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Men’s Soccer: Brown finds new place in lineup

Joseph Monardo | Monday, September 10, 2012

Irish junior forward Leon Brown takes a lot of things from his father. The son has picked up his dad’s old sport and native music. But Brown won’t restrict himself to the old position his father started him off at many years ago.

The Mattapan, Mass., native has spent time at midfield as well attack this year, but both positions represent a change from his first role on the soccer field.

“It began early, with my dad,” Brown said of his interest in soccer. “My dad, he used to play. He’s from Jamaica, so really he got me into it at a young age. I stuck with it, I loved it.

“I actually started out at center back, but made the move when I was about 13 to forward, and then I just went on with it. It got me here.”

Brown, who enjoys listening to reggae music before games, has found a new role for himself on the No. 13 Irish squad this year. Through five games this year, Brown has one assist and one goal, while splitting time at forward and midfielder.

“It’s a nice changeup,” Brown said. “I mean, I like forward a lot, but you [have] got to do what you [have] got to do for the teamBrown. I feel pretty comfortable out there [at midfielder]. I have played there in the past, so it’s nice to come in and contribute from that spot.”

Brown’s move to part-time midfielder is a byproduct of knee injuries sustained by Irish senior midfielders Adam Mena and captain Michael Rose.

Although injuries may have forced Brown into a midfield spot on occasions, it is a position in which the junior is comfortable, Irish coach Bobby Clark said.

“He played there with his club team when I was recruiting him,” Clark said. “He played there in the wide area, so he is more capable of doing that … When injuries came, you’ve got to look at who else can play things. And the modern soccer player can play in all different positions, anyway. You should have the ability to play in different roles.”

Brown has certainly shown that ability by filling two different roles in every game this season, starting at attack and then returning later in the midfield. Because he usually returns to the bench for a spell in the middle of the game, Brown said he must strive keep his concentration on the game.

“I’ve just got to stay tuned in when I come off, I can’t lose my focus,” he said. “I just have to rally, push through it when I come back in.”

Whether he lines up on the front line or in the midfield for the Irish, Brown represents part of an Irish offense that has propelled the team to its first 5-0 start since 1987. The Irish are averaging 2 goals per game on 19 shots per game after repeatedly struggling to net decisive goals in close contests last year.

“Last year it was a struggle, but I think this year we have a different mentality,” Brown said. “We want to come out and we want to finish teams no matter what. I think our attitude towards that is terrific this year.”

Brown netted a game-tying goal for the Irish in the 49th minute against No. 4 Akron on Sunday. After falling behind 1-0 to the Zips in the title game of the Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament, the Irish added two more goals to Brown’s equalizer and captured the tournament title with a 3-1 victory.

Brown and the Irish will return to action Friday night when they host Michigan State in Alumni Stadium at 7 p.m.