player: John O'Brien : LUSENET : Ajax USA : One Thread

This is the place to discuss John O'Brien, #18.

-- Anonymous, August 11, 1999


For those of you who missed, or might want to re-live, the USA's stunning defeat of Portugal in the last World Cup...

Enjoy the nice 'Eredivisie' goal, on a corner kick by Earnie Stewart, finished off by John O'Brien. :-)

-- Anonymous, February 05, 2003

Almost everyone at Ajax is hoping John will return soon, cause he's the onlyone who can do a really good job on the left side defense.

I'm suprised how many of you american knows about ajx

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2003

Coach Ronald Koeman said the following today (1/31/03) regarding John O'Brien's recovery and role on the team (translated from Dutch, taken from the Ajax website):

"That O'Brien still cannot train with the team" says the coach sadly, "that is becoming a quite a story. John was the pillar of the team, and it shows, because now that he's injured, I don't have anyone to play at the left back position. We'll see who plays in that position on Sunday..."

Doesn't give any type indication as to his progress, but it shows that he's still highly regarded by the organization.

-- Anonymous, January 31, 2003

I wonder what Johnny does with all his free time... Does he get another job? Or does he just party all the time? Maybe he just sits around and watches TV. He should be getting back to playing football. Hopefully this chronic achilles problem (it's happened before) won't force an early retirement for John O'Brien.

-- Anonymous, January 06, 2003

Any word on if JOB will be ready once the break is over?

-- Anonymous, January 05, 2003

John who?

-- Anonymous, December 27, 2002

I can't find information about John's injury anywhere online, why is that? When did he get it?

-- Anonymous, December 02, 2002

I've heard through the grapevine that John is sticking with his very disciplined training and rehabilitation schedule, and that his ankle injury is slow to heal. He hopes to make it back to full strength by the Winter Break. With luck, he'll play again for Ajax (1 or Young) before the break.

-- Anonymous, November 21, 2002

Did anyone hear how John is doing?

-- Anonymous, November 20, 2002

A John O'Brien interview appeared on today, in which John talks about his injury and recovery. I will translate it tonight for Ajax USA, but here's the bottom line: "I won't be fit in time for the Inter game"...

That's a damn' shame... For John, for Ajax, for everyone.

-- Anonymous, November 02, 2002

i hope O'brian makes it back soon

-- Anonymous, October 28, 2002


I'm a big fan of John. I can't understand why nobody talks about him in Holland. He is injured for a long time, but nobody knows when he is coming back. Even on the Ajax site there is no news about him. I am glad someone know, or thinks he knows when we can see him again.

-- Anonymous, October 28, 2002

The latest UNCONFIRMED rumor I've heard is that he is hoping to be ready for Ajax-Inter on 12 November. I don't know if that's accurate, optimistic, pessimistic or complete bullsh*t.

-- Anonymous, October 23, 2002

How long is O'brien out for?

-- Anonymous, October 21, 2002

Who knew that our dear Mr. O'Brien was a comedic genius as well as a great soccer player? Is there nothing he can't do? I wish I could've seen the show...

-- Anonymous, October 20, 2002

I was lucky enough to see the show with John O'Brien at Boom Chicago and I must admit he was impressive. Even more so when I found out afterwards he had no preparation. One of the other performers was amazed by telling me he just showed up that night and was ready to go. I must say they were a bit easy on him at times, giving him easy lines to ryhme with, but he did quite well. If I didn't know who he was, I wouldn't have thought he didn't do this full-time.

-- Anonymous, October 17, 2002

There's also a long report on Very, very nice stuff. It really sounds like John took this 'job' seriously! You know what: I'll turn it into a report for Ajax USA. It may be a day or two before it appears on the homepage (since Jim's out for the weekend), but it's coming. Check back on Sunday night or Monday!

-- Anonymous, October 12, 2002

An absolutely RAVING REVIEW for new comedy talent John O'Brien on Boom! ;-)

Don't forget to click the pictures!

An AT5 camera team was there, says the article. I'll definitely check it out!

-- Anonymous, October 12, 2002

Normally one invokes the old adage "break a leg" to someone making their performing debut. Given Ajax' injury situatiion,I think it's better if I just wish John the best of luck!

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002

This is funny...

Dutch tabloid newspaper Spits (available for free on train and subway stations during the morning peak hours) reports that John O'Brien will perform as a stand-up comedian tonight in Boom Chicago's English language comedy show at their own Leidseplein Theatre. O'Brien will do a few sketches about football, alongside Boom Chicago comedian Brendan Hunt.

In fact, it's announced on the Boom Chicago website as well. Man, what a shame I can't go. I'm going to some other (Dutch language) comedy show at the Kleine Komedie theatre on the Amstel river... It would be great to see John perform (well, hopefully...).

-- Anonymous, October 11, 2002

A report on today's training session at the ArenA just appeared on It says that Wednesday's Rosenborg game comes "too soon" for John O'Brien. So, no J.O.B. in Trondheim.

My God - who are gonna play in defense?? Please let Chivu be ready by Wednesday...

-- Anonymous, September 30, 2002

Jim, this is what the game preview says about J.O.B.: "Whether John O'Brien will be ready for the NAC game, is as yet uncertain. The American's Achilles' tendon is still hurting. In training, his main activities were some running exercises."

Personally, I expect that he will not play yet. It's kind of an unwritten rule at Ajax that a player who can not fully participate in the final training prior to the game (ball exercises/training game), will not start.

Jelle Van Damme's good performance at San Siro as John's replacement probably makes it a lot easier for Koeman to give John one more game of rest. I think he'll go for Van Damme again, to give J.O.B. the time to recover completely.

BTW: I read on some website that the RBC game was on John's birthday. His birthday present: an injury that kapt him sidelined for the Inter game... :-/ Congratulations to John anyway.

-- Anonymous, September 28, 2002

Can anybody offer a fitness update on O'Brien? American web sites are reporting an "Achilles injury" which is vague but sounds dire. I had heard that he "merely" got kicked in the ankle and was expected to recover in time for this weekend's NAC game. Anybody with their ear to the ground in Amsterdam can help us out...

-- Anonymous, September 27, 2002

Hé John,

I just wanted to say that you are a great soccerplayer. You seem very down to earth! I live in Holland (I'm a Utrecht supporter) and I have visited a training in august. Even been with you on a picture, it turned out to be a very nice one! Goodluck in the future!

-- Anonymous, September 24, 2002

We recently received a few more answers from John to our John O'Brien fan interview.

-- Anonymous, September 20, 2002


Do you have an e-mail address from your fans at Doyles Pub in Jamacia Plain, MA?

