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Heralding the Unheralded: Brian Carroll remerges as steady hand

It's easy to point out the spectacular displays by the Philadelphia Union's Cristian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira, but what about Brian Carroll?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Carroll has been with the Philadelphia Union since the 2011 season, and served as the team captain until 2014 when Maurice Edu was given the armband. The former MLS Cup champion has been around the block in MLS, and has quietly paved out a successful career here in the United States. At the beginning of this year, Carroll seemed to be playing out his days as a role bench player - the kind of player with veteran savvy who could replace a player in a pinch if needed due to injury or suspension and not skip a beat. This is the type of player we all thought Brian Carroll would be in the 2015 season.

Nobody expected Brian Carroll to reemerge from the depths of the bench to be the steady hand that has settled a once capsized Union season, but he has done just that.

The 33-year-old Carroll has never received much praise and accolades for his outstanding play, but it is always players like him that allow for those who do get the accolades to do what makes them great. What makes Carroll so great? As a shield to the back line, Brian Carroll allows the Philadelphia Union stars of Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana to play freely going forward. This was no more evident than in the Union's 3-0 win against the Portland Timbers this past Saturday, where Carroll was as impeccable as he has been all season.

If this were 2011 I would not be surprised in writing that last sentence, but its 2015 (no offense to BC). Less than a week away from his 34th birthday, Carroll should be tailing off in his career as most players do. For Carroll however, in the supposed twilight of his playing days he is performing on a level that quite frankly many didn't believe he still had in him.

So to you Brian, I would like to give you high praise. No one talks about you, as Vincent Nogueira said after this weeks match - and he was right. So not only did he talk about you, I'm going to talk about you. The cog of this team runs through you and has this season. A surprise indeed to most Union fans that their hope of a turnaround runs through your play so far and we will be behind you in doing so for the rest of this season.

On behalf of myself, I would like to say "Sorry for doubting you."