Cross The Line caught up with Columbus Crew man, Chad Barson, to find out how he is enjoying the MLS and how God has impacted his life.
Liam: Thanks so much for giving us your time Chad, we really appreciate it.
Chad: You’re welcome, thanks for reaching out to me.
Liam: So was it always Soccer for you, or did you stumble into it?
Chad: So there were kind of two options, my dad’s a doctor and my mum was a nurse so the medical field kind of runs in my family. My two older brothers are doctors as well but they both played Soccer too so those are the two biggest things in my life growing up. I knew about the medical world and I knew about soccer and looking back at some of my childhood, like projects at school, those were pretty much the two careers that I always wrote about or thought about doing when I was older. I think it was in eighth grade when I started with the youth national teams and that’s when I decided that I might be able to do this as a career and be a professional soccer player. That’s when I started to commit myself to pursuing it and to doing everything in my power to achieve it.
Liam: So when you were first starting out, who did you dream of playing for someday?
Chad: You always think about playing for a big team in Europe but as an American that’s probably not the most realistic thing. But honestly I’m from Columbus Ohio and I have been going to Columbus Crew games since I was 5 or 6 years old. I was born in 91 and the league started in 96 so I’ve been going to Crew games almost my entire life and I wanted to play for the Crew. They are my home town team and Brian McBride was my favourite player.
Liam: What are your ambitions with Columbus Crew, do you think you can win the title either this season or next?
Chad: I think we can, I think our coaching staff has done a great job of building up a programme with an identity, with a purpose and a style of play. I think that shows when teams play against us because they really struggle, we love to keep possession of the ball and have purpose in our play. I think it is an attractive style of football and our coach have done a great job in implementing that style in the two years since he’s been here. I think we can do it this year, we have all the pieces, guys are bought in and are committed to this. Also the fans are really committed to this as well.
Liam: Are you personally excited by the growing popularity of the MLS?
Chad: I am, it’s pretty cool. So growing up you watch those guys in some of the biggest teams in Europe and who have had unbelievably successful careers and then they come over here and you get an opportunity to play against them. You have the likes of Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Kaka, those are guys who I watched when I was young and then you get to share the field with them and play agains them. It’s a pretty crazy feeling.
Liam: So you’ve already touched on it there, who is the best player that you’ve played against?
Chad: Probably Thierry Henry. I think it just shows, in his last season playing in the All Star game against Bayern Munich he was still the best player on the field. At an older age the way that he just seized the game and was two steps ahead of everyone else is just incredible. I went up against him a few times, I don’t think he embarrassed me at all, fortunately for me. It’s pretty cool to be going up one on one against a guy that talented.
Liam: Who is the best player that you have played with?
Chad: Honestly, I think I would say Darlington Nagbe, we played at college together for the university of Akron and he is just now get to the peak of his career, he has been really underrated. People know he’s talented but they may say he doesn’t always produce in the goal and assist column, however if you look at what he does on the field, he draws so much attention and that gives so much freedom to the other players. I think he is going to have an unbelievable career with the national team in these upcoming years.
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Liam: Would you want to move to the Premier League, should an opportunity arise some day?
Chad: Absolutely, the EPL has shown that it’s the best league in the world and it gets so much attention, just the quality of play, the talent of individuals. Yeah if I had that opportunity then I would jump at it.
Liam: Chad you are open about your relationship with God, when did your faith become real to you?
Chad: It was when I was young, I grew up with Christian parents and they always emphasised having a relationship with Christ, I can’t remember not being at church on Sundays or there for youth groups growing up. My parents just did a great job of making that a priority in our lives. I was very fortunate with that because not everyone has that experience and sometimes I think what it would be like to have a cool conversion story, but I guess it is a cool story. I had parents that loved the Lord and wanted to instill that quality in their children.
Liam: Knowing what you believe, is it hard balancing the pro soccer lifestyle with staying true to God?
Chad: I think some guys can get caught up with the lifestyle but I never wanted to get too involved with the lifestyle that is associated with professional athletes. I’m never really big on going out or being at clubs, meeting girls and getting caught out in that game. I think the biggest thing is just to stay true to yourself, staying true to your faith and prioritise what is most important in life.
Liam: Do you think pro footballers need to be more open about their faith?
Chad: Professional footballers have such a platform, it is the most popular sport in the world and millions of fans follow it. If guys are sometimes scared to open up about our faith, they just need to think about the platform and all of the people that they can reach just by being a little more open about it. They need to not be afraid to say what their faith means to them, they have an incredible ability to impact people positively and all it takes is opening up and sharing what you believe.
Liam: On that topic, have you had any positive ‘God chats’ with players at Columbus Crew who don’t know God?
Chad: Yeah , so we have a good core group of guys, we have a team bible study every Thursday usually with our team’s chaplain, One of the great things about Major League Soccer is that there is a chaplain for a lot of teams. It helps you to do what ever you need to do to be stirred by the word of God and from there it spreads. We regularly meet with the chaplain to discuss the Lord and it’s great because it keeps the interest of others on the team, they see the chaplain around every week and are wondering what this is all about. It gives us an open segway to share what we believe and if they have questions they can bounce ideas off of us.
Liam: A brainteaser to finish, who is your favourite Bible character apart from Jesus himself?
Chad: That’s a good one. I am going to go with Jonah because he shows that in life sometimes you are given difficult tasks and you may go off on your own path a little but then something happens. Obviously for him it was something pretty drastic that brought him right back.