-- Anonymous, September 16, 2002

Just stopping by to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN!!!!!! Heck of a job in the World Cup for us this summer (maybe the rest of America will wise up now, eh?), and best of luck to you and Ajax this year!!!

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2002

Hey John!

I just want to wish you MazalTov from Israel!!! Keep the good work and I hope that you will stay in Amsterdam till 120! Or you can come to Israel, to my team, Hapoel Jerusalem, and than finish there or here your great career.

Kisses from Israel!

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2002

Happy birthday Johnny! And what a birthday present: Litmanen returns :-)

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2002

John is jaarig! Hoera!

Happy birthday, John! Your performance on the field is always a pleasure to watch. Ajax is lucky to have you! You rock! May you have many successful years of play ahead of you.

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2002

Happy birthday Johny from one left-footed number 18 John to another!

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2002

HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY JOHNNY O!!! Best wishes to a class player on the pitch and a class person off it.As a member of Ajax-USA who has had the pleasure of meeting you the last two Ajax-USA trips, I just wanted to thank you for your graciousness and hospitality. And for the beers at DeToekomst.Best wishes on Sunday, the rest of the season, AND in the Champions League.

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2002

Happy B-day, Johnny O!

I nearly passed out with shock & joy when Johnny cracked in that goal off the corner against Portugal! I know it's been a few months but as an American soccer fan, this past World Cup will live long in my memory. Part of that accolade goes to O'Brien's play. Now if only Ajax would sign Landon Donovan and/or DaMarcus Beasley... hint hint... HA HA

Well, anyway from one versatile, left-footed player to another, although Johnny as a bit more talent than I have, Happy B-Day again, Johnny O & Go Ajax!!!

One last thing... Does anyone know how to get Ajax games in the States particulary the Gulf Coast region now that Fox Sports World is dropping the Dutch League?? Thanks.

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2002

Hello !!!!

Happy Quarter-Century, Johnny !!!!!

Ajax is THE BEST !!!



-- Anonymous, August 28, 2002

hi there, do you guys know why john o'brien(the best american player of the WC '02) doesn't exist on world cup '02 from ea sports it makes the game so unreal!!

john o'brien is the best left-back in holland so!


-- Anonymous, August 20, 2002


John will NOT be in the MLS All-Star game. The US team will be made up of past and present players who have played/are still playing in MLS.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2002

Wow! I never thought that such nonsense can be released! O'Brien in WBA... Looks like he'll be approached by Real or Barca, or MU, but WBA is something ridiculous. What jester is the author of this "news"?

-- Anonymous, July 11, 2002

We all know that losing players to bigger clubs is Ajax' destiny. We also know that a player who had some tremendous performances at the World Cup, is likely to be linked with other clubs. However, this is absolutely hilarious. It's from a site named Tribal Football:

West Brom target Ajax's USA star O'Brien

West Bromwich Albion are interested in Ajax Amsterdam midfielder John O'Brien. Baggies boss Gary Megson was impressed by O'Brien's World Cup campaign with the USA and knows he can land the youngster for a knockdown price. O'Brien has been with Ajax since his teens, but is yet to establish himself as a first-choice regular.

HAHAHAHA. Don't make me laugh. Why the f##k, why the living hell would anyone on this planet swap Ajax for West Bromwich Albion? A very funny report, from the 'RKC Waalwijk target Zidane' category. HAHAHAHA.

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2002

Is John O'Brien going to be playing the MLS All-Star game August 3rd?? I was just wondering because it said the U.S. National team will be playing but I know he'll be playing with Ajax. Anyone know? thanks!

-- Anonymous, July 05, 2002

I read (unconfirmed source) that FIFA has voted John O'Brien as *best midfielder* of the First Round of the tournament. Might be b.s., but it's fantastic to see that, even as pure rumor. :-)

And Becky, you've come to the right place. Just visit http://www.ajax- for info on catching Ajax games on TV in the US.

-- Anonymous, June 19, 2002

In watching the World Cup over the past few weeks, I have been extremely impressed with the American team in general and John O'Brien in particular. As a long time Ajax fan, I was further delighted to learn of his connection to this team. I was wondering if you could tell me how best to keep track of Ajax (and O'Brien)-- what's the best way to watch the games from America?

-- Anonymous, June 18, 2002

A great moment indeed! I hope this little sentence will grow American interest for Eddy Hamel. His story is not about Ajax or football, but about life - and what it's all about.

One correction has to de made though: Ruud Gullit never played for Ajax and he's not a product of the Ajax youth system. In fact: he hates Ajax. He played for an Amsterdam amateur club as a kid (I believe it was DWV, or DWS). He started his professional career at Haarlem, after whicj he played for Feyenoord, PSV and AC Milan.

-- Anonymous, June 14, 2002

Just wanted to pass along that a nice article about John appeared in today's USA Today. The article is on page C-3.The article is chock full of biographical info, mentions of Ajax, and the following tidbit :" Only two Americans have played for Ajax, according to the team's American fan club. The first was a New Yorker named Eddy Hamel, who played 80 years ago before being captured by the Nazis and murdered in the gas chambers at Auschwitz". Definitely not something found in too many other articles on John. American fan club? Hmmmm. Nod nod, wink wink,wonder who the author,Kelly Whiteside,is referring to?

-- Anonymous, June 13, 2002

There are two "front page" articles about JOB in the USA's (arguably) two most prominent newspapers, NY Times and USA Today.

Toward the end of the USA Today article, I found the following quite- stunning statement:

Only two Americans have played for Ajax, according to the team's American fan club. The first was a New Yorker named Eddy Hamel, who played 80 years ago before being captured by the Nazis and murdered in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. O'Brien is the first American to start his journey at the Ajax Youth Academy, following in the footsteps of legends like Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, to name a few.
I believe this is a ground-breaking moment for the story of Eddy Hamel. I have never seen his name mentioned in American media before. I also believe that Ajax USA was the source of this information. I seem to recall responding to an email from this USA Today writer about a month ago. Very significant, I think.

-- Anonymous, June 13, 2002

Oh yeah, one thing... John, if you read this... my girlfriend wants you to know that she does absolutely not agree on your new haircut. She wants you to get back to normal. Don't shoot the messenger...

Remember meeting that Canadian Ajax USA member named Peter 'Floyd' Hassebroek after training...? You look like him now ;-)

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2002

John rocks!!!! He's the pride of Mokum, he scores everywhere!!! (even in Korea, hahaha). We had an awful time here in Holland cause we didn't get placed for the wk, but John, you made us forget about that today!! We're proud of ya!! Keep up the good work USA!! C U in july, when we're gonna shock whole Europe with our champions- team Ajax.... Love to y'all!! xxx Annemarijke

-- Anonymous, June 05, 2002

Here's an interesting article from the LA Times, published today. Ordinarily, I'd publish just a link to the article. But the LA Times' online registration form is so long and privacy-invading, I'll print the entire thing here and save you the hassle and embarrassment of telling them your home phone number and how much money you make.

