The mastermind of this summer’s trending #LoonsHG (Hunger Games) doesn’t claim to be a teen dystopian novel aficionado.
“Not at all,” United’s Jeb Brovsky said between laughter after Thursday’s training. “I only read non-fiction books, honestly. I love history. For some reason, the Hunger Games is flying forward. Honestly, it was just a spark in my head one morning. I think my wife was watching the Hunger Games and I said, ďIf our team had a Hunger Games, who would win?Ē I basically said that nobody would be good at the Hunger Games on this team, but I figured I would make fun of it and see how long it could go on.”
— Jeb Brovsky (@JebBrovsky) July 19, 2016
The joke started as a simple musing and became as much a staple of this summer as Saturday nights at NSC, speculation over “surprise” album releases, or trips to a Minnesotan lake. However, fans began sponsoring their favorite players and Brovsky continued the thread daily during July and the beginning of August, just hoping to have a good time with it.
While Brovsky may not be a fan of such literature, United’s†injury report looked like it was straight out of a dystopian novel during the summer. Key injuries hit the team all across the field, but none seemed more damning and irreplaceable than right back Kevin Venegas’s knee injury in the team’s July friendly against Bournemouth. With experience at the position from his days in Montreal, Vancouver, and New York City, Brovsky was slotted into the spot right away. He’s played up to the challenge.
“I went from making sure my center mid role was solidified to now really focusing on the back four. Getting Damion Lowe, getting Brent Kallman, getting Justin Davis all on the same page and being the voice of calmness back there. I’ve been saying that we donít need to attack on every play, just stay tight and stay together. Itís very difficult to beat us lately. Theyíre buying into that philosophy ó†I think youíre seeing teams having to go around us and not being able to slip little balls through or over the top of us. Weíre getting very good at covering for each other as well.”
Recent results have reflected the improvement as Minnesota have allowed just one goal over their last five games, taking 9 points along the way. Carl Craig thinks this stout defense has come from a few areas of the pitch.
“To be fair, Sammy Ndjock has done ever so well. He†has been through the ringer. Itís important to acknowledge that because itís only right. But Brovsky has been tremendous. I recognize that weíre different in attack when Venegas is on the field, but I think weíre different in defense with Brovsky in that position. Right now, the influence Brovskyís had on the defense is tremendous.”
Despite recent results, Brovsky still sees himself as a central midfielder first and foremost. That said, he recognizes the importance of filling in wherever he’s needed each week. “Anytime you can show your versatility itís a good thing, especially in the situation this team is in going into MLS. Itís an area where guys can set themselves apart. Weíve got capable guys in the back and in center midfield. Bottom line: I want to keep winning. If Carl wants me at right back, if Carl wants me at center back, if Carl wants me to play goalkeeper, Iíll do it. I just want to keep winning. Clean sheets are all that Iím about right now.”
Off the field, there are two parts of Brovsky’s public persona that are making a comeback. Most visible is the return of his facial hair. While he hasn’t committed to the full†waxed-mustache look†of his New York City days, he’s let his beard grow out a bit. (“My wife has been gone for almost a month. I gotta keep it going. I have no reason to shave right now. Nobody to impress.”)
Second, he’s hoping to bring the fan-favorite #LoonsHG back to life, even rekindling it on September 6. He admitted that the hiatus was due to a lack of results on the pitch.
“I took it away for a while because we were losing and tying and I didnít want to kill off guys because I think there are some fragile egos in here. Now, the guys are asking if Iíll bring it back and the fans are too. Itís back by popular demand. I donít know whoís going to win yet.”
While the fictional Loons battle it out in the arena, Brovsky will look to continue fortifying the defense as the club travels to take on the New York Cosmos. Minnesota has yet to defeat the Cosmos on the road, but with both teams battling to win the Fall Season title, this matchup could be a major momentum-shifter for the victors.
Minnesota will certainly be hoping that the odds are ever in their favor.