American Exports: O'Brien says staying in Denmark will get Klinsmann's attention
AMSTERDAM – Though he had interest on the continent, fresh FC Nordsjælland pick-up Conor O'Brien says he has landed in the perfect spot to continue an upward career path.
Clubs from Belgium and the Netherlands were in frame for the winter free agent, who developed into one of the Superliga's finest midfielders during 18 months with mites SønderjyskE. However, he opted to remain in Denmark with the defending champs.
"I felt like I had more to prove here and learn here," O'Brien explained to MLSsoccer.com. "I had a really good meeting with the coach and it seemed like we had the same goals, so there really wasn't any other club in my mind after that."
Most often used as a deep-lying playmaker in SønderjyskE's 4-2-3-1 set, the New York native could be in line for a more advanced role in the Wild Tigers' Total Football look.
"They've looked at me in all three central midfield spots so far," said O'Brien, who is now in his third week of preseason FCN camp. "I feel comfortable in all three."
The holders currently stand second, 12 points adrift of leaders and nearby rivals FC Copenhagen with 13 games remaining. Manager Kasper Hjulmand is aiming to get his charges back to the Champions League, but four clubs are within five points of that second invite.
"It's going to be a really hard fight, but it's the goal here," declared O'Brien, who has yet to appear in a European match.
In addition to club aspirations, the 24-year-old is hoping to finally break in to the US national team frame. Though a bit surprised not to have received any contact from Jurgen Klinsmann's staff after a sterling 2012, O'Brien believes joining FC Nordsjælland can kickstart his international career.
"I think it'll definitely be easier now that I'm in Copenhagen for him to come and watch me, instead of being in a small town," he said. "He knows the club because [Michael] Parkhurst was here.
"The club also knows that's a goal for me and they're willing to help me. I think they've put out a call to somebody in Klinsmann's group just to say, 'Hey, he's here now, you should come take a look at him'."
All in all, the American is happy with his new station and amping up for March 3, when the club resumes league play with a visit from AC Horsens.
"I don't think words can describe how excited I am to be here," admitted O'Brien. "It's just a perfect fit for me."