Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from U.S. Under-20 and full Men’s National Team midfielder Bobby Convey.
Still just a kid (although he’ll turn 20 in two months), Convey already has three MLS seasons under his belt and is expected to be a major part of a D.C. United team that will feature a pair of thirtysomethings in Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov and longtime U.S. hero Earnie Stewart. As with most of his career, he’s currently pulling more than triple duty with club and country, as he’s a leader on the U.S. Under-20 and Under-23 Men’s National Teams and a promising young player on the full U.S. Men’s National Team. But no matter what the team, the Philadelphia, Pa., native and owner of a home in the Virginia suburbs, seems to find a way to succeed. In January, he became the last of the trio of U-17 MNT Class of 1999 standouts to win the Chevy Young Male Athlete of the Year award, having helped the U-20s punch a ticket for UAE 2003 by providing two big assists in the qualifying tournament and also emerging as a leader for D.C. in the pro ranks. Having watched Landon and Beaz arrive on the world stage at 2002 Korea/Japan, his eyes are wide with excitement about following in their footsteps at both the 2004 Olympics and the 2006 World Cup.
Center Circle: After finishing fourth at the U-17 level at New Zealand '99, the same group of players went on to make up the U-20 team, but only finished 13th of 16 teams at Argentina '01. What do you think was the difference in the team's lackluster performance at the U-20 event and how much of it had to do with having been in full-time residency for the '99 tourney?
BC: “Full-time residency was a great success for us going into the Under-17 World Championship. It gave us an opportunity to play together and to be the best we could be as a team and as individual players. I think what happened at the Under-20 world championship was that there were players who weren’t focused on playing; they were focused on getting European contracts. They were not staying focused on the team, and they didn’t think that playing well as a team and advancing in the tournament would help their careers. They cared more about themselves and their contracts.”
CC: Would it be safe to say that the group over-achieved in '99, only to underachieve in 2001, or was it just the luck of the draw?
BC: “At the Under-17 level we played well and had a lot of good players on the team. We did less than we thought we could do, though. We thought we had a chance to win, and then we lost in the semis on penalty kicks. We did better than people expected, but not better than we expected. At the Under-20 level, yes, we underachieved.”
CC: How realistic do you think it is for you to make the 2004 Olympic team and the 2006 World Cup team? Are those in your sights as mid-range goals in your young career?
BC: “Yes, those are my goals right now, and I think they’re very realistic.”
CC: How inspiring has it been watching your ex-U-17 teammates Landon and DaMarcus go on to such success on the full Men's National Team level, especially at last summer's World Cup?
BC: “It was definitely exciting to watch them play in the World Cup and do well. I’ve played with them before and with the Men’s National Team, and now I know that if I work hard and play well I can make the team and play with my old teammates again.”
CC: What do you think of the skill level of the group that has assembled for the first three U.S. MNT friendlies of 2003, compared to the 2002 World Cup team?
BC: “Right now with the full MNT we brought in a lot of younger guys, and Bruce is trying to get in as many guys as he can and then get a core of players and give them experience, so that when it comes time to qualify everyone will have some experience at this level.”
CC: You're entering your fourth year at D.C. United. What have been the best and worst parts of your professional experience?
BC: “The best part was the last 7-8 games of last season. I got put in the middle of the field and was able to run the team. I got some goals and we did well and I gained the respect of my teammates. They had the confidence to play with me and that I was able to help the team do well. The worst part was having a team good enough to do well in my first year – we were good enough to make the playoffs and make a run at the Cup - and we didn’t even make the playoffs.”
CC: Do you have any regrets about missing out on the high school or college experience that someone your age might normally be enjoying?
BC: “No. I have no regrets on missing out on anything in high school, because I basically get to do anything they get to do, but I don’t have to go to class. I have to go to my job – training – but I still get to hang out with kids my age. I’ve got a great job right now, and I have no regrets at all.”
CC: Where do you think you'll fit in on the field with all of these talented players and off the field with all of these dynamic personalities?
BC: “So far all the new guys have been great. We’ve all been hanging out together, going to dinner and everyone has the same goal on the field, and when you share the same goal you can gel with people. I’ll probably end up playing left midfielder, but I like playing in middle. When we put out all the new players we have, I’ll probably have to play out wide.”
CC: Do you ever sit there listening to Ray Hudson in his pre- or post-game speeches and think to yourself "I have no idea what he's talking about" or do you just laugh at all of his unusual analogies and similes?
BC: “I just laugh at him all the time, because he is hilarious. He’s a good motivator with everyone, and he knows how to rile the guys up and get everyone ready for the games. He has been pretty good so far this year being serious, but he is a colorful guy. Hopefully we’ll see this year if any of the new guys buy into it.”
CC: What's it like to be a home-owner as a teenager?
BC: “It’s definitely great to be able to go back to D.C. and have my own house to go home to. To know that I was able to build it at a young age is great. It is also great to be able to have my family stay with me when they come down. It’s an awesome opportunity to know I had the chance to do that at a young age.”
CC: What's your favorite thing about Washington, D.C., the city?
BC: “It’s pretty cool driving to practice every day and driving by the monuments, Arlington cemetery, the White House and our government. You don’t think it’s a big deal, but when other people come to visit they’re amazed by it and you start thinking about how great it really is. Not a lot of people get to drive by such historic things every day.”
CC: We talked to Ben Olsen about his budding art career. Have you seen any of his paintings? If so, give us an honest evaluation?
BC: “Yes, and I asked him to paint one for my house, but he won’t do it because he thinks I’m joking. Ben’s very artsy and is constantly inviting me to go to art shows with him.”
CC: What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done, aside from forgetting your passport at the CONCACAF Under-20 qualifying tournament?
BC: “I try not to embarrass myself.”
Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Off-season WUSA Pick-ups)
2) In Threes (w/ U-20 MNT forward Knox Cameron)
3) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ MNT, U-23, U-20 MNT midfielder Bobby Convey)
4) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. Venezuela – March 29)
5) The Wife of Brian (w/ Dina McBride)
6) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win 2003 MLS MVP?)
7) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (MISL Trivia)
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BC: “This year so far we have a lot of good players on the team, and everyone is focused on winning this season. We have guys that have played in World Cup and guys that have played in MLS Cup. We are more focused, and we know that we have a team good enough to win games and make the playoffs, and that is what we want to do.”