Brian Carroll didn’t want to leave Columbus.
The veteran midfielder loved playing for the Crew. His wife, Katie, was happy there. It was where the couple welcomed their first child, Aiden, into the world a little more than three months ago.
But the pain caused by having to uproot his family has been dulled by the joy of returning to his East Coast roots and reuniting with old friends. And Carroll – who was traded to the Union on the same day as the Expansion Draft, a move that was set in motion when Union manager Peter Nowak learned Carroll would be left unprotected by Columbus – is pleased Philadelphia is the destination.
“Whenever you move from a situation you enjoy, especially when you have a family, it’s a little unsettling,” Carroll told MLSsoccer.com. “However, if it’s any place I’m going to go, I’m glad it’s Philly and I’m glad it’s with Peter. I know what this team is capable of and I certainly know what Peter is capable of.”
Carroll and Nowak first bonded in the nation’s capital when the young manager and the young player brought an MLS Cup to D.C. United in 2004. Carroll also knows Union midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi, whom he played with in Columbus, and Union assistant coach Rob Vartughian, an old teammate of his at Wake Forest.
“They’re all giving me insight what it’s like there,” said Carroll, who has played in over 200 MLS games and has also earned caps with the US. “They’re helping me on the phone with the transition and making life as easy possible. It’s up to me once I get there to become familiar with the area.”
Although he hails from Virginia and spent five seasons in DC, Carroll hasn’t been to Philly too often. But the city, the players and the franchise’s new stadium made an impression on him when the Crew visited PPL Park on Aug. 5.
Carroll started and played all 90 minutes in that game, a 2-1 Columbus win that was dictated by Crew reserveSteven Lenhart, who scored twice on diving headers.
“I thought they moved the ball well and they were a tough team to break down,” Carroll said. “They put on a good performance against us. … The potential is there. They can be a dangerous team.”
Once he moves to Philadelphia, settles into his new home, finds a new pediatrician for young Aiden and adopts his new role under his old coach, Carroll will add to that team’s potency. It’s a stressful thing to have to change your life on a whim – but at the same time, the possibilities are invigorating.
“We definitely have the tools and the core to move forward and progress and make the playoffs,” said Carroll, who has never missed the postseason since joining the league in 2003. “And once you make the playoffs, anything can happen.”
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