Interview

Home of Caribbean Football’s Nathan Carr on Brian Brown

Photo: Courtesy of Jamaica Gleaner

We talk to Nathan Carr, who runs the website The Home of Caribbean Football, about Brian Brown, the Harbour View FC striker who Philadelphia Union interim head coach Jim Curtin confirmed is about to join the club. You can follow The Home of Caribbean Football on Twitter at @caribbeanftbl.

Philly Soccer Page: From press reports, it looks like Brown was a scoring phenom in his high school days. What can you share about his background?

Nathan Carr: Called Brian ‘Rambo’ Brown Jr. as his father — a former Seba United player — shares the same name, Brown was born into a football-orientated family. Indeed, Brown was a very prolific striker for Rusea’s High at high school level and to try and illustrate his effectiveness in front of goal, perhaps the use of statistics will help: as of 2012 he was schoolboy football’s top scorer over the past couple of seasons plus the leading all-time goal-getter for Rusea’s High. He notched 38 goals in 2012 which accumulated to over 60 in the past two campaigns previous to that. Quite simply, Brown ran riot at this level and showed all the necessary attributes to go on and make the step up to a higher standard.

PSP: After scoring three goals in 17 appearances with Montego Bay in 2012-13, Brown had a little bit of a dry spell following his move to Harbour View for the rest of the 2012-13 season (0 goals in 10 appearances). Was that simply an adjustment period with him getting limited minutes as he adjusted to his new team, or were there injury issues?

NC: It is fair to say Brown found the transition phase between switching from Montego Bay to Harbour View difficult. At Montego Bay he was marginalized and predominantly used off the bench, last year admitting on the Jamaican football TV program, Football GPS, that he didn’t feel he was handed adequate game time in order to make the desired impact. His first few months in a Harbour View shirt were probably not as smooth nor seamless as Brown would have liked, but in fairness to him, he did eventually make the adjustment and last season was a revelation in the Jamaican Premier League.

PSP: Brown describes his chief strengths as being “my speed, my first touch, shots on goal,” and his weakness as heading the ball. What can you share about his strengths and weaknesses?

NC: First and foremost, Brown’s key strength is his shooting prowess. Last season his goals were a mixture of long-range shots, close-range tap ins and one spectacular bicycle kick against Arnett Gardens in January. Added to his accurate finishing ability, Brown is right to claim his speed as a main attribute for he can leave defenders for dead. He has the back-to-goal technique in his locker but crucially Brown can spin away from defenders and make darting runs in behind, like he did so frequently in 2013-14.

I’m a little surprised he calls his heading a weakness as the forward actually scored several goals via his head, most notably versus Cavalier, a game in which he completed a treble. He’s relatively tall and has an impressive leap so heading isn’t that much of an issue — perhaps this is attributed more to the opposition defenders’ lack of positional sense — but a weakness may be his right foot. The left peg is no trouble at all — in fact he is deadly inside the box — but this is facet to his game which even he will admit that he could enhance. To round off, Brown is a bustling, powerful, quick striker with a lethal left foot and knack of being in the right place at the right time.

PSP: I’ve found info on him having one national team appearance back on November 16, 2013 in a loss to T&T (an article on the CONCACAF site from February says he has two national team appearances but I haven’t been able to identify the second appearance). What can you share about his national team prospects?

NC: As far as I’m aware, he only has the one international cap for Jamaica and as you say that came last November. He was included in the national squad for a friendly series between the two countries — they faced each other twice in the space of a week – and Jamaica succumbed to defeat on both occasions. He was substituted on late in the second half in place of fellow forward and namesake, Deshorn Brown, but had minimal time to cause a problem for the Trinidadian defenders.

Interestingly, Jamaica has been struggling for goals of late — the team were woefully inconsistent in front of goal in 2014 World Cup qualifying  and far too many strikers have been experimented with. In recent summer friendlies coach Winfried Schafer has selected teenager Michael Seaton to lead the line but Brown still has a reasonable chance of featuring for them in the future. After all, he’s only 21 and Schafer has been keen to usher in more of the domestic-based contingent since his arrival a few years ago.

Brown said in February earlier this year, “I intend to give 100 percent for my club and to prove that local players can be as good as those overseas.” The national side are playing lots of matches in the coming year — Caribbean Cup, Copa America, possibly Gold Cup — so if Brown does well at Philadelphia Union and continues to hit the back of the net, then Jamaica will have to sit up and take notice.

PSP: What can you tell us about three-week trial with Aston Villa in 2012?

