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w/U.S. MNT Defender Jimmy Conrad


Starting in late March, Center Circle e-magazine will transform from the once-a-month newsletter on ussoccer.com, becoming an interactive page that will be updated on a regular basis with new features on all the U.S. National Teams. All your favorite CC sections will still be available, such as Armchair Midfielder, In 3s and You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall) trivia, mixed in with more podcast interviews, new video segments, a chance for you to rant opinions and ask questions, and much, much more.

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What’s it going to be? Door number one, door number two, or door number THREE?!? Okay, so this section has less to do with “Let’s Make A Deal” and more to do with the Multiple Choice section of an SAT test. “In 3’s” peeks inside the head of a select National Team player as they pick one of three choices for 25 questions about personal tastes and pop culture.

Jimmy Conrad is funny. Not like he’s a clown or anything, he’s just a humorous, witty fella. He’s like that guy in your group of buddies you can always count on for a good laugh. But, in Jimmy’s case, he just also happens to be really good at soccer.

That humor probably came in handy during his soccer career as the relentless defender has had quite a bumpy ride on his way to the Men’s National Team, overcoming setbacks at the college and professional level before earning the respect of his peers. Finally, in 2004, after impressing Bruce Arena in MLS, Jimmy was invited into a MNT camp and he hasn’t looked back.

With 12 caps already under his belt, Conrad has done well enough to force Bruce to consider bringing him to Germany. What gets him the final nod? Well, in the past, Bruce has commented that in building good team chemistry it’s not just the attributes a player brings to the pitch, but also off the field, as well. So, to help you out Bruce (and we know you’re reading), continue on to find out a little bit more about one of your central defenders.

Oh, and Jimmy, if this doesn’t work, you better work on your delivery.

Livin’:
Favorite city you’ve lived: San Diego, Los Angeles or Kansas City? 
Jimmy Conrad: I would have to say that Los Angeles is my favorite city.  I was born there, all of my friends and family are still there, and I had the good fortune to meet my wife there.  Of course, we could argue about whether that’s “good” fortune for her or not.

Thing you miss most about living in Cali': The warm weather, hitting the beach or good Mexican food?
JC:  I’m leaning towards the Mexican food but there is something to be said for the sweet feeling that used to fill my lungs during a first-stage smog alert.
 
Best pre-game ritual: sleeping, listening to music or just relaxing?
JC:  Sorting out who needs tickets for the game.

Since you were a math major in college, what’s your minutes per game average in MLS if you’ve played 168 games and recorded 14,344 minutes: 83, 85 or 87?
JC:  83.  And I didn’t cheat. (Editor’s note: The correct answer is 85. Jimmy, you should have cheated.)

Favorite thing to do on the road: play cards, play video games or read a book?
JC:  I like to do all three but if I have to choose…well, I’d say any activity that involves Taylor Twellman losing money.

More nerve-racking of a day for you: First game in MLS, wedding day or first game with the MNT?
JC:  My wedding day.  But then I saw her come down the aisle and I wasn’t nervous anymore because I knew that asking her to be my wife was the best decision I ever made.

Best thing about your 1961 Ford Falcon: The handling, the performance or the look?
JC:  It’s definitely the look, or shall I say, how good I look in my 1961 Ford Falcon.

Soccer:
Toughest U.S. World Cup opponent: Czech Republic, Italy or Ghana?
JC:  I’d like to think we’re going to take it one game at a time. Since the Czech Republic is up first then at the moment they will be the toughest World Cup opponent…until we play Italy.

Best forward you’ve gone up against in the MLS? Landon Donovan, Jaime Moreno or Taylor Twellman?
JC:  I’ve learned a lot from all three.  With Landon I have to think three plays ahead, with Jaime my 1 v 1 defending needs to be good, and with Taylor I’ve learned that I need to communicate with my outside backs to make sure no crosses come in because it’s hard to win headers when the other guy has such an unfair advantage.  The guy has an enormous melon.

