Brian Carroll played more than 75 percent of his long career in Major League Soccer for the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, two teams he’ll see square off on Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium.
He’ll be there as a guest of the Philadelphia Union along with dozens of other former players for the team’s first alumni night event. The retired captain — with 380 league appearances in 15 seasons to his name — was back in Chester on Friday, wearing a sport coat and greeting his former teammates in the Power Training Complex annex building after their final training session before the game.
“I was here for seven years and made a lot of good connections, coaching staff, the academy, teammates that are still here,” Carroll said. “It’s just good to be back in the area I called home for seven years and where we had two of our children.”
Carroll isn’t that far removed from the game but even in the short time he’s been pursuing his second career in financial services in Indianapolis, where he lives with his wife and three children, he’s noticed a change in the league and in the team he made 166 appearances for from 2011-2017.
“It puts a smile on my face following the club and seeing how well we’re doing this season,” he said. “I follow all the clubs that I used to play on and I follow the league in general pretty closely. The amount of growth that happened from the time I started playing until I finished was tremendous but now I feel like it’s just happening at warp speed.”
Carroll no longer plays the game, but he helps out as a volunteer coach for his son’s team and a local 2005 team and works primarily with professional soccer players and other athletes as a financial advisor.
“It’s no different than being a good communicator on the field, rolling up your sleeves and doing the work that you need to do,” Carroll said of his new career. “It’s fun. It was a passion of mine while I was playing personally, just being an educator and talking guys through situations and now I get to do it for a living, sort of blend my past life being an athlete and soccer play with now what I’m currently doing in financial services. It’s another dream come true and I’m just thankful to be able to do it.”
Life after soccer has come with some added perks for the 38-year-old, like weekends off and being able to schedule a summer vacation with his family.
“I can plan my weekends and my vacations in advance now,” he said. “I perfectly enjoyed being regimented in that manner and having things organized and set up, knowing when I was starting and when I was ending but being able to take a summer vacation was pretty cool.”
A Fairfax, Virginia native who played three seasons at Wake Forest before being drafted by his hometown team, Carroll won MLS Cup in 2004 with D.C. United and 2008 with Columbus Crew and is still the only player to win four consecutive Supporters Shields in MLS. Though he didn’t achieve that level of success with the Union, his time with the team he joined in their second season is one he looks back on fondly.
“It was the first place that I came to where they got a brand new stadium and it was the first place I came to that got a brand new training facility and this Power Training Complex is one of the best places around, certainly one of the best places that I was able to call home and work out of for such a long period of time,” he said. “I’m just excited to be back, be around the environment, see how much has changed and how little has not changed. I’m just thankful for the club for having me back into town.”