Brandi Chastain B/R Interview: The Most Exciting Players To Watch

Phil ShoreCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2010

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Brandi Chastain of the United States controls the ball during the Olympic Women's Soccer Gold Medal Game at Sydney Stadium in Sydney, Australia on September 27, 2000.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Brandi Chastain can’t get enough of soccer.

Her tenure with the United States National Team ended in 2004, but she continued to play in Women’s Professional Soccer with FC Gold Pride and in the Women’s Professional Soccer League with the California Storm.

She’s written a book, worked as an MLS broadcaster on ABC and ESPN and has been an NBC analyst for their Olympic coverage in 2008.

She’s a volunteer assistant coach at Santa Clara, her alma mater, and she’ll be present at the Women’s College Cup this weekend in Cary, North Carolina as an advisor for the Capital One Cup.

“I just love soccer,” she said.

She’s seen many incredible players and teams and has made her very own iconic moments. While she’s still very much involved in the game, her playing career is winding down. The game moves on though, and Chastain enjoys watching her sport grow and watching players perform.

She says she appreciates all different types of skill sets—scoring, dribbling, making saves—but she said she really enjoys watching great passes being made.

Which players does she specifically enjoy watching though?

Chastain named four players: two extremely popular players, and two that you may not know.

One of her favorites to watch is Argentine sensation Lionel Messi.

The FC Barcelona forward/midfielder has been an incredible goal scorer and creator. Since 2005, he’s made 53 appearances for the Argentine National Team and scored 15 goals. With Barcelona, he’s played in 233 games across all competitions and scored 150 goals (he recently scored his 100th in La Liga) and has 63 assists.

He’s an Olympic gold medalist and won countless awards, including FIFA World Player of the Year and UEFA Champions League Player of the Year.

A lot of good reasons to be a fan.

“He has a command of the ball that is inspiring,” Chastain said.

The other famous player she likes to watch also resides in Spain: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.

The Portuguese forward/midfielder is an incredible goal scoring threat who really puts the moves on defenders.

He’s on an electric goal-scoring pace for Real Madrid, putting away an astonishing 51 goals in 54 games, and is a recipient of the Ballon d’Or.

“He’s got crazy feet,” Chastain said about his incredible dribbling maneuvers. That being said, Chastain does find some fault with his playing style. “I’m not crazy about his tendency to want to dribble all the time.”

The remaining two players the general soccer public may not know, but Chastain is very familiar with them.

They both come from the Women’s College Cup Final Four participant Stanford Cardinal: senior forward Christina Press and junior midfielder Teresa Noyola.

Chastain’s Santa Clara has matched up against Stanford twice this season, losing 2-0 during the season (Press scored a goal and Noyola had an assist) and then 2-1 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Press entered her final season ranked sixth at Stanford in career points (123), sixth in goals (45) and tied with Julie Foudy for third in assists (33). This season she has 26 goals and eight assists in 24 games, and she leads Division I in goals, points, goals per game (1.083) and points per game (2.5).

“I think [Press] should be MVP. She scores all different types of goals,” Chastain said, referring to Press’ ability to strike a ball, place it, and get up in the air to head it home. “When the ball gets near her fans get excited.”

Noyola is an attacking midfielder who is extremely vital to Stanford’s offense. She is second on the team in points (32) behind only Press and leads the team in assists (12).

“She’s not the biggest athlete, the fastest athlete, or the strongest athlete, but she has a way to make soccer look good,” Chastain said. “She has special body awareness and knows where to put the ball.”

Press and Noyola are part of the reason why Chastain thinks Stanford will be tough to beat, but she’s really just looking forward to watching some quality soccer this weekend as Stanford takes on Boston College and Ohio State plays Notre Dame.

"It’s going to be great soccer,” she said. “The state of soccer on collegiate level is the best it’s ever been."