Favorite player growing up: Marcelo Balboa, Eric Wynalda or Cobi Jones?
JC:  When I was a youth player, my team made it to the national championships.  And before the games started on the weekend all the teams were invited to a banquet with certain luminaries talking about the future of soccer in the United States and special guest Eric Wynalda enlightening the youngsters about “how you too can be just as good as me, if you practice hard, and…” then he bit his lip.  Literally.  And it wouldn’t stop bleeding.  So he had to hold up a big wad of tissues to his mouth while he finished his speech.  Classic. 

So to answer your question without the story, my favorite player growing up was Eric Wynalda.

Best soccer championship you’ve won: NCAA with UCLA, A-League with San Diego Flash or Under-20 Club with San Dieguito Surf?
JC:  They all share a special place in my heart, but winning the NCAA with UCLA was the most rewarding.

Best goal you scored in your college career: The first, second or third? (Editor’s note: Jimmy only scored three goals while with San Diego State and UCLA)
JC:  The second one.  It was my freshman year at State and I scored the winner in overtime against Cal.  But it was more memorable because this girl who never gave me the time of day came to the game and clearly after seeing what a stud I was, wanted to hang out. 

Superstitions on day of game: Have one, have more than one or don’t have any?
JC:  I like to think I have more of a routine that I like to follow.  Nothing crazy, just eating at a certain time, turning off the cell phone at a certain time, little stuff like that. 

Other Sports:
Best Cali’ NBA team: Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers or Sacramento Kings?
JC:  I grew up in LA in the ‘80s.  I bleed purple and gold.  Magic, Kareem, Big Game James, AC Green, Michael Coop-a-loop Cooper, Rambis, etc.  I love those guys.

What did you think when you heard Kobe Bryant dropped in 81 against the Raptors: Ball hog, greatest performance of all-time or how many points?
JC:  I thought, ‘I miss Magic and the Lakers of old.’   

Winter Olympic event you wanted to see the most: Downhill skiing, ice hockey or snowboarding half-pipe?
JC:  Ski jumping and I can’t really explain why.

Best overall player in the 2006 NFL Draft: Reggie Bush, Vince Young or Matt Leinert?
JC:  Reggie Bush.

Eats:
You’re in charge of providing dinner: Making a meal, hitting the frozen pizza or going out?
JC:  I like to go big and make a meal (appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert) about once a year, otherwise, we’re going out.

Best K.C. BBQ: Arthur Bryant’s, Gates or Smokestack?
JC:  Oklahoma Joe’s is the best.  There are two of them but the original is the best.  It’s attached to a gas station which for whatever reason adds to its charm.

Best type of restaurant to take a girl on a date: Asian, Italian or Mexican?
JC:  First date: Italian.  If you’ve known her for a while:  Asian.  If she understands the effect of beans on the male stomach:  Mexican.

Entertainment
Reality show you’d like most to be on: “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race” or “American Idol”?
JC:  The only show I’ve never seen is “The Amazing Race” and I’m definitely not cut out for the other two, so by default I’ll go with “The Amazing Race.”

Since we know you look like Brad Pitt, what do you think of him dumping Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie: A good step up, he’s an insensitive jerk or why’s this guy getting married anyway?
JC:  I agree with you on the resemblance but after reading and re-reading the tabloids, it’s hard to make out what the true story really was.  Though it seems he went from one extreme (conservative girl) to another (very outspoken and adventurous girl).  Mid-life crisis.  Does that work?

Best classic Nintendo game you played as a kid: Contra, The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros.?
JC:  Super Mario Bros.  It’s a classic for a number of reasons but the best one is if you had a two-player game going, it might take over an hour for player two to finally get a turn.  At which point they had already left because it was taking too long and ultimately that led to more video game time for me.  What a shame.

You become blessed with an amazing musical voice. What singing career are you pursuing: member of a boy band, solo artist or lead vocal in a band?
JC:  Hmm.  Probably the lead vocal in a band so I could talk about whatever was on my mind between songs at a show.

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