Former AGSS star ready to shine --------------------------------- * U.S. midfielder John O'Brien played for local club prior to becoming a professional and World Cup soccer player. By Jim Riggio

BURBANK - The road to the FIFA World Cup is a long journey, and for most players, it begins at young age when they are honing their skills.

One player with local ties representing the United States in the tournament -- which begins in Korea and Japan Friday -- is John O'Brien.

O'Brien has made tremendous strides since starring with a local youth soccer club. That association has helped him get to the World Cup, the most prestigious soccer events in the world. O'Brien, a midfielder, who figures to be a part of the U.S. starting lineup, played and trained with the American Global Soccer School at Burbank's Woodbury University.

O'Brien, 24, who grew up in Playa del Rey, is expected to take over as the defensive center-midfielder, moving from the left side of the midfield following an injury to Chris Armas. Armas' injury cost him a spot on the U.S. World Cup roster.

"My goal in my first World Cup ... is to play as many minutes as I can," O'Brien said on the U.S. National Team's Web site.

When he is not competing for the National Team, O'Brien plays for Ajax of Amsterdam, the most famed club in the Netherlands. It was the AGSS staff, led by founder Afshin Ghotbi, who brought O'Brien to the Netherlands.

"First I went to a three-week training session arranged by my assistant coach who knew someone [there]," O'Brien said of AGSS. "Then I came home and they said they would keep their eye on me. I was 14 at the time. Two years later, they invited me back for a trial."

O'Brien will have to face Ghotbi's team in World Cup competition. The coach is a technical assistant with the Korean Republic team. The U.S. is in Group D and will face Portugal, Korea and Poland.

"I think we have a good chance of getting out of the first round," O'Brien said. "One of the key issues is to vary at times between how chaotic we play and how organized -- to find the right mix of freedom and discipline on the field."

After the U.S. had a terrible 1998 World Cup, losing all three matches it played, O'Brien realizes how important it is for the team to improve, so soccer will continue to grow throughout the country.

"The next step is a big step," O'Brien said. "The U.S. will need to get crazy about soccer at all levels and in all communities. Technically, the infrastructure of developing younger players should be a professional environment like what's done overseas."

-- Anonymous, May 30, 2002

Here's a bit of interesting info on our John O'Brien. He's appearing in this Boom Chicago video. Let me know if anyone comes across it. He's mentioned at the end of the third paragraph but I couldn't find him in any of the photos.

-- Anonymous, May 28, 2002

We collected questions for John O'Brien on our web site for a week in April, and got our first set of answers from him yesterday. Check it out!

-- Anonymous, May 17, 2002

Recent interview John O'Brien.....................

Exclusive Dailysoccer interview: Ajax and USA player John O'Brien

AMSTERDAM, April 25 (DS) - by Robin Wyers -

John O'Brien has been one of the rising stars of the current Ajax team that is on the verge of their first league triumph since 1998. Ajax will also battle out the Dutch Cup final with O'Brien's former club, FC Utrecht. Ajax faced Utrecht in the league last Sunday, and a beautiful O'Brien assist created the solitary Mido goal, which coupled with PSV's draw seemed to mean that the title would be going back to Amsterdam. The 24-year-old player is originally from Los Angeles and was named in the US squad that will compete in the World Cup finals, together with fellow Holland based player Earnest Stewart (NAC Breda). O'Brien was present on the left-side of midfield during the USA's recent 2-1 friendly defeat to the Republic of Ireland in Dublin. Dailysoccer caught up with John, on the day after title rivals PSV Eindhoven brushed Willem II aside (6-0), and with just 36 days left before the World Cup kick-off.

Did PSV's win last night make the Ajax players feel a little nervous? Yes I think it did. We know that PSV are playing well right now and you don't expect them to lose points in a home game because it's the end of the season. But you always hope that they could help you out and give you a confident feeling but they didn't. PSV have been doing their best to do everything they can, but unfortunately for them it's not in their hands. It's in our hands and we have to do it.

Surely you can't give it away now? That's definitely the feeling with two games to go, and you look at who we are playing against (FC Den Bosch and NEC Nijmegen), they're not teams that are rated very highly in the league. But then you think you can't give it away but in reality you could lose to any team on a given day. So it remains tense for us.

So you haven't actually been celebrating winning the league yet? No, no way. We've been happy after every game that we've won, you can feel it building but we haven't celebrated winning the championship yet.

How will Ajax approach the game against Den Bosch, as they are bound to put ten men behind the ball? Yeah that's the way they play. We have to win at home, so we'll go forward, spread the field around, feed crosses in and keep some guys back to make sure that they don't come out with the counter because that's very dangerous.

What do you think has been the key to Ajax's success this season? I think that we've got a pretty deep group, with guys stepping up to fill other roles when other guys have gotten injured, and I think that's a compliment to the team chemistry.I think everybody gets along well, and can play well with each other.

Do you think Ronald Koeman's presence has made you more consistent? I think it has. He has a calm personality, and I think that's come over the group as well - we've realised what we've had to do and have been more consistent in doing it, and we've changed formations recently and I think that helps a lot too.

Do you think he will stick to the 4-4-2? Certainly until the end of the season - but next season we'll have to see. There will obviously be new players and what not, but right now it's working well.

You made an absolutely wonderful assist for Mido last Sunday. Do you see yourself being pushed further forward on the left side? Yes, when you play a 4-4-2, you have two central-midfielders who are kind of back, so if you go further forward, there's cover for you and it gives you more of a safe feeling in general. So you can go forward a little more as a full-back.

Do you prefer playing left midfield than left-back as for the US team you seem to be playing in a more forward position? I do prefer playing left-midfield, or centre-midfield. That's where I like playing the most - being in the middle of everything, but a lot this year I've been playing wide and I've gotten used to that. I like that too.

Arguably Ajax's two most important matches at this stage of the saeson will be against your old club, FC Utrecht. How does that feel? It makes it kind of interesting. I always like knowing players on another team, it gives me a relaxed feeling before the game, you can shake hands with some guys you know, you know how they play and it makes me feel a little more comfortable. I know a lot about the Utrecht game too. I've been there, and that helps. I think that we'll see a different Utrecht in the Cup final that we saw here at home. They're going to come out a lot more aggressive, and that's what they do well so we're ging to have to watch it.

Do you think that it might have something to do with the fact that there will be a lot less Ajax supporters and a lot more Utrecht supporters in comparison to the zero they had last Sunday? I think the supporters really help out their team a lot, they're really enthusiastic, and the team can play really aggressive, but even more so if you hear the fans behind you, and it's really tough to beat.

