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w/ MNT midfielder Chris Armas


Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from Chicago Fire and U.S. MNT midfielder Chris Armas:

Center Circle: It has come to our attention that you always make sure that when you're playing for the U.S. MNT, your locker is side by side with that of Cobi Jones (Jones wears #13, Armas wears #14). Does this mean that you're superstitious?
Chris Armas: "Yeah, it's just since we go back to being teammates at the (L.A.) Galaxy, we have a friendship that way. It just started when I came to the National Team. I guess in L.A., we were always together. With the national team, we'd come in (to the locker room) sometimes and we're like ‘Aaron (Barrett, the MNT Equipment Manager), what's going on here?' Because he's 13 and I'm 14, sometimes he leaves a space in between, so we're like ‘Aaron, come on. Let's get ‘em together.' We always say that it's brought us good luck, so we try to keep that going and so Aaron knows the deal."

CC: You got engaged after the last home game of the Fire's first season in 1998. What was more nerve- wracking, pulling off the proposal at Soldier Field or making your debut for the U.S. Men's National Team about a month later (Nov. 6, to be exact)?
CA: "I was more nervous with the engagement. It was at the end of the game and there were so many little things that needed to happen. The trainer had the ring and I had to get it and have it in my jacket pocket. I asked her if she wanted to go up to the press box to watch the laser show and was hoping she'd say ‘yes'. We had to get up there in a hurry, because I didn't know at what point in the laser show that (the proposal, written with lasers) would happen. When we got up there, I'm in the elevator and I'm a nervous wreck because I still have to get on my knee and ask her, and I didn't know how I was going to do it. There were a lot of things that went into that. Soccer is soccer. I was just more excited than nervous with the debut. I came in in the second half of that game against Australia, and that was it."

CC: So you and your wife had a son a couple months ago. What's it like being a dad?
CA: "October 28. A baby boy. Christopher Michael (Armas), Jr. Well, it's the biggest change in my life and my wife's life. Everyone thinks that things change when you get married, but we didn't really see it like that. It was just a formality, really. The kid was the biggest change for us. It's like ‘Wow. This is a big responsibility.' You find that you're parents and that you have this child that is totally dependent on you. So we've done alright. We're learning how to change diapers. When it was normally tough to leave home and leave my wife for games, now it's even tougher leaving the wife and the baby."

CC: You've lived in both New York, growing up in the Bronx, and now in downtown Chicago. With winter upon us, weather persons of America want to know which city has colder winters?
CA: "I would say Chicago. Chicago, it just seems a little bit colder, a little bit windier. And the weather in Chicago just seems to come out of nowhere sometimes with rain and snow. Typically, New York City gets the weather Chicago gets a day later, but it always seem a little worse in Chicago. And even if it's colder in New York, Christmas there is hard to beat."

CC: What is your favorite thing about "the Second City"?
CA: "I love the team. I love the Chicago Fire, the organization and the players and the friends that I've made over there. And the city is a great small version of New York."

CC: Assuming you stay up for late night talk shows, Letterman or LenoConan or Kilborn?
CA: "I'm a Letterman guy and ... Conan, definitely Conan. He's funny, I like him."

CC: What was the last concert you went to?
CA: "You know, I don't even think I've ever been to a concert. (Then after some prodding) In Chicago at the House of Blues, I did see LL Cool J. He's representin' Queens, ya know?"

CC: Gwyneth Paltrow or Julia Roberts?
CA: "Julia Roberts, all the way."

CC: You won the U.S. Soccer / Chevrolet Male Athlete of the Year award for 2000. How's the Chevy?
CA: "Yeah, I just got it. I upgraded from the Cavalier to the Blazer. It's beautiful. We just got it two weeks ago. It's in New York, because I actually spend most of the off-season in New York in Queens and Long Island near me and my wife's families. That truck will definitely come in handy with the winters in New York."

CC: What's your favorite sport besides soccer and who's your favorite team?
CA: "Basketball. Got to be the Knicks."

CC: Obviously, being from the Bronx, you have to be a Yankees fan?
CA: "All the way."
CC: How many games have you been to in your lifetime? 10? 100?
CA: "In my life, I would say 40. I'm always at home watching them."

CC: At 5'7", you don't tower over many soccer players. Did you ever think your height -- or lack thereof -- would impede your soccer career?
CA: "No, I never thought it would. It never was an issue with me. Being shorter than other players never seemed to be an issue at all. I've always seemed to be quick and I make up for it in other ways. I've never been left off a team because of my height, so it's never been a problem. But I'm taller than Cobi. Cobi's like 5'6". I'm taller than (U.S. MNT midfielder) Richie Williams. I tower over Richie."

CC: You've had quite a journey advancing from a small college to Major League Soccer to the U.S. national team and now to a chance at playing in the 2002 World Cup. Did you ever think it would all happen like this?
CA: "I saw (former MNT midfielder and 1990 World Cup captain Mike) Windischmann do it from Adelphi, the same college as me. I looked up to him and always tried to emulate what he did. I knew it was a possibility. I knew it wasn't going to be just dependent on what college I went to. I knew if I continued playing well, things would happen. After college, the only thing around was the USISL (developmental soccer system) and so I played with the (Division II A-League team Long Island) Rough Riders. You never really think it's going to happen. It's the kind of thing that always seems far away. I'm surprised that it's gone this far and it's all become a reality and the World Cup is right around the corner."

Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Dissecting the 2002 World Cup Final Draw)
2) All I Want for Christmas... (w/ U.S. National Teams staff and players)
3) At the Movies (w/ U-21 WNT midfielder Aly Wagner)
4) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ MNT midfielder Chris Armas)
5) Making it to the Show (w/ U-17 MNT forward Ed Johnson)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT forward Cindy Parlow)
7) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. South Korea -- Dec. 9)
8) Point-Counterpoint (w/ coaches Bruce Arena and Bob Gansler)
9) From the Bleachers (w/ U.S. Soccer fan Dave Brett Wasser)
10) "You Don't Know Jack (Marshall)" (College Soccer Trivia)

Download or print this entire issue of Center Circle (.pdf)

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