Thursday, February 14, 2008

Meet the Rookies: Matthew Britner

Matthew Britner knew Steve Nicol was watching.

During the course of Britner’s collegiate career at Brown University, a short trip south of Foxboro, MA, the tall defender felt that he was gaining plenty of attention during his time in Providence. Just to be sure, Britner capped off his senior season by earning 2007 Ivy League Player of the Year honors.

Along with Brown coach Mike Noonan’s familiarity with Nicol (the two are often seen chatting with each other at Revolution reserve matches), it wasn’t a stretch to assume that Noonan may – just may- have had something to do with Britner’s selection by New England in the third round of this year’s SuperDraft.

“It’s entirely possible,” said Britner after a recent Revolution training. “Coach (Noonan) will do anything to push his program. I also think that because Steve scouts some of the (Brown) games (in Providence).”

So when Britner’s name was announced as the 41st overall pick, he was thrilled to find out which team was choosing him.

“I was just happy to be drafted in the first place. But when I heard it was the Revolution, and Steve Nicol called me, I was extremely excited,” said Britner.

Excited indeed. Not only because of the short distance he had to travel from Brown to meet up with his new club, but because of the familiarity he had with the area, as well as the team.

“I think of all of the destinations in MLS, this is where I wanted to be for a bunch of reasons,” said Britner. “One (reason) being because I’m already familiar with the area. Another (reason) because I know a few guys on the team already.”

Although he has already caught the attention of Nicol and the rest of the coaching staff to warrant a draft slot, Britner is currently in training without a contract. In other words, he’s with the club on trial. But he doesn’t look at his situation as a disadvantage.

“Just coming in here as a rookie, I’m here to prove myself,” said Britner. “This may be the first extended period in which the coaches can evaluate my play. I’m just coming here and working as hard as I can to show that I can play at this level.”

With more than a month and a half of training, preseason matches, and more training before the start of the regular season, Britner will certainly have the time to prove his worth.

Another thing working in his favor: his height. The 6-1 defender is one of the tallest players in camp right now. With the strong possibility of Nicol employing the 4-4-2 this season, Britner may find earn a spot on the club before long.

He knows earning that spot won’t be easy. But he also understands the challenges ahead of him.

“Obviously, everyone wants to play. I’m realistic about it. Everyone has to prove themselves day in and day out. Obviously, everyone wants to be in the starting XI. But if I can just continue to develop as a player and improve, and make strides – whatever that may be.”

That’s all he can really do right now. Without a body of work in MLS to fall back on, nevermind a contract, Britner knows that the primary focus right now is to continue proving himself in training. And from there?

“Hopefully, I’ll win a contract from the team.”


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