When Ajax play in Europe next saeson, do you think they can be a formidable threat in the Champions League? Formidable, no, we've got the underdogs role, being a Dutch team compared to other big leagues, but we''ll have to see how the team shapes up. I think that in the formation we're playing now we're more solid and offensively we can create a lot more, and we'll be difficult to beat and surprise teams.

Do you think that the core of the side will still be here? I definitely think so. The guys are young guys and have contracts going in a couple more years.

What about Christian Chivu? I think he'll be here. I've talked to him about it and he says he's happy here and it looks to me like he'll stay but you never know. I think a lot of people like to speculate about things - and obviously stuff could happen, but in terms of his feelings, he'll play here for another year.

On another point, what does it feel like to be playing at the World Cup? It's surely everybody's dream? Yeah. I've kind of started noticing that more and more the closer we get, and our selection just got announced, and the tension keeps getting higher and higher when you realise what you're doing. But I've still got these games with Ajax and if I get past those I can go to camp and really concentrate.

Ajax is still the top priority on your mind? You've got to have the World Cup in the back of your head, but the club is the number one priority, but once I'm done with that, I'll be able to taste the full beauty of the World Cup.

What's the US team's objective? To get out of our pool. We've got Portugal, Poland and Korea, the host team so, they're going to be tough games. But our goal is to get out of our pool.

Is this a better US team now than the one that took part four years ago? Last time they had good players but it wasn't a good team, they didn't put it together well. There was a lot of bickering going on between the players after the World Cup, a lot of players didn't like things - this is more of a team and I think that could make a difference for a side like the US.

Do you think that that has a lot to do with the fact that most of the players are playing in the MLS. They've got yourself and Earnest Stewart from Holland, but most of the players are based in America? No, I don't think that has too much to do with it. I think it's just who the guys are and how they can get along with each other, I've known a lot of these guys since I was young, so no one has a big head on our team or anything , and they work for each other.

And America in general. Do you think that the interest in football has increased since they hosted the World Cup in 1994? I think it's increased, but it hasn't increased as much as we would have wished. It's got its foot in the door, in terms of American sports, but it's still waiting to get its head around the corner. I'd like to see that happen, but a lot of that could depend on how the full national team performs on a big stage like the World Cup.

It could be like Lance Armstrong's performance in the Tour de France. Now everyone in America is watching cycling! It could be. If we win the World Cup, it could be the case.

Why do you think that football has never really grabbed the headlines in America - because in the rest of the World it's basically the number one sport? Other sports were there first. When America formed - when they came from the colonies, it was an English sport and they wanted to get as far away as they could from England so they didn't want to do that, so they started their own sports. They wanted to get away from tradition there and do something of their own, that the whole country can identify with - and that happened with baseball, basketball and American football.

Why did you yourself then choose to play football? I always liked it. I played on good teams when I was young and my Mom was a coach and stuff. I played it at a young age and I enjoyed it. I had good coaches who always stimulated me and told me about Europe. They said, "if you want to be real good that's where you want to go - that's where you will learn the most".

Why did you choose Holland then? It was the option I had, and it turned out that Ajax was known for its youth development, and that convinced me to go for it.

What has the US team learnt from their match in Dublin? I think we learnt what it's going to be like to play under pressure. Ireland came out right away and tried to put it to us, and then you've got to really play from your organisation - you've got to make some things happen despite the conditions. I think that could be very important for us leading up to the World Cup because a lot of the friendlies we've had have been half friendlies, but Ireland came out a lot more than in other friendlies we've played.

But of course the next one you have to play is against Holland. What are your thoughts on playing against the country where you have played your whole footballing career? It'll be cool. I hope that some guys from my team will be on there.

Do you think Andy van der Meyde should be on the Dutch team? I could see him on the Dutch team. I think with a lot of players you have to give them the chance and see what happens. It's tough to see, I don't know how he'll do with the national team. He's a great player and eventually he'll be there, but you've got to know when's the right time.

Van der Vaart should be there very soon as well? If Van der Vaart's fit he should be there.

Why do you think the Dutch team is not at the World Cup? I think the soccer world is becoming increasingly more competitive, even for small countries, that you don't pay attention to and I think that you can't underestimate any team.

-- Anonymous, April 25, 2002

Can we blame it on Irish food? Certainly can't blame the beer...
"O'Brien was doubtful only hours before the match when he blacked out at the team hotel. Team officials said he was given intravenous fluids before he passed a prematch fitness test and was cleared to play. "
Full story in New York Times: htt p://

-- Anonymous, April 18, 2002

Damn, not good...

Bad news for Ajax. Also for the U.S. team, of course, but I suppose John missing a friendly game is not such a disaster, since he probably won't lose his spot in the team anyway by missing one preparation game.

For Ajax, it would suck big time having to miss out on John. We are having trouble in defense for the Vitesse game: Bergdølmo was replaced due to an injury against P$V (although he's likely to be ready for Sunday's game), Trabelsi is suspended (4th yellow card) an now John's injury...

If he's to miss Sunday's game, Tim de Cler will probably be given a shot by Koeman. So I hope John will recover... :-/

By the way: check out's interview with John O'Brien, which we translated into English.

-- Anonymous, March 27, 2002

News report I scraped from the NAS list:

Soccer-World-U.S. hit by double injury worry in Germany

By Chris Cowles

ROSTOCK, Germany, March 26 (Reuters) - The United States have been hit by two late injury worries ahead of Wednesday's friendly international against an equally depleted Germany side.

Ajax midfielder John O'Brien is extremely doubtful and striker Brian McBride faces a pre-match fitness test before the match against the three- times world champions, whose squad has been reduced to 18 players after a rash of injuries.

McBride, who was expected to partner Clint Mathis in attack, rolled his left ankle in a match with his club side Columbus Crew at the weekend and has since spent more time on ice than he has on the field.

O'Brien, a regular for Ajax and viewed as a vital part of the U.S. midfield, strained his groin in training Monday.

"I think 'doubtful' is the best way to look at it," O'Brien said Tuesday night.

He was on the sidelines while the U.S. trained at the newly renovated Ostseestadion, home to Bundesliga club Hansa Rostock.

"I was able to jog a little, but right now, I'm really doubtful about tomorrow," he added.

McBride, who sat out Monday's training, did some running and struck a few balls before putting ice on his swollen ankle.

"It's one (playing) or the other (not playing)," he said. "and right now, it's feeling like the other. I think we're just going to wait until tomorrow and see."

U.S. coach Bruce Arena has sent uncapped defender Cory Gibbs back to his club side FC St. Pauli after Gibbs suffered a hamstring injury.

