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 @.
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.