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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

They call him 'Rambo': Meet Union loan target Brian Brown

News "broke" last night – via a post on the website of Jamaican club Harbour View FC – that it had agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Union on a loan agreement for 21-year-old forward Brian Brown. While the Union have yet to make the loan capture official, a club source confirmed that they are in the latter stages of negotiations with the player and a deal could be finalized at some point this week.

That source also confirmed a separate release from Harbour View that Brown had been on trial with the club. (And if further proof is needed, Brown’s Facebook page, as referred by Harbour View’s official feed, features a header image of the Union’s locker room.)

The connections to the Union are numerous. First, goalkeeper Andre Blake, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, came through the youth setup at Harbour View. Blake is part of an uptick in Jamaican influence in MLS in recent years, with three of the first eight picks in the 2014 SuperDraft (including No. 7 Andre Lewis and No. 8 Damion Lowe) hailing from the island nation along with the top scorer from the 2013 draft, Colorado’s Deshorn Brown.

Brown’s agent, per the Harbour View release, is Damani Ralph, who spent two seasons as a high-scoring forward in MLS with the Chicago Fire … where he was a teammate of Union manager Jim Curtin. (Coincidentally, Ralph also followed the same Harbour-View-to-University-of-Connecticut path as Blake.)

And here’s one more coincidence: Brown was on trial in 2012 with Aston Villa in England … at the same time that a young Union forward named Danny Mwanga was also being vetted by then manager Alex McLeish. Neither signed, the reasoning behind Brown’s refusal probably having something to do with the looming issue of getting a UK work permit given the fact that he’d yet to appear for Jamaica.

Regardless of the connections, Brown would seem to fill a need for the Union. After growing up with his hometown club Montego Bay, he moved to Harbour View, where his career blossomed in his second season to the tune of 18 goals last season, earning him the Red Stripe Premier League’s Golden Boot award. (Brown didn't score in his debut season with HVFC in 2012-13, though the club won the RSPL title.) He was capped once by Jamaica in 2013 and has been touted as a high riser in Jamaican soccer circles since his high school and Under-20 days.

The kid nicknamed “Rambo” is an intriguing specimen. At 6-1, 185 pounds (per the club’s website), he’s not overly physical. But he’s got a great nose for goal, as some of the highlight-reel goals he’s scored in the league attest. There are videos of him scoring from a lot of different places on the pitch, and reticence to take his chances in front of goal doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Given the fact that the Union have seen him firsthand in training for an extended period, this isn’t a case of being seduced by big numbers in an inferior league. Brown seems to have the physical tools to earn a shot in MLS, plus he fills a need for the Union. Behind Conor Casey, striking options are limited, and the Union will be careful not to put too onerous of a burden on the 32-year-old as the summer heats up. Sebastien Le Toux has done well this season but mainly in a support striker role. Andrew Wenger has underwhelmed when leading the line, and Aaron Wheeler is in an odd sort of limbo as he returns to a forward role after his ill-fated flirtation with defense under John Hackworth. That leaves a team with no option as an out-and-out No. 9 if Casey is unavailable. Whether Brown could be that option in MLS remains to be seen, but he at least offers another possibility to combine with the others if Casey is unavailable.

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