FC Dallas midfielder Ronnie O'Brien is in the midst of a remarkable campaign for the Hoops, and one of the highlights of his year will come Tuesday when he suits up for the MLS Select Team against Real Madrid for the Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, Spain.
The opportunity to play against one of the most storied clubs in the world is a dream for the Bray, Ireland native.
"Oh, [the chance to play Real Madrid] is great. It's one of those things that's once in a lifetime for us playing in America. It's not as if you get a chance to play against a team like Madrid all the time," said O'Brien, who will likely start for the MLS side.
Since coming to Dallas in 2002, O'Brien has continued to improve his game as well as bettering his teammates around him.
Los Angeles Galaxy coach Steve Sampson said of O'Brien after a match earlier this season against FCD: "I think O'Brien played exceptional. He is so dominant in the midfield, I think he is one of the very best players this league has ever had; he is having a wonderful year."
The Irishman joined Juventus of the Serie A in Italy at the age of 20. During his tenure with the club he spent much of his time on loan, but during this time he had the opportunity to meet French international Zinedine Zidane.
"I originally said, 'Ah, I am going to ask for Zidane's shirt,'" O'Brien said. "I will probably talk to him [Tuesday] because I haven't seen him in a couple of years."
But it's not Zidane who O'Brien has his scopes set on to test. He wants to see how his skills compare to the flamboyant defender from Brazil, Roberto Carlos.
Carlos is known for his solid defense and laser-like free kicks for his club and country.
"I have always wanted to play against him. I hope to take him on one-on-one," O'Brien said. "You know, you watch these boys on TV and you look to see how you fare against a team this good. I think it is a break away from our own league as well and hopefully an enjoyable day."
"Ronnie is a good player and very deserving of this honor," said FCD coach Colin Clarke. "Real played well here, but they are in top fit now getting ready to begin their season."
Real Madrid played against Mexican league stalwart CD Guadalajara and the Galaxy in a two-game preseason tour of the U.S. last month, but O'Brien said that the club the MLS Select Team faces Tuesday should be slightly different.
"Yeah, they are going to be a lot fitter than they were when they came over here recently," O'Brien said. "It's going to make for a very exciting game."
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.