Brian Carroll is about to enter his 10th season in Major League Soccer, so he knows as well as anyone how rigorous the marathon season can be.
The Union defensive midfielder understands how to prepare in order to report for preseason mentally and physically energized.
“I think it’s a must for me to rest for a little while,” Carroll said in a recent telephone interview. “If I don’t get away, it makes it too easy to possibly burn out. I had some vacations and weddings and they were a lot of fun. It helps me become reenergized and ready to give everything I possibly have from preseason training through the end.”
Carroll started in every game and accumulated 2,571 minutes while scoring his first goal in a Union uniform on Oct. 8, a 2-0 victory at Seattle, the club’s first-ever win on the West Coast.
The 30-year-old was a major presence in the midfield and became a stabilizing force as the Union advanced to the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time with a vastly improved defense. They ultimately fell to the Houston Dynamo on aggregate goals in a home-and-home series.
From preseason training to that final match is an arduous journey at times. To prepare for the trek, Carroll has focused mainly on working out in advance of reporting for preseason physicals on January 25.
“On my own, I’ve done mostly running and lifting and getting that aspect of being physically fit,” Carroll said. “A certain time away from the game makes me come back hungry so, again, I don’t get burned out. I can put everything into it from day one until the end of the year and give it all I have.”
Carroll has been tracking the club’s moves, which have been coming fast and furious.
“I know the coaching staff is doing everything they can to improve the team,” Carroll said. “They have the confidence for them to come in and us be able to jell as a team and create good chemistry. They’ll bring qualities to our team to help us improve and we believe in them.”
Carroll won MLS Cup titles with D.C. United in 2004 and the Columbus Crew in ’08. And he has been to the postseason in each of his nine seasons in MLS.
How about a 10th?
“That is the goal,” Carroll said. “It’s about time I get a third MLS Cup. Hopefully, we’re able to have a strong preseason and that carries into a competitive and successful season and carries into the playoffs.”
Carroll said that last year’s club had excellent chemistry and steadily improved as the season continued. He’s hoping for more of the same in 2012.
“We believe the confidence that all the work we put in and all goals we set are attainable and right there in front of us,” Carroll said. “If we get a little bit better, play a little bit better and work a little bit harder, then we’ll be improved across the board and we can have something special.”