If McBride and O'Brien were ruled out, Arena's squad would be reduced to 17 players.

"We're going to wait until Wednesday morning to name our roster," Arena said. "It's too soon right now and we have to evaluate some guys before we make any decisions."

Arena is also missing captain and midfielder leader Claudio Reyna, who has been recovering from a hamstring injury but did see action with his English club Sunderland at the weekend.

GOOD PASSES "I'm a little disappointed that he won't be playing," Germany coach Rudi Voller said. "He's their leader and we even played on the same team.

"Back at (Bayer) Leverkusen in 1996, when I was at the very end of my playing days, I remember he fed me with a few good passes that I turned into goals."

U.S. and FC Nrnberg defender Tony Sanneh has no fond memories of his last appearance at Ostseestadion, when he was playing for Hertha Berlin.

Subjected to racial taunts for much of the game, Sanneh said he preferred to focus on the game at hand and not the past.

"This is a friendly now," he said. "There's no big rivalry between the U.S. and Germany.

"We both want to win the game, but it is still a friendly. Whoever wins will be pumped up and the loser will just say they were missing their best guys."

The U.S. has won two of the previous meetings between the two countries, a 3-0 friendly win and a 2-0 victory at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup.

In 1998, Germany soundly defeated the Americans 2-0 in the opening match at the World Cup finals.

-- Anonymous, March 26, 2002

O'Brien named to USMNT for friendly vs Germany on Mar. 27 in Rostock's Ostseestadion. The match will be shown tape delayed in the US on ESPN2 at 10 p.m. ET and Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET.

-- Anonymous, March 20, 2002

Nice work, Jim. It's interesting: Van der Vaart is probably the "Star Of The Season" so far, but I also have two 'secret' Players Of The Year: Bergdølmo and O'Brien. The average Ajax fan will probably tell you O'Brien is doing "fine" or "okay" this year. To the average football spectator, that's the best a non-superstar type player can do. But in fact, John's having a no less than superb season. He wins all his duels, always does something good with the ball, he works hard, managed to score a couple of goals and he keeps surprising me with tremendous little thru-passes and flick-ons. And the most impressing thing is, that all this goes for all positions he's played at (right back, right midfield, central midfield, 'number ten', left midfield, left back...). I've always liked John as a very useful player for Ajax-1. This season, I've become a fan. Keep it up, John!

-- Anonymous, March 18, 2002

I wrote a little progress report on every American's favorite Ajacied, as my next "From the desk of..." article. Check it out.

-- Anonymous, March 17, 2002

First of i must state that I am delighted to say that John O'Brien hasn't lost a place in the team with the latest shifts in possition. I have been a fan of John ever since i first saw him play as it seems eons ago at some Ajax 2 game. So needless to say I demand play time for him everytime hahaha Anyways, i wanted to say something to the people that werent in the stadium, and i take it lots of Ajax-USA members werent, sadly. Since last thursday the fans can vote for 'man-of-the-match' by using their mobile fone for voting. This game Nikos Machlas got the honour. Although he played 110% better then Zlatan ever did and i grant him this succes I feel that lots of supporters didnt notice John's game. He played faboulous! Agressive on the ball, nice passes, one of few who was moving around today trying to create openings. And a wonderfull chip-n-pass wich sadly wasnt estimated to it's quality by v.d. Vaart as he headed straight at the keeper. Just had to share this emotion =) Thanx for reading!

Ajax 4-Life!

-- Anonymous, February 10, 2002

Reportedly, US Soccer is announcing that the U.S.–ITALY match in Sicily on Wednesday, February 13 will be televised live on ESPN at 2:30 p.m. ET. (kick-off 2:45 pm ET).

-- Anonymous, February 07, 2002

To nobody's surprise, JOB has been included in the USA team for their 13 Feb friendly v. Italy in Catania, Sicily. (See This game is snugly wedged in between Ajax-RKC on 10 Feb and AZ-Ajax on 17 Feb. It'll be interesting to see if/how John plays in these three matches.

-- Anonymous, February 06, 2002

There's a report on Friday's training on Both Ajax-1 and Young Ajax trained at De Toekomst, instead of the regular training pitches directly adjacent to the ArenA. Dutch crown-prince Willem- Alexander and his Argentinian fiancée Maxima are getting married tomorrow. On Friday night, a massive party takes place in the ArenA, which is the reason why Ajax had to practice at De Toekomst.

In fact, that party in the ArenA is happening right now. It's on TV and I just wanted to extend a quick "thank you" to God the Almighty for the fact that I was not invited. It would be my worst nightmare coming true. Absolutely terrible.

Anyways, here's the bottom line... The report says that John O'Brien will replace Rafaël van der Vaart (who's suspended) in this Sunday's game at Willem II.

Jeezz, what a long post for such a short announcement :-D

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2002

Our friend Super Shota has posted another interview with John (in Dutch). This one was made prior to Ajax's charity friendly against FC Volendam on 12 January, 2002.

-- Anonymous, January 15, 2002

John O'Brien deserves a great, great compliment for the way he's been dealing with the new situation (Adriaanse-Koeman, I'm talking about). He secured a place in the starting line-up under Adriaanse, seemed to have lost it when Koeman arrived, but he's been in the team in the past two games, played well and scored a brilliant goal against Vitesse.

I'm pretty sure Koeman now has Yakubu/Van der Vaart/O'Brien in his mind as "his" midfield, whereas (when he first arrived) he had a midfield in mind with Galasek on it. But he is now below JOB in the hierarchy, I reckon.

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2001

A certain Mr Ben Bell from Media, PA. ;-) led me to this article on, in which pretty much the same thing is reported about the agreements on John's playing in U.S. friendly's. A link to this story is already on the Ajax USA homepage for several days.

"Ajax USA - faster than its own editor"... ;-)

-- Anonymous, November 16, 2001

This is from Ajax Netwerk. They don't mention a source for the report, which is written by Ajax Netwerk's reporter "M". Since Ajax Netwerk's own reports are not always reliable, I'm posting this news here. If anyone knows more about it, post it in this thread!!

"John O'Brien will not play with the United States national team for the Gold Cup, a tournament for national teams in North America, taking place in late January. This is the outcome of a conversation between Bruca Arena, the USA national coach, and Co Adriaanse. In the preparation campaign of the Americans for the World Cup tournament in Japan and South Korea, Ajax' midfielder will only play friendly games with the USA in Europe. Therefore, O'Brien will not play with the United States 9 December friendly game in and against South Korea either. Ajax is due at FC Den Bosch on that day. The American's next game for his national team is most likely to be in February, against Italy in Palermo." (Source: Ajax Netwerk)

Anyone know anything about this? I've not seen this news anywhere else than on Ajax Netwerk.

