Here's a little interview I did with Fire defender Brandon Prideaux after last Wednesday's training session. The 33-year-old Prideaux is retiring at the end of 2009 to become an assistant coach at his alma-mater, the University of Washington. Our conversation touched on a lot of topics; including his future plans, his infamous MLS record, and the 2009 Fire season. Check out the interview after the jump... **You announced your retirement back in June, what was the thought process behind the decision?**
**BP:** A lot of things a lot played into it. I've played for a long time and then the opportunity presented itself to go up back to the University of Washington (where I went to school) and I wanted to get into college coaching and it was an opportunity I just didn't want to pass up. It's a good move for my family, it provides a little bit more stability and so a lot went into it. It's a tough decision but I think the timing is right for my family.
**Just how difficult was the decision to call it quits?**
**BP:** You know it took months and months and months of thinking about it and talking to my wife about it and it was really hard. All of us would like to play forever and unfortunately we can't and so it was extremely difficult.
**You've mentioned you're going to be an assistant coach at Washington. What exactly will your job entail?**
**BP:** A little bit of everything. Recruiting will be a big thing. I fully expect to get out there and work with all of the players - excluding the goalkeepers, there's a goalkeeper coach - but really getting out there in day to day operations of everything and running the camps in the summer and all of that. But there's a lot that goes into college coaching - being in the office will be quite a change for me - but it will be fun.
**You definitely seem pretty excited for the new job...**
**BP:** I am, I am. It's a great opportunity for sure. It's going to be fun.
**What about the transition from being a player to being a coach. Is that going to be tough for you?**
**BP:** Yeah for sure, for sure. I've done this for 12 years now and so getting into the office (I'm going to have an office, that's going to be nuts... [laughs]) and the day to day thing will be different but I'm looking forward to the challenge. It's going to be quite a bit different being on the other side of things. Making those player decisions and organizing training sessions and recruiting and making sure the kids go to class and all that stuff, it's very different. But I'm looking forward to that change and that challenge.
**And you've had some coaching experience before correct?**
**BP:** Yeah, I've coached youth soccer. I had a team in D.C. when I was out there. I coached a team for five years out there and of course I've run camps and clinics that type of stuff.
**Is coaching always something that you've wanted to get into?**
**BP:** Yeah, when I finished at Washington I always kind of thought that I would get into college coaching. It's been a long time since that point and I've gone through a lot of experiences since then but yeah I've come back kind of full circle. I like college sports; I like the amateurism to it. I believe in school and I believe in kids getting an education and I really think that that's important so I'm looking forward to helping the kids out.
**It sounds like you're interested in staying in the college game for a while, what are your aspirations there?**
**BP:** Well yeah I want to be a head coach. I'm going to Washington and - I've already talked to [Head Coach Dean Wurzberger] about this - I'm not going to be a lifetime assistant. It's tough to put a timeline on it but I don't want to be there for forever, I want to be a head coach. Dean knows that, he liked that about me, and hopefully we have success and that leads to me being a head coach somewhere else.
**You've had a pretty long MLS career (11 years...) - looking back on your time in the league, can you just comment on how it has grown, both as a spectator sport and in terms of quality of play?**
**BP:** It's changed leaps and bounds. When I first got to the league [in 1999] it was 12 teams, we were playing in big stadiums and the rosters were 18 players. So roster size has gotten bigger [it's at 24 players now] we've gotten better, definitely better on the field and we definitely have more talent. I think we still do have a ways to go though, and I think we definitely can improve. But like I mentioned, the new venues have changed things, most teams have nice training facilities and nice stadiums and that helps out a lot. Spectator wise you see Seattle up there 32000 people a game which is crazy. Toronto's doing great up there, D.C.'s always been great and we're great here in Chicago. So, there's room for growth but it's come a long ways since the first few years of the league for sure.
**Having played for 11 years, you obviously have a bunch of career highlights. But is there any one moment in particular that stands out for you?**
**BP:** Well the best moments were in 2000 winning the championship in Kansas City and in 2004 winning it in D.C. Those were just awesome. It's such an incredible experience to be with a group of guys for 10 months and go through the ups and downs of the season and then at the end of it hold up that trophy. It's just indescribable. Those by far are the best.
**Now, you're probably going to hate me for bringing this up, but you hold the dubious MLS record of playing the most matches of any MLS player without scoring a goal. At this point in your career, how sweet would it be for you to get a goal?**
**BP:** Ah, the goal [laughs]. I mean yeah, it'd be great but at the same time that's not why I'm here. I'm here to win and to do whatever I can do to help the team win. [Scoring goals has] just never really been my role on the team, on any team really [laughs], and so yeah it'd be great to score so you guys wouldn't bother me about a stupid record [laughs again] but whatever. If I don't that's fine too. Like I've mentioned, I've got some great memories throughout the years and so I don't think that one statistic will define my career.
**If you were to score, would you have any wacky celebration up your sleeve?**
**BP:** [Laughs]. No probably not, I mean I probably wouldn't know what to do. I haven't planned anything out. Obviously if you go - I don't know how many games it is - but 200 and some odd games without scoring a goal you don't really think about celebrations so I don't know what I'd do. I'd probably pull a hamstring running around the field forever [laughs].
- If Brandon needs any ideas for a goal celebration, he should talk to Wilman Conde. He seems to have a few ideas up his sleeve...
**You've played in the league for 11 years and been a part of a couple championship teams, where does this Fire team stack up among the teams you've played on?**
**BP:** I mean we're right there. In terms of talent I'd say we're up there and that's what's going to make these last few months so exciting. I think we do have a great, talented bunch and now the question that comes is 'Can we get guys back from injury? Can we get healthy and gel in these last couple months and come together as a team?' Because you know it's usually the best team that wins at the end of the year. It's not the most talented team, it's the best team, the best group that comes together. So hopefully we can rise to that challenge.
**Do you think this team has what it takes to win a MLS Cup?**
**BP:** I do, I do. Yeah, I believe in this team and like I said, if we come together then look out.
**Finally, how cool would it be for you to go out a champion?**
**BP:** It'd be great. That's what I want, that's it you know? To win my third would be fantastic and that would be the icing on the cake for sure.
Thanks a lot to Brandon for the interview. He's a very nice guy and I had a good time interviewing him. He was also very happy to do the interview with me - something I appreciated considering this was a longer interview given while he was ready to walk out the door after a tough practice.