A Few Questions With Brandon Manzonelli
Me: Would you mind giving a small background of how you got to be where you are?
While I was playing at Scott Gallagher, Manchester United came and put on one of their soccer schools. The coaches really liked my style and told me if I ever came to England to contact them and they would get me a trial with the youth team at Man. Utd. I went to England a few months later and the coach who told me this had moved to Blackburn Rovers. I trained with them for a few days and they told me they wanted me to come back in a few months for a full trial. When I returned I trained for a full week and they wanted to sign me. Before I signed anything I had also trained with Manchester City and had plans to go train with Bolton and Preston North End as well. Before further exploration in English clubs, Villarreal called and said they wanted me to come over to Spain in 2 days. I went to Spain, trained for a week, played in a tournament, scored against Barcelona, and after a total of 2 weeks in Spain, signed a 3 year contract. I played in Spain for a year but was not able to obtain a European passport so I was not able to play there anymore. I came back home, trained at a couple mls clubs, a couple belgian clubs and ended up signing with the New England Revolution last May.
Me: Who has had the biggest effect on your career so far?
I think my mom has had the most effect on my career as she has helped me achieve my goal of a professional soccer player at such a young age. She flew everywhere from Spain, to England, to Belgium, to France in order to help me get where I want. She allowed me to leave my family and my hometown of St. Louis to Spain for a year at just 16 years old. She believes in me the most which helps me perform.
Me: Your fans know that you have trained in Europe. Which country's league do you think is best suited to your game? (Apart from MLS)
MLS is a nice league, but I don't think it suites me as a player. My style is more technical and face paced. I believe Spain was a great place for me as well as England as there is such great skill in each of these leagues and I am a very skillful player myself.
Me: Which professional player do you model yourself after? Whose playing style do you try emulate?
I used to try and emulate Cristiano Ronaldo during his early years at Manchester United. After viewing his achievements as World Player of The Year, I think it was the right choice. HAHA. I enjoy the way he plays as well as it creates a major impact on the game which to me is the most important thing.
Me: Which part of your game do you have to improve the most?
I need to improve mostly on my left foot. I wish I would have practiced on it a bit more when I was younger but it can still get better the more often I use it.
Me: How have you enjoyed your experiences at the Milk Cup with the current Under 20 National Team? Which players impress you from your time playing with them? Who should we (the fans) be looking out for?
The Milk Cup was a great tournament. I think Perry Marosevic who had just been drafted into the MLS and Anthony Wallace who plays at FC Dallas. Another is Vincenzo Bernardo who plays at Napoli in Italy. There are many talented players on the team but these are players who stood out the most to me.
Me: I’m sure you saw the recent USMNT match against Mexico. How did it feel to make an impact in the game (providing two assists in a 3-0 win) against their U-20’s in July?
It was one of the best feelings playing against Mexico in July. I was very proud to represent the USA against them and I was happy to do well in that game.
Me: What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t pursuing a professional soccer career?
I'm not sure what I would be doing if I wasn't playing soccer. I had wanted to play professionally since 6th or 7th grade so I didn't think about too much else. I even promised my teachers and friends that I would play professionally before I finished high school and it just stuck in my mind as what I wanted to do.
Me: Would you advise young players to take your route (straight to the pros) to the top or go to college?
Playing professionally as soon as I did is not for everyone. There is a lot of sacrifices you must make in order to achieve this and some people may regret not going to college or leaving home and everything they've been around all their life. You've got to have a certain passion and love for the game to play professionally and I think this is how many players excel to the highest levels of soccer.
Me: Do you have any trials lined up? Where will we be seeing you in the next few months/years? Where do you see yourself in five years?
I am currently talking to a few clubs in Europe but we'll see where I end up. In 5 years I hope to be playing in Europe and making my way to the top.
Thank you Brandon!