After his freshman year, Michael Brady, the two-time all-America player for American University's soccer team, was getting advice from everybody. He just didn't know who to listen to. Brady eventually made the decision to stay in school and put off turning professional. It's a choice he hasn't regretted.
As a sophomore he was named a first-team all-America midfielder. Last year he was chosen second-team all-America at striker. He was the university's first all-America athlete since basketball player Kermit Washington in 1973. In his four years, he has 64 goals, 174 points and 26 game-winning goals, all school records. But Brady says the most exciting thing is that the Eagles' 1985 season isn't over yet.
Having beaten George Mason, 3-1, last Saturday, American (17-2-2) will play South Carolina (20-2-1) in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament today in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks should be a difficult opponent. They eliminated defending national champion Clemson, 1-0, in double overtime last week and are taller and more physical than the Eagles.
"Their height is going to cause problems on free kicks, corner kicks and throw-ins," said Brady, who was born in Chicago, but grew up in Coventry, England, and has a British accent. "We have to be aggressive and put them off their heading game."
An Eagles victory would put them into the semifinal against the winner of the Hartwick-Boston University match and one step away from the national title game in Seattle Dec. 14. If they lose, it would bring to a close what will be remembered at American as "The Brady Years." At one point three years ago, it easily could have been "The Brady Season."
"After my first year, I was very happy with soccer and the season, but things weren't going well personally," he said. Brady wasn't on full scholarship and was working two jobs to meet costs. "I'd finish a game on Wednesday and run to work (at a restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue). In the mornings I worked on campus, giving tickets to illegally parked vehicles."
He was far from home and there was the allure of professional soccer in this country and in Europe.
"The NASL wasn't too bad off," Brady recalled. "Maybe I'd like to try it. At least that way I could have lived like a normal person. If that fell through, I could go back home."
His coach, Pete Mehlert, advised him to stay in school. "It was fair advice," Brady said, "but I thought it was biased because he wanted me to stay on his team."
He also spoke with John Kerr, who was in charge of the NASL players association at the time. "He said it would be more beneficial to stay at school," Brady said. "Especially with the state of the NASL. But he also wanted me to play for his amateur team, as much as he was being honest."
Brady eventually played for Kerr's team, Montgomery United. He scored the winning goal when it won the under-19 national championship in Omaha the summer after his freshman year.
Finally, Gordon Bradley, the current coach at George Mason who had turned pro in England at 16, counseled him. "He was very patient with me," Brady said. "He had been in the same position as I was. And he showed me the options of trying to turn professional."
But the most convincing argument for staying in school came from a friend, Scott Snyder. Snyder had played for American, but returned to England to play professionally. "I went home on a holiday and he told me how much he missed it (school and the country)," Brady said.
Brady likes living here so much, he hopes he will get an offer from a professional indoor soccer team. "I don't love the indoor game," he said. "At this moment, in this country, it's the only option."