Go to Jimmy Conrad’s personal home page and it makes a bold proclamation…
Welcome to JimmyConrad.com: Your whole life will now change for the better.
Well Jimmy, after stomping on my hopes and dreams Saturday night at the Home Depot Center with your 17th minute sayonara I call bullsh.. false advertising!
After meeting Jimmy in-person earlier this month when TSG was at the US Soccer training camp, I actually believed my life had changed for the better. I started a new job, attended the Jets playoff beatdown of the Chargers in my own backyard and matched all my socks coming out of the dryer.
Things were looking good.
Then came Saturday.
JC gets a red card, the USMNT gets thumped 3-1, the Knicks get walloped by 50 and the Jets fell apart in the second half versus the Colts. In other words, I’m not quite sure what to believe anymore. While the USMNT and greater soccer public is probably harboring a grudge against Conrad, take a read of our time with him and the scales of injustice will begin to balance.
Perhaps the only thing I know for certain following my short time with Mr. Conrad after a US training session earlier this month in Carson is this – what you see is what you get with Jimmy Conrad. He’s comes across just as engaging, funny and intelligent after practice talking 1-on-1 as he does through his multi-pronged media exposure.
Upon meeting Conrad, he took a quick glance down towards my notes which happened to be a page marked “Conor Casey” and immediately informed me that he was not, in fact, Conor Casey, but Jimmy Conrad.
(Thanks for the heads up, Jimmy, but we know you’re not bald. We know you don’t score goals, you give up fouls in the box. Zing!)
And thus we were off on a great Jimmy Conrad experience that touched on MLS, teaching math and playing in Poland among other things. You’re going to want to stay around for the Poland part.
Of course TSG’s first question of Mr. Conrad centered on his wing in the TSG Comment Hall of Fame. After explaining its existence to Conrad, TSG asked for his criteria in allowing entrance into the hallowed halls of the Jimmy Conrad Wing for humorous commentary.
JC’s advice? “Got to be sharp wit, obviously…you don’t take yourself too serious. That’s gotta probably be number one. You act like you do, but you really don’t. You think you know it all, but you really don’t and…you acknowledge that you don’t it all.”
One thing Jimmy Conrad does know about is playing for the USMNT. As the elder statesmen of the just completed January camp, Conrad took the opportunity to lead by example (with one notable exception) and share his experiences with the squad of mostly up-and-comers the past few weeks in Carson.
“I am the only guy here with World Cup experience,” said Conrad, “so I tell people how special it is to represent your country in that competition. Even for the guys who are at their first camp…just what it means when you step on the field when you wear the practice jersey and make sure that they realize it comes with a great deal of honor.”
The 32-year-old defender arguably has the longest string of success among Americans in recent history having won a NCAA championship, US Open Cup, MLS Cup and Gold Cup as well as made an appearance in a World Cup.
Yet, he still has aspirations on the field. Outside of a World Cup title, the long-time Wizard’s number one goal is “to win a MLS Cup as a captain. I think it would be really neat to be the first guy to touch the trophy and lift it up and hand it off to my teammates and coaches and stuff would be a big honor and something I have been striving for the last five years in KC.”
In addition to his work on the field, Conrad is very busy off it including numerous charitable activities that netted him a 2009 Humanitarian of the year award from the US Soccer Foundation and MLS W.O.R.K S., guitar-hero escapades versus Freddy Montero and ESPN.com articles. As many American soccer fans know, Conrad stirred the pot this past December with his ideas for re-shaping soccer in the US. While Conrad’s ideas were many, what would be his number one priority if he slipped into Don Garber’s chair for a day?
For Conrad it would all be about the future, the grand plan. “I’d really kind of sit down with the owners and try and decide how this thing should evolve,” said Conrad. “What’s the direction? What are we really trying to achieve? What’s the end game? Are we trying to get to club autonomy and free agency and make it like a real league in this country or are we satisfied with what we have and just to build slowly and go from there?”
The KC Wizard then went on to say he’d also like to “bridge the gap between point A and point B [in American soccer] so the people at the bottom know exactly what they have to do to get to the top.” Reminding Conrad of the recent formation of a Division 2 he deadpanned, “clearly my impact.”
Though Conrad would consider a management role in MLS following the conclusion of his playing days, he might be headed to the sideline first. “I do have some dreams of being a coach in MLS…I am going to call myself ‘The Most Special One.’ I think the MLS needs a little more personality in the coaching department.” (Actually Jimmy, MLS and more broadly American soccer needs more personality everywhere.)
With the brother TSG being of Polish descent we would have been remiss if we didn’t close our time with Conrad by asking him about his brief stint at Poznań in 2000 and the tenor of Polish football at that time. “[Poznan was] pretty intense,” said Conrad. “We had some nasty hooligans once when I was there and they stormed lockerroom because the goal keeper made to errors and they were looking for him. And he was like crying in the shower like, ‘don’t hurt me.’ It was insane…yeah…they were insane and I loved it. They loved me, so it was good. They were all like NFL linebacker size. Huge. It was unbelievable.”
Think that recent US exports Ricardo Clark and Stu Holden will have similar experiences in their forays across the pond? (I hope not.)
While most players soccer odysseys would be winding down as they approach their 33 birthday, one gets the feeling that Conrad is still somewhere in the middle of his journey. Answering a question about the impact of soccer off the pitch, JC offered the following insight into how he works.
“Soccer is life is metaphor is not a bad thing…when I am at home with my wife I always give her soccer analogies to explain every situation and she is like ‘enough’ and I am like, ‘I haven’t done anything else…what do you want me to do.’ This is just how my life works.” He added, “She is pretty much over the soccer analogies.”
As my interview with Jimmy Conrad came to a close, a line from the movie Blades of Glory popped into my head. Adapting that line to Mr. Conrad it would go something like this: