Jonathan Spector is only 25 but he’s already one of the most experienced U.S. Men’s National Team players in Europe. Since moving abroad in 2003, Spector has been playing in England and this summer he took a new step in his club career. After five years at West Ham Spector made the move to Birmingham City and a team hungry for promotion back to the Premier League. ussoccer.com asked the versatile defender/midfielder about his recent move.
How did the move to Birmingham City come about?
Jonathan Spector: “There was interest from a few different clubs over the summer and for me Birmingham was a pretty easy choice. It's a big club with a great fan base. That was evident in our last home game: It was sold out for a Europa League qualifier, which was pretty exciting. The fans were fantastic and it was good to advance in that competition.”
Birmingham plays in the English Football League Championship so the logical goal is to make the jump back up to the Premier League?
JS: “It is a club that has ambition to get promoted. They have the wherewithal and there are some talented players in the squad. The manager, Chris Hughton, has the experience of getting Newcastle promoted.”
After the Gold Cup you were out of contract. When you joined Birmingham the season was on the verge of beginning, so you had no preseason. Clearly you had to hit the ground running?
JS: “The first game was a couple days after I arrived and I hadn't gone through a preseason with a team. I was doing some training on my own and with a former teammate of mine who was also out of contract, so I was in relatively good shape but certainly not where I wanted to be going into the beginning of the season. I traveled for the first away game and I knew I wasn't going to play, but the manager wanted me involved and to be with the team. Two games later I was thrown right in and then we had four games in two weeks, with a trip to Portugal for the Europa League. My debut for Birmingham was in Madeira, Portugal against Nacional in the Europa League.”
What was it like moving to a new club and having to get acclimated so quickly?
JS: “It was a strange experience for me. I spent five years at West Ham which in soccer terms is a really long time. Making that move was different and not going through preseason meant there was a little bit of a learning curve and some catching up to do. I felt really welcome at the club and in the end it was easy to settle in.”
What's the dynamic like in the locker room?
JS: “It's a positive locker room and it's a younger team. We have a few older, more experienced players but there's also some youth mixed in, which is good. That'll be important for us in our bid for promotion. It's a good group of players.”
You moved from London to Birmingham, what have you seen of the city so far?
JS: “I haven't seen a great deal of the city as of yet. I've been so busy, with games and training and it's also been nonstop traveling. It seems like a nice city and obviously Brad Guzan and Eric Lichaj are there with Aston Villa. I'm sure I'll see a bit of them.”
You and the rest of the players are putting your club careers in the background for a little while during this international break. What are you expecting from the game against Costa Rica tomorrow?
JS: “Whenever we play Costa Rica on home soil we know they’re going to be defensive. We’ll probably have a tough game on our hands trying to break them down. Hopefully we’ll put on a good show and a good performance. Getting good results is important for us heading into World Cup qualifying next year.”