FRISCO, Texas - After practice on Monday morning, FCDallas.com caught up with one of the new additions in 2014, Brian "Cobi" Span, for a quick Q&A in an effort to get to know the 21-year-old a little better. Span joins FC Dallas after spending the last two years with Swedish Allsvenskan side Djurgårdens IF.
First off, the question we all want to know. Brian or Cobi?
Tell us a little bit about the origin of that nickname.
When I was younger, I would play with a lot of the older kids and my coach used to think I played like Cobi Jones because I was smaller than everyone else and Cobi was always a smaller, quicker player so he would say ‘Cobi Jones, Cobi Jones’ and all my teammates started calling me Cobi. It stuck with me and even my friends at school started calling me Cobi.
Do your parents call you Cobi?
No, my parents don’t call me Cobi but my brother does. Everyone I know has always called me Cobi since then.
Tell us a little bit about where you grew up.
I was born in the Bronx but I moved out when I was young and lived in Westchester County and went to a school called North Salem. I played for a club called FC Westchester.
What got you into soccer?
My brother started playing before me. He’s a couple years older than me and I’d always watch him play, but I was too young. I always wanted to do what he did so when I started playing with him I fell in love with the game.
You’re from the New York area, are you a fan of the typical NYC teams?
It’s hard to say. I always liked the Knicks but I’m kind of a Lakers fan mainly because of Kobe. I like the Jets, too.
You took a little bit of a different path with your soccer, leaving Virginia early to go play in Sweden. That’s a huge step, what all went into that decision?
The team was following me for a while and I think I was at a point in my career where it was a big step developmentally to become a much better player, faster. At 19 years old, it was one of the most important times for me as a player and I think going there it really helped develop myself as a player on and off the field.
From a living standpoint, what’s the biggest difference between Sweden and America?
Everything is much different. A different type of people and then the weather, it’s really cold and it’s a long winter. I haven’t even felt much warm weather since I’ve gotten back here.
What's the biggest difference between Swedish and American soccer?
It’s just really technical there. Everything is really focused on tactics and where you're supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there. If you don’t get into the system, then they’re not really going to give you the chance because they want everyone in the right place at the right time.
What did you learn most about your soccer while you were there?
Really, I learned how to be a professional. Going from college to the professional game, you really can’t act the same way. It’s more of a job. Guys are trying to take your job every day and you only train for two hours, but those two hours you have to be totally focused and take care of yourself both on and off the field.
What was your favorite thing about living in Sweden?
I lived in Stockholm, so it was a beautiful city. I got to meet a lot of nice people and really learning a new culture was the best thing.
What was the worst thing about it?
Aww man, the weather. The weather in the winter.
What was the American thing you missed the most?
Getting food late at night. All the stores close at 11 o' clock in Sweden. You can’t get food later than that. Say if you get home late from a game you have to cook and it was annoying because you’re just too tired.
So you’re a guy from the northeast, you’ve lived in Sweden for the past couple years. What’s going through your head when you get allocated to Dallas? Quite the change.
The first thing I thought was wow, I’d never been to Dallas in my life. I’ve never had the chance to come out here, so I just thought of open spaces. I got here though and it’s nice. I love the facilities, everything is a really relaxed culture, so I like it already. The people are great.
So we see you’re a guy that’s active on Twitter, talking with other guys around the league. Who are some of your main friends within MLS?
Did you talk to any of those guys before making the decision to come back to MLS?
Yeah, I did. I’ve always kept in touch with them and they gave me their advice for sure.
Did you know anyone on FC Dallas?
Yeah, I know Matt Hedges. We played together on [PDL side] Reading United.
Who’s the best Twitter follow in the league?
*As Kellyn walks by in the hallway* Kellyn Acosta, I’ll have to say.
Who’s your go to team on FIFA?
I usually use Arsenal or Real Madrid.
There’s so many. An old favorite is 50 Cent. New stuff, I like Kendrick Lamar.
Favorite soccer team outside of FC Dallas?
Arsenal. I used to always watch Henry when I was younger.
What kinds of things do you do in your free time?
I’m a pretty chill guy. When I was in Sweden, I’d just go into town and go to coffee shops, get food and hang out with friends. Nothing crazy, FIFA is about it.
That was the next question. You say on Twitter you have a good FIFA game, any message to the rest of the league about FIFA?
I’m ready for anyone. All I need is a challenge and I’m ready to play, call me out.