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Get to Know Marlon Duran

At 5 feet 4 inches tall, Marlon Duran isn’t necessarily built like the typical defensive midfielder, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t play like one. Nicknamed “Midget” by his teammates on the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, the Duncanville, Texas native hasn’t let his short stature keep him back from accomplishing lofty goals. With his next aspiration to qualify for the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Duran sat down with to answer 11 questions about everything from his nickname, to his role on the team, to what it’s been like growing up alongside his teammates.

First things about the nickname.
“Everyone at Residency now calls me Midget. It doesn’t bother me. I have gotten used to it and what else can I do but just laugh about it?”

That said, despite your height, you’re known for your ability in the air, right?
“I have always been the smallest kid on the team. I used to work back at home with my club coach a lot on my jumping ability and just having good timing.”

What is your role on the team?
“My role is mostly to break things up in the midfield and keep things under control. I try to make the defenders job easier. Offensively, I just try to make plays in the middle of the field and switch the ball to jump start the attack as much as I can.”

What do you think is the biggest strength of this team?
“We actually all just work together really well and help each other out. We work as one, and that’s probably our biggest strength. I think that has to do with being together every day, but really it started when most of us were together with the U-15s. Perry (Kitchen), Jared (Watts) was there, Andy Craven, Jack (McInerney), Stefan (Jerome), Zach (Herold)… a majority of us really met there. We’ve had a lot of bonding since then and of course being together every day helps us too.”

What’s it been like to kind of grow up together?
“It’s pretty cool. These are guys I’ve known for three years now, especially Stefan and Jack who I knew when we were on a regional team together. It’s pretty cool being able to grow up with them soccer-wise. We’re pretty tight off the field, too.”

How long have you been playing soccer?
“I’ve been playing since I was four years old in Irving, Texas. When I was five, I scored my first goal – a PK. (Ed. note: Marlon can’t remember what justified a penalty kick call against a five year old) I remember celebrating with my Dad. I just jumped on him and we went crazy.”

Have you always lived in Duncanville, Texas?
“I used to live in Irving, Texas which is about a half hour away but we moved to Duncanville because it was closer to where I played. I’ve played with Latino Americana for my whole life, with the same coach and same teammates. It’s been great.”

What else do you do in Texas when you get to go home?
“Just spend time with my family mostly and my friends. With my family, we just all get together in one place, either my house or my cousin’s house. When I’m with my friends we just go out and have fun – go to the movies and do normal teenager stuff.”

How about in Residency? What do you guys do with your rare down time?
“We have a lot of fun and we have to make our own fun. We have water balloon fights and we actually play tennis a lot. I’m not very good at tennis actually. I mean, I’m alright, but not that good!”

What’s the biggest game you’ve played in before this tournament?
“I’d have to say it was the Nike Friendlies in ’07. It was pretty fun beating Brazil. Not only was Fox Soccer Channel there, but beating Brazil just gave us motivation and helped us to believe that we were on the right path. It was fun. The competition was great and it showed us that we can keep up with the biggest teams out there, and it was only our second game with the U-17s.”

On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you for this tournament to kick off?
“Ten. I wake up every morning just thinking about it and waiting for game day. I try not to be overly excited because I don’t want to make myself nervous, but being excited helps me because I just know how much I want to play in a game that matters.”