-- Anonymous, November 16, 2001

Just found a link on Ajax Netwerk to an article on Soccer America, about the game between the U.S. and T&T. You'll find the article HERE.

A few intersting things from the article...

Here's Bruce Arena's comment on J.O.B.'s play: "John did well today. He and Jovan split some of the responsibilities in that position. In the first half we got caught a little bit with both Jovan [Kirovski] and John pushing forwards. We got couple with a couple counters when they were able to find Arnold Dwarika, who I thought had a good game for T&T. I think John had a good performance today."

And here's what midfielder Jovan Kirovski said about playing with John in central midfield: "I think we play very well together. We're both good around the ball, and both good with the ball at our feet. John defends more, which allows me to get forward a lot more, so it's a good combination. Similarly, when John had the ball it allowed me to push into space. Having said that, the way we were playing in the 4-4-2 today I had to play a deeper role as well."

-- Anonymous, November 14, 2001

Interesting quote from O'Brien's recent "chat" on
suprsoccerstud: How is playing for Bruce Arena different than playing for Co Adriaanse?

John O'Brien: They're both pretty "no-nonsense" coaches when it comes to on the field. And I like that. Off the field, it's like night and day. Bruce is very relaxed towards the players in terms of restraints, with Co being the complete opposite.

Complete transcript available here.

-- Anonymous, November 08, 2001

Check out Will the Real John O'Brien Please Stand Up? on US Soccer website.

-- Anonymous, November 08, 2001

No matter whether it was in the first half or the second (was FSW on LSD?): WAY TO GOOOOO, J.O.B.!!! Yippeeeeeee, what a great goal! And Ajax needed it, too. This was an excellent victory, especially because Willem II's Shoukov played the ball with his hand before he pushed it back to Caluwé, who then scored. That goal should have been disallowed, came pretty much out of nowhere at that point. The Ajax players were all complaining with referee Bossen - and they were chasing that blind idiot for a reason.

Anyway - the first 15-20 mins of the second half (the first, for you guys) were poor, but then they started playing again, which I think is a major step forward: so far, Ajax showed all of its best football in the first half of games. Now they've showed that they can actually kick themselves in the ass and play well towards the end of the game.

And J.O.B. took 'em by the hand! Absolutely great! He also scored it on our side, where the Ajax USA banner was...

-- Anonymous, October 28, 2001

John O'Brien is the next player to do a so-called 'supporters's interview' on Fans can send their questions during a few weeks. The interview will be published on later.

Scroll all the way down on the homepage until you get to John's picture. Click on 'Stel je vraag' ('Ask your question') and you'll see a question form. Enter (from top to bottom) your name ('naam'), age ('leeftijd'), e-mail address and city/town ('plaats'), followed by your question.

It would be fun if the supporters' interview will contain some questions by Americans as well, when it gets published on So go for it!

-- Anonymous, October 25, 2001

In today's edition of daily AT5 talkshow, Regulier & Dwars, John O'Brien is one of the main guests being interviewed. He will talk about Ajax, the U.S. team, but I'm sure there will also be questions about September 11 and how he experienced it.

Here's what I'll do: I'll tape the show and make a full transcript of the interview, which we will then publish right here on Ajax USA. We'll have it on line tomorrow. Be sure to check it out...

-- Anonymous, October 15, 2001

Wow... Everyone seems to be raving about John's performance against Jamaica. I'm impressed.

He's been playing well for Ajax too, by the way (against Apollon and FC Groningen). Good for John!

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2001

I finally got to watch a tape of the USA-Jamaica game last night... I am trying to contain my enthusiasm and maintain at least the appearance of objectivity, but heck-with-it: John O'Brien played a brilliant, out of his head, masterful game for the USA. Despite Joe Max-Moore scoring both goals, I think JOB was a runaway man-of-the- match. If the US strikers had finished even half of the chances John created, this game would not have been close.

It's really gratifying. JOB is such a nice guy, has worked so f*ing hard, and has been so unlucky. He finally got a chance to show his quality in a meaningful game, and he did not disappoint at all. I think you could see the joy (and relief) on his face after the game. He's a subdued, low-key guy, doesn't usually seek the spotlight. But right after the final whistle, he was the first player to run over to the Sams Army supporters section, and he jumped up into the crowd, where he was enveloped him in hugs and pats on the back.

Here are some of the comments posted to the "North American Soccer" list-serv after the game:

"O'brien is my MOTM. Fantastic game, very composed on the ball, great passing and great defense as well. Thought he outplayed Reyna (who I thought was solid, but quiet). "

"I thought JOB and Reyna were the best players on the field. They both have those priceless qualities... being able to hold the ball under pressure, create on the dribble, and beat opponents 1v1. Definitely someone I like to see on the ball in a US uniform."

"JOB had one of the more effective offensive-minded games I've seen from a USian. BD, a higher "level of class" is a good way to describe it. He has great confidence with the ball. Every touch of his seemed to have meaning and direction. Plus, throw in the fact that he's a hardnosed player. If he stays healthy, I think we will be seeing that young man an awful lot out there. Off the top of my head, JOB, Donovan and Mathis (and of old, Ramos) are three USians who project confidence when they have the ball. Sure they make mistakes, but all three are very willing, and, more importantly, ABLE, to take on a defender. You have the feeling that JOB was out there demanding the ball from his teammates because he was feeling "it". Very reminiscent of the basketball player who is hot on the court. Feed him the ball! That's where JOB was yesterday at times."

"John O'Brien - 9: I don't think I've ever seen a US player take on so many other players, take such a beating, and still be so effective. He's the real deal. Can we start him for the rest of my life please? He took three crunching tackles and still seemed to play better as the game went along. And he likes to shoot... THANK GAWWD!!!!! In the words of my old college roommate: 'He made some Jamaicans look stuuuuuuuuupid!!!'

One more thing that hasn't yet been mentioned. We all whine (myself included) about the gamesmanship of players who roll around in 'agony' on the slightest contact. Let's not forget to give credit to JOB for the fact that he simply doesn't do it. He got plowed, scythed and abused throughout the game. Popped right up every time, didn't bitch, didn't need no stinking sponge, nothing. You gotta love it.

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2001

Calling out to an X-factor

A nice interview/article with John O'Brien on ESPN Soccernet, dated 24 September 2001.

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2001

I would love to see more of Ajax, comming from Amsterdam but I can't see a lot of Ajax here in Toronto but I do think Brian is the best looking!

-- Anonymous, September 24, 2001

JOHN, BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! I hope AJAX Supporters everywhere will see you back in the first 11 very soon.

-- Anonymous, August 30, 2001


-- Anonymous, August 29, 2001

Regarding O'Brien's current status at Ajax... Here's an update based on some comments I heard from a reliable source inside the club:

The training was intense this preseason (nine games in three weeks). Like a lot of the players, O'Brien was hurting from the hard training, and his Achillies was acting up. He started the AC Milan game at right back but came out because of the problem. It was not severe, but he needed time to recuperate. AC Milan won 1-0, but the Ajax defense had problems. O'Brien sat out the Liverpool game, which Ajax won and, with it, the tournament. He then played the next friendly and was injured in a tackle, so he sat out the Celtic game and will be out for a week or two. His availability for the US in September is uncertain.

Ajax has a lot of players now - something like 30 now on the 1st team. Of the new players, Mido is most likely to impact O'Brien's chances of playing in the first 11. Beside Mido and O'Brien, there are many good players trying to establish themselves in the first eleven: Van der Meyde, Van der Gun, Knopper, Ikedia, Wamberto, Maxwell, Cruz, etc. The selection could change as the formation changes and injuries inevitably occur. (For instance, Cruz, who replaced O'Brien in the AC Milan game, broke his ankle today.)

O'Brien may be able to establish a place in the first 11 once he gets the chance, and it seems Adriaanse might have the same view. One side effect advantage is that the fierce competition for positions pushes O'Brien very hard; he trains very hard and stays focused. A lot depends on what happens this season. If he doesn't play much, he may be better off elsewhere. For now, he seems to be focused on securing a spot on the first team.

-- Anonymous, August 16, 2001

Yvonne - although I can't speak for the creators of this site, another reason John gets a lot of attention from American fans is that he plays on our National Team as well. So US Nats fans are always looking to see how he fares across the water. Hopefully he provides a better showing tomorrow against Liverpool.


-- Anonymous, July 27, 2001

Yup, but cruz very well - again. He shows that he can play everywhere (like O'Brien actually). So if Cruz is better he should play. Too bad for John. Then again we have Trabelsi for the right back side...

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2001

The reason why, Yvonne, is that the webmaster of Ajax USA, Jim McGough, has done a few personal interviews with John O'Brien. Those interviews, combined with the fact that John is an American and therefore of special interest to American Ajax fans, make for a nice personal page.

Of course, the American fans are interested in all other players, too, as you can see in most of the discussion threads about the individual players. There are exclusive Ajax USA interviews with Co Adriaanse and Kees Zwamborn as well, which proves again that we are happy to write about every Ajacied if we get the chance.

Alright - let's talk about John now...

I am usually a fan of his, but he had an extremely bad day yesterday, against AC Milan. Ajax' defending was weak anyway, but the large part of the danger came over John's side, especially when Sergingo went forward over the left flank. John just couldn't stop him and was playing one of his weaker games for Ajax, I think. He was the only player to get replaced on the night (by Daniël Cruz).

I still hope he'll keep his position in the starting line-up, though. He was by far the best right back we've had last year, which I won't forget. This was just a bad day.

-- Anonymous, July 27, 2001

Hello American friends

I'm a Dutch girl who loves AJAX I see there are many things are translate out of Dutch Why is there (on AJAX-USA) only a Personal Page of O'Brien, aren't you interesting in the other players?? Maybe you can tell me that?

Bye Bye Many greats from Holland


-- Anonymous, July 24, 2001

i have been trying hard to find out why o'brien did not play against Mexico (he was sorely missed, the USA was badly outplayed). I'm glad that someone else is interested as well!

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2001

"O'Brien dilemma typical of pressure exerted on Americans in Europe"

Full article:

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2001

I am reading that John seems to have a good chance of breaking into Ajax's 11. This is a great thing, but I think that we need more of our players playing in real leagues, like the Ere divisie, and not the farm system that is the MLS. Against Honduras or even Mexico a national squad full of MLS-ers and marginal european based players will do alright, but if the US wants to really compete, we need a squad full of John O'Brien's. Players having to face the daily pressures of high level football, both on and off the field. I look forward to having John play in champions league, and I hope more young americans follow in his footsteps. My question is this, do you know of any other young guys who are following in John's footsteps?

-- Anonymous, July 03, 2001

Here's what I have been able to learn. This comes from an extremely reliable source:

"Ajax has an early start this year for several reasons. Europe has qualification games early in September so the Dutch League has a break then, and the start of the regular season was moved forward into August. Also, because they were 3rd in the league last season, Ajax has to play games on August 7/8 for the Champions League. Additionally, the Ajax tournament is just the few weeks away on July 26 and 28 (Ajax plays AC Milan and Liverpool). The Ajax coach told John that, with this very early start, there will be only a couple weeks to set the starting lineup, so is important for him to be there at the beginning of training.

"As has been pointed out, the U.S. team is in a good position, which relieves some of the pressure. In the past Arena has said that he wants Europe based players to be getting playing time. While I don't know Bruce's intentions, he may have felt that it could benefit John more to skip the Mexico game, so he could try to get playing time at Ajax in July and August. If John does so, then he would be in top form for the U.S. games on 9/1 and 9/5 (at which time Ajax will have a break and John could be available).

"John plans to go back to Holland this weekend in order to be adjusted to the time change by the start of training. He's made use of the time since the T&T game to do some special training and get in top condition to help him make the first 11.

"I think it was the consensus of the three parties involved that this course would be the best in a long run for John. That could be the best course for the USMNT."

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2001

There has been a lot of discussion this week around decision by Bruce Arena (US National men's coach) to not include O'Brien in this weekend's clash with rival Mexico. Today, this was posted to Soccer Times:

"O'Brien was told in no uncertain terms by his club, Ajax of Amsterdam, he needed to be with the team from the first day of training if he wanted to be considered for the starting 11 in the upcoming season. Ajax begins its play-in matches for the European Champions League soon and the team already has opened camp. Arena allowed O'Brien to go after Wednesday's win."

Full article:

This is so weird! Menno tells me that Adriaanse is still on vacation, and half the team is at the Youth World Cup. So why does O'Brien have to miss such a huge opportunity with the Nats to train with Ajax? He is on the verge of a major breakthrough for US, having played well as a substitute and with an opening for him in the first 11 due to Claudio Reyna's suspension.

Something's up. Maybe the rumor of a trade has put O'Brien on a mission to secure a spot on Ajax 1 as soon as possible. Or maybe Co just told him to come back as a test of loyalty? If Ajax really did send such a message to O'Brien, then I think they're being irresponsible.

-- Anonymous, June 25, 2001

john is the ajax"s dream ,a skil full player ,and desurfs a better place than the 2nd team ,but he"never arguing whith co ,and that are the real pro"s, ficht fore there place in the 1st team ,thats john o"brien.

-- Anonymous, June 10, 2001

I think it says alot for the class of John O'Brien the player that he stepped forward under difficult circumstances on Wednesday night.One,the US were playing a side so hungry for their first world cup place EVER that they can taste it! Two, the US had just suffered the loss of two very fine talents, Clint Mathis(ACL tear) and Josh Wolff(stress fracture).The US needed players to step forward; friendly or not.John O'Brien did so. I echo Jim's sentiments about staking a claim to a midfield slot.I hope Bruce ArenA was watching the same game.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2001

John played the full 90 in yesterday's friendly v. Ecuador, and played very well. He was the darling of the post-game reviews on the internet. One fan called him "pure class" and I agree. He is hard working, creative and very fast, mentally and physicallly. I personally thought he pressed a bit, whereas with Ajax he has seemed remarkably cool-headed for his age. Maybe he tries too hard to impress in U.S. games, or maybe he was just so excited to get out and be a part of the attack. Despite the fact that he played "defensive midfield," much of the USA's best offensive work was created or elevated by John. Well done. I suspect that spot in Team USA's midfield is now his to keep or lose.

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2001

Martijn Jacobs was right! John made it back to Ajax 1 this season, and played extremely well in the unlikely position of right back.

We DID see John play for the reserves against De Graafschap, and we met him after the game, and he returned to the Ajax 1 match for the following game (NAC), which we attended. Since then, John has played in several Ajax 1 matches.

Today, US coach Bruce Arena included John in his selection for the friendly against Ecuador in Columbus OH on Thursday, June 7. See M2:gp:428647:15035+news/display+25659+E

-- Anonymous, May 31, 2001

Here's an update: As many people know, John worked really hard, and yet it took a long time for him to recover his fitness after that Achilles injury. After playing some reserve games last month, he finally resumed training with the first team this month. Then he took a (minor) knee injury during training. That is mostly healed, and he is now playing with the Reserves again. We hope we'll see John play in the Ajax-De Graafschap reserves match on Monday evening (04/23) at De Toekomst. If I get a chance to talk to him about his situation, I'll post an update here.

-- Anonymous, April 18, 2001

I think If you wait a little longer, John O' Brien will be back in the first team. I like his style of soccer, and although Ajax is playing better and better every week they need players like him, certainly because all the other players are so young.

Really nice there is an American fan-site of Ajax, I din't know but it's really cool! Especially the license plate of the car : "Hup Ajax" :)

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

I still think the future looks good for John. It was very sad for him to return injured from the Olympics, since he'd been doing well before he left to Sydney. But looking at the current situation, there are several ways for John to get into the first team:

1) LEFT MIDFIELDER: Richard Witschge as doing great over there at the beginning of the season, and Rafaël van der Vaart is doing the same thing now, but if Van der Vaart gets injured or something (which can easily happen to a 17 year-old kid who's suddenly playing 90 minutes on a professional level each week) O'Brien would probably be Adriaanse's first choice. He obviously refuses to put Witschge back into the team. His days are over.

2) LEFT OR RIGHT BACK: both back positions are Ajax's biggest problems these days. Central defense (Chivu and Pasanen) looks safe, but the back positions are shaky: Bergdølmo has lost his spot, Kanu is not quite ready for the job yet, Sier and De Cler are doing reasonably well but they just returned into the team because it was an emergency situation: there simply was no-one else. O'Brien has done well at both back positions and Adriaanse knows that. I'm curious on which position he played in Ajax-2. If he was lined up as a right or left back, that would definitely be a sign.

I expect John to be offered a serious chance shortly.

-- Anonymous, February 08, 2001

According to, John O'Brien is scheduled to make his return to competitive football today for Ajax II (the reserve team) against NAC Breda's reserve team. O'Brien has not played competitively for Ajax since the Amsterdam Tournament in the Fall of 2000, when he appeared against Arsenal and Lazio.

-- Anonymous, February 08, 2001

The "Yanks Abroad" update to the US Soccer mail-list reports again (see above) that O'Brien has started light training with Ajax.

-- Anonymous, January 11, 2001

A fan using the nickname 'Go_Rafael' started a thread about John on the Ajax Mania discussion forum, about John's injuries and the fact that his contract expires at the end of this season. 'Go_Rafael' asks whether Ajax should keep John O'Brien or not. Most fans think they should. A certain 'Herrie' writes: "Ajax has three good left midfielders: Rafael van der Vaart, Richard Witschge and John O'Brien. One of them will have to leave and I hope it'll be Witschge. He's not satisfied at Ajax, does not make any progression anymore and Ajax will get good money for him."

To which 'The Purple Cow' replies (this is the good part): "I received email a while ago from Bill O'Brien, John's dad, about John's contract. Everything's already finished. It's a done deal already."

-- Anonymous, January 11, 2001

Someone just posted to a US soccer mail-list that O'Brien's achilles is still not great, that he's only just begun to do light running and that it's not clear how it will behave when he puts some real stress on it. He's not expected to figure into the USA's plans for the final round of WQ qualifications. Anybody in Amsterdam have some 'local rumors' on O'Brien to share?

-- Anonymous, December 06, 2000

O'Brien is the cover boy on the latest edition of Soccer America magazine. Headline: "The Dutch Life of O'Brien". See

-- Anonymous, November 15, 2000

Read the translated interview with John O'Brien about his experiences at the Olympic Games in Sydney. Find it here:

-- Anonymous, October 25, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

John O'Brien turned 23 today. Congratulations! (funny thing: also ajacied Richard Knopper turned 23 today, what a coincidence!)

-- Anonymous, August 29, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

Will John O'Brien's inclusion in the Olympic team affect his status with his club?Choosing to play for one's country has hurt the amount of playing time seen for many other players across Europe.

-- Anonymous, August 18, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

John is not the only Ajacied to play at the Sydney Olympics, by the way: Joe Didulica en Jason Culina will play at home with their Olympic team, Australia.

-- Anonymous, August 18, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

Congrats America, congrats John O'Brien. Let's hope the lad will play regularly next season. I think he's a great player, fitting nicely in Co Adriaanse's system.

-- Anonymous, August 17, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

Thans to Ajax, and other international clubs for helping to raise the U.S national teams play! With the majority of the starting squad playing abroad, its nice to see the U.S. dominate who their supposed to dominate. No disrespect to Barbados, but they are one of the weaker sides in the region. With the U.S. expected to make it to WC '02, I laughed at articles in the U.S. media calling for panic. Understandibly, this game was a must win for the U.S. but Barbados can not match the player depth and quality on of the Americans. It is because players like O'brien, Reyna, Joe Max, Stewart(also in Holland), and others play overseas that the U.S. dominated 7-0. They were up 2-0 when the first red-card was given out. Also one can't look past the development of players like Mcