Michael Brady, barechested, is standing at midfield while his teammates are kicking at the ball in front of the net.

Brady is not inclined to mix in the intrasquad tangle. In another sport, this American University junior might be labeled a basket hanger, a cherry picker. But Brady is in position for what he does best: score goals.

Brady, 20, has scored a school-record 33 goals in his three years at AU, including 13 in 13 games this season. Last season, the National Soccer Coaches Association named Brady a first-team all-America, AU's first since Kermit Washington in basketball in 1973.

"It's the center forward's job to score goals," Brady said. "And ever since I can remember I've been the top goal scorer."

That stretches back to the industrial city of Coventry, England, where he grew up and played for his school -- Bishop Ullathorne.

Brady's talent will be tested today (3 p.m.) when the Eagles (9-4) play at George Mason (11-1-2). The teams have split over the last four years, all four contests ending 1-0.

Brady came to AU because he wanted to get an education.

"In England, when you're 16 you have a choice." said Brady, whose accent betrays his central England background. "If you're good enough, you can join one of the club (professional) teams and dedicate yourself to soccer, or you can continue with your education."

He remembers that the Wolverhampton Wanderers and the Blackburn Rovers and a few other teams expressed interest when it was time for him to choose.

"I played with a few clubs when the school season ended, but purely as an amateur," he said. "I wanted to continue my education and keep playing soccer. Noel Cantwell (coach of the late NASL Jacksonville franchise) is a family friend, and he had a friend who knew Pete Mehlert (the AU coach)."

Working with Mehlert hasn't always been easy for Brady. In practice Mehlert appears a taskmaster; he routinely stops practice to correct a player, even the talented Brady, for a misdemeanor another coach might simply dismiss.

"His goal is perfection," Brady said. "Because he expects a lot of me I perform better . . . You find out where your weaknesses are."

Brady is majoring in marketing at American, but would probably defer a career in business to play professional soccer in this country. "Recently I've had to think more about playing indoors because of the state of the NASL," he said. "We work out indoors in the winter, but it's just not the same atmosphere."

Brady said he doesn't feel guilty about earning an all-America spot. "I was born in Chicago so I'm an American citizen. But I only lived there six months before we moved back to England."