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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Michael Nsien Q&A

Michael Nsien is one of the new faces in the Timbers side this season. Coming to Portland via the LA Galaxy and the University of Dayton, the assured and speedy defender/midfielder impressed at the recent scrimmages at the UofP. Michael was kind enough to answer a few questions about himself and his views on the Timbers so far.

1 You've played a couple of games and had about a week of practices with the team, what are your impressions of the team, Coach Agnello and the Timbers organization so far?

As far as the team is concerned, we have plenty of talent. The only challenge will be for the coaches to put it all together in time for the season, and once a starting eleven has emerged, its then up to how well the players gel. The coach has a versatile system that he is keen on playing and we have the players to do it. The coach has quickly gained the respect of the players and it seems that everyone is buying into what he has said so far. The Timbers organization seems to be very professional which is encouraging to us players. When you feel you have the complete backing of an organization and everyone is positive on the outlook on the season, the only thing left is to play and win as many games as possible.

2 Tell me a bit about how you got into the game as a kid and about your college career at Dayton.

I was introduced to soccer at the age of 4 by my father. Being a native of Nigeria, my father has a sincere passion for the game that rubbed off onto me. My father was my coach growing up which made it difficult at times, but was very rewarding. I was recruited by a lot of top universities however I wanted to come in and play right away, which led me to Dayton. I did come in and play right away, I was freshman of the year, and enjoyed many personal accolades throughout my career there. The frustrating thing was not ever making the (NCAA) tourney.

3 You played a couple of games for the Galaxy reserves and then you were signed to the developmental roster in late 2005. What was being part of the Galaxy like? Was it frustrating trying to play into the starting team? Was it a good experience overall?

Being part of a team that ended up as league champions was a great experience. It was great in the sense that I learned how much effort and sacrifice goes into being a champion, on the downside, its very difficult coming into a team that is having success and make it into the lineup. When things are going well, coaches tend to not make changes. I'm very competitive so I want to be involved as much as possible. The Galaxy is an excellent organization and I am very happy to have been a part of that. But I also plan to have a lot more success besides that in my career.

4 How did your signing to Portland come about? Was that suggested to you by the coaches in LA, did they mention your name to coach Agnello.

As you probably already know, LA and Portland have strong ties and have had more than a few players to have played in both cities. The coaches in LA did suggest that I come to Portland and further my development. Both sides have been very encouraging to me. LA did refer me to coach Agnello.

5 Your bio says that you have played for the Nigerian U23 team, are you eligible through one or both of your parents being Nigerian? Is that a goal of yours to play for the Nigerian national team one day?

I am a duel citizen of U.S and Nigeria. I was able to be a duel citizen because my dad is a Nigerian. The epitome of soccer is playing for your country. So that will always be a goal of mine. There’s nothing more that I would want than to play for U.S or Nigeria.

6 Watching the scrimmage, you played in the center of defense alongside Scot Thompson. Is that the position that suits you best? You seemed to be very strong coming forward with the ball is that an aspect of your game that you enjoy?

With the capability of our defense, I will have a little freedom to find my way forward on occasion. Most coaches I have played for seem to like the way I go forward, so they encourage me to do so. I love getting into the attack, that’s the modern game of soccer, backs getting forward.

7 Have you got any idea about what coach Agnello wants from the team this year on the field? One feeling that we get as fans is that the team will be flexible. Do you think that's true? Your bio says that you have played on the left side of defense or midfield is that an option this year too?

Flexibility will be the keyword about our team this season. We have a lot of players that can handle multiple roles on the team, so that makes us very dangerous. I am comfortable playing in the center or outside; it’s just up to the coach on where he feels I can be most effective. I imagine I will spend time in a few positions.

8 Looking at the players who have been signed so far, do you think the team has a good balance? Is there any area that you think needs to be strengthened?

With the players we have so far, we have a great balance. The only thing we need now is a bit more depth, but even with our versatility, depth won't be too much of a problem.

9 Who are some of your favorite players?

I have a few good friends that are currently playing in the U.S and are playing very well, but I can't let them know they are my favorites. I still may face them one day. Dempsey has been something to watch. In the world, I like Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, John Terry. There are so many great players but those are a few of my favorites.

10 Had you ever been to Portland before? What are your impressions of the city and the fans?

I have actually never been to Portland before. People keep telling me it will stop raining, I don't believe them. I couldn't believe how many fans came out to just a scrimmage. I am very impressed.

[many thanks to Michael for taking time to answer these questions]

posted by the timberlog at 1:44 PM

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