Brown was only 19 years old when he went on the Aston Villa trial, and still based at Rusea’s High. Brown’s compatriot, Omar Cummings, also had a trial at Villa the season before and shone but he didn’t make the move as he couldn’t get hold of a work permit. It is understood that this wasn’t the case regarding Brown as he participated in the week’s trial but wasn’t deemed good enough to be signed permanently. Still, this was an excellent experience for him to take and shortly after his return to the island he signed for Montego Bay. The level of coaching and organizational setup would have been very high indeed at Villa, different to what Brown is accustomed to in Jamaica, but the very fact that the Premier League club even registered interest speaks volumes about his performances at high school (with reference to his solo efforts in the 2011 Dacosta Cup, a youth-orientated competition held in Jamaica). Maybe the MLS is the most sensible next step for Brown in his career at this particular stage.

PSP: Anything else Union fans should know about Brown?

NC: Most has been covered but one thing which is really obvious when you hear Brown speak is that he has this incredible desire to fulfill his duty as a striker. Speaking to the local media after his bicycle kick in the Jamaican Premier League, he said: “I won’t stop scoring. I will go out there, do my part and score goals. That is my part.” He speaks with such conviction and passion, emphasizing the belief that he thinks he will score whenever he goes through on goal. And most of the time he does, always picking the right spot and hitting the target.

In essence, Brown is a goal machine. Scoring 18 goals to become the top scorer in last season’s Jamaican Premier League is no accident. The million dollar question is whether he’ll be able to transfer his form in Jamaica to something successful in the United States — I for one have every bit of faith in him. He’s a shy, reserved guy but when he’s on the pitch, he comes alive.

Philadelphia fans should be excited and looking forward to seeing their new man in action soon.

23 Comments

  1. Great interview Ed- and thanks to Nathan for the detailed analysis. His commentary has me excited to see him, let’s hope Brown’s actual play lives up to the plaudits.

  2. I know Carr is biased, but if Brown is half as good as he has described, we may not see Wenger for a long time.

    • Misguided Wheeler experiment aside, Wenger is a good candidate for a position switch. Not sure what made Montreal declare him a striker immediately, but it hasn’t happened and he showed pretty good versatility at Duke. On the pessimist side, he could just be a guy without a position. Too much talent to give up on yet though.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Based on his ball skills, he seems only fit as a forward or a back. I think that he may have potential in a 4-3-3, playing out wide and cutting in towards middle. He AND Casey may be able to work some strong overlapping play, with LeToux running off both of them. This would rely on Noguiera and Maidana finding a way to operate cohesively in the advanced midfield. Okugo is capable of holding down the CDM, with Edu at his back…I think, anyway.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Wenger is not a bad footballer. His finishing instinct needs some help, but he is a talented player that should be on the pitch.
      .
      Wenger was put on the cross quickly, due to the fact that Jack Mac was sent out to get him. Jack is talented and on a tear, but he really did have some very, very cold streaks with the Union and people seem to forget that a bit.

      • Dan C (formerly of 103) says:

        From a goal scoring standpoint, Wenger’s entire career has been a cold streak.

      • No one in Union management was prepared to handle a diva striker which Jack is and that’s only faulted the fans.

        He’s 21 years old with 31 MLS goals already. Strikers go through ups and downs but trading him was stupid, plain and simple.

  3. I hope this one works out. Sounds great by this guys standards. Of course, he’ll probably be loaned to Harrisburg and well never see him again. Union have trained me to be a pessimist.

  4. Two bold predictions (feel free to laugh): Both Rambo and Ribeiro come off the bench vs. Colorado. In all seriousness, however, I would love to see Rambo knock off Wenger in the depth chart. Hack and now Curtin are always talking about competition, hopefully it does our forwards some good.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Be more inclined to think Hoppenot is threatened rather than Wenger, should Brown prove to be ready for first team minutes. Hoppenot’s major attribute is pace, if Brown is as pacey, … .

      Wenger is worth trying at flank middie and flank back.

  5. Kaka, Villa, Lampard,….and the Union sign Brown barely out of high school. He’ll need a season to adjust to the MLS (which is fair). However the Union don’t have the time or the patience for this project. I’d like to see Pfeffer, Mcluaghlin, and Hernandez get MLS minutes.

    • I would like them to go all in with their kids. Unload who you can this window to get allocation money or young players. Play em all see where you are at and build your team accordingly. Because right now I see our current roster situation as being as bad or even worse in some areas as the Nowak years.
      Play the kids and give the new coach as much raw material to work with as possible.
      Never gonna happen with the playoffs still attainable though.

  6. Southside Johnny says:

    Even Tim Howard couldn’t save the McInernery-Wenger deal from being the worst trade ever.

  7. Until we hire a permanent manager, our moves must be limited. This looks like a good one. The risks of jettisoning the season just to play the kids are too numerous. But Curtin should bring up selectively & sub. We don’t need to see Fred, Hoppenot or Bone again. Please trade Carroll; he has value, but not here now. Play White & Berry enough to find out what they’re worth. Keep trying to win. Because well, winning.

  8. Brian Brown should be at least as good as deshorn brown

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