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11 Questions with Jared Jeffrey

After wearing the captain’s armband for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Jared Jeffrey made the move overseas, signing with Club Brugge in Belgium. Now, as one of only three European-based players on the U.S. U-20 MNT that just qualified for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Jeffrey is also one of the youngest. He spoke with about his role as one of the younger guys, life in Belgium and breaking away from supersititions.

First things first, how does it feel to have qualified for Egypt?
“It feels really good. I think everyone is really excited about it. It’s what we came here to do, and it’s a pretty big step for us.”

How do you relate this experience with your last qualifying experience, with the U-17s in 2007?
“I think it’s pretty similar. It’s just as good of a feeling to qualify. The level is obviously a little higher with the U-20s. Now we have the chance to play for a CONCACAF Championship, which I think is something really special, and we’re really looking forward to that.”

Do you think you’re a different player now than you were then?
“I think I’m more mature just as a person, I’ve grown up a lot in the past couple of years, living abroad and everything. Yeah, I’d say I’m more developed now than I was then.”

As a captain on the U-17s, how has your role changed now at the next step up?
“It’s definitely different. With the U-17s we had a core group of guys who were together for a long time and here, everyone knows each other but I’m definitely one of the younger guys. We all get along really well, though. It’s really a good group of guys. We’re really united, and it’s a fun team to be a part of.”

We’ve been hearing that from a lot of players, but how does that translate onto the field?
“It definitely helps. Coming into this cycle a lot of us knew each other but in our last camp in Bradenton we really came together. We did some team bonding stuff, and you can definitely feel it when we’re all on the field.”

Changing subjects a bit, how is life in Belgium?
“Belgium is good. It’s really cold there right now though. It’s pretty different from what I was used to in the U.S., but the people are really nice there and everyone speaks English, which really helps a lot. The guys on the team are pretty cool, too, so that’s great.”

You moved over to Europe at a pretty young age. What was your adjustment period there like?
“It wasn’t that bad actually. I had been on my own in Residency, so as far as being away from my family and stuff it wasn’t that much different. Living alone and cooking my own food, stuff like that was an adjustment but fortunately my mom came over with me and went back and forth for about two months to help me get settled. It took a while to kind of get used to everything, but now I feel like I’m pretty well acquainted over there.”

What do you miss most about life in the U.S.?
“I miss a lot actually. I’m a pretty big fan of our country! I miss the convenience of life here, stores being open all the time and things like that. Everything is just more convenient in the States. On Sundays, there are only a couple of little convenience stores that might be open, but there’s nothing really open. You have to plan your whole week out! I’ve been stuck on Sundays without anything to eat in the house and then I’m stuck having to go out to a restaurant. I’m trying to get used to it. Also, in Belgium when you order food someplace, it comes out really small. There aren’t any buffets or anything. Everything is just bigger and more convenient in the U.S.!”

Do you think that the Belgian league suits your style?
“The Belgian league is unique in that it’s pretty top heavy. There are a handful of teams that usually fight for the title every year so I’m pretty glad that I can be a part of one of those teams. The guys at training every day make me better. They know how to play and yeah, I’d say it suits my style as a player.”

What do you do there when you’re not training or playing?
“Well, I’ve gotten pretty good at Xbox now, I’ve really stepped up my game. I play Halo, FIFA and Madden mostly. I think I’m up there in the FIFA rankings on this team. I watch a lot of movies and hang out with the guys mostly.”

What are your pre-game rituals these days?
“I actually used to be pretty superstitious, but I’m really not anymore. I just grew out of it I guess. It was too much! I used to listen to the same songs and watch some movie clips, but it was getting ridiculous. I’m going to play bad because I couldn’t watch a couple of extra movie clips? That’s ridiculous. I don’t even listen to music before games anymore.”