KETCHUP: BRIAN DUNSETH
Retired MLS veteran Brian Dunseth is back in the US soccer eye once again as a broadcaster, but the truth of the matter is, he really never left.
When Dunseth called time on his soccer career in July 2006 it was not an easy decision for the California native to make. Having moved around to several teams throughout his time in Major League Soccer and helping his soon-to-be wife come to grips with her father's untimely passing, knew he had to ultimately make the difficult choice of hanging up his cleats.
"It was rough," Dunseth told Yanks Abroad. "When you have put so much of your life into one thing and then have it taken away, there are no words to describe it."
"I was at the point in my life where I was frustrated with committing my life to an organization, only to be traded or have my 'player rights' held at an unreasonable price. But there's not a single day that I don't miss the game, the locker room or the camaraderie of my teammates."
In 1997, Dunseth became one of ten promising young players in the United States to sign with MLS through Project-40 - now known as Generation Adidas - which gave players the opportunity to join the professional ranks earlier than they would have by entering through the draft system. Allocated to the New England Revolution, Dunseth would later make appearances for Columbus Crew, Miami Fusion and Dallas Burn before it was time for him to move abroad.
After being traded to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the much-traveled Dunseth was set on heading back to the West Coast, until some issues hindered the move. Instead of waiting, Dunseth headed to Sweden where he signed with Bodens BK. At the time the team was competing in the country's second division, the Supperetan, and along with fellow Americans, Steve Shak and Leighton O'Brien, the ambitious club was looking at a chance of gaining promotion to the Allsvenskan.
Located in northern Sweden, Boden is not the first place many Americans would consider plying their trade. Long days in the summer and even longer nights in the winter can take some getting used to, but for the most part Dunseth had nothing but good things to say about his time in the country.
"I lived in Lulea, which was a decent size city and right on the water, driving in to Boden every day with a few of the players," he explained. "The club was amazing in terms of our housing and the team deal with Volswagen, allowing me to have a car that was paid for. Because virtually everyone in Sweden speaks English as their second language, communication was incredibly simple. I worked hard every day to learn Swedish, but all of my teammates wanted to speak English to me."
BBK had made the move up to the Superettan in 2003 after bouncing between the lower divisions, and the tiny team's drive was shared by fans of the team, and Dunseth highly praised their spirit and enthusiasm as the team pursued their goal.
"The Boden supporters were incredible and always singing. They would always stop and say hello when I was out in public and were critical of the team when we weren't playing well," the Cal State Fullerton Titan recalled. "You didn't just represent the club, you represented multiple cities because we were the only club in the north that had a real chance to make it to the Allsvenskan."
Though his playing career ended almost seven years ago, he still remains involved with game on a few fronts. One of those is an apparel company that he established with college teammate Ben Hooper. Bumpy Pitch, according to the company's website, aims to pay respect to soccer, while presenting soccer as not only a sport, but a lifestyle.
"Sometime in 2004, we started talking about the need for clothing that represented who we were and our background in the game. This was during the height of 'throwback jerseys' and Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc. were focused more on sportswear. We knew nothing of clothing, but decided we were going to learn and carve our own path," Dunseth explained. "We're proudly 'cut and sewn' in Los Angeles and will continue to create in our own style and lane."
An extension to the clothing line is the Original Winger, a lifestyle website that looks to present the culture and lifestyle of soccer. Dunseth said the site showed how being a "soccer fan" did not mean one needed to wear silky sweatpants and sambas.
"We don't break news, talk trash or 'scoop' anyone," Dunseth says. "We tell the stories that are happening around the world, show the highlights of the games and then focus on the cultural side of the game."
The 2001 Columbus Crew/US Soccer Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award winner has also brought his knowledge of the game to the television studio as he has covered MLS games for teams such as Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas.
"I had some great coaches along the way that taught me valuable lessons," the 36-year old reminds. "I think the toughest thing for fans to sometimes understand is that while the individual game is played within the white lines over the course of 90 minutes, there is so much more that is happening.
"For me personally, it's being able to say to a player or coach's face what I say on camera or to a microphone."
Having had a long career in MLS and a season in Sweden, the well-traveled midfielder has firmly established himself in the business world and is a highly respected soccer analyst. However, there is one disappointment he failed to accomplish during his playing career.
"Never getting a full USMNT cap," Dunseth sighed. "I'd been in with the [team] from 1998 through 2003, on the bench more than a few times and for one reason or another I just never got in."
"More than anything it's my ego talking, because I was incredibly fortunate to lead out the US in the bronze medal match at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but it's still the one thing I think about."