Nearly a year on from the launch of the U.S. Soccer Podcasts, Charlie Davies and Jordan Angeli have found it telling how often former U.S. Men’s National Team alumni would tell them the best they ever played with was John O’Brien.
So, we brought him on the podcast!
A talented young U.S. player in a time before an academy setup existed here, O’Brien explained his decision to venture to the Netherlands to sign with famed Dutch side Ajax at age 17. Once there he rose through the ranks of the youth teams to become a starter in the UEFA Champions League, win two Eredivisie titles and a Dutch Cup.
He also reflected on his eight years representing the USMNT, including his integral role in the team’s run to the quarterfinals at the 2002 FIFA World Cup as well as the U-23’s fourth place finish at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Reflecting back on his international career, the talented midfielder discussed his favorite memory – a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica on Oct. 7, 2001 in Foxborough. He vividly remembered the USMNT being the first National Team in any sport to represent the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, and recalled how the team learned of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan just hours before kickoff of the match that would see the team qualify for the 2002 World Cup.
Despite his many accomplishments, O’Brien’s career was riddled by injuries and he retired following the 2006 FIFA World Cup. After leaving the game he went to school and recently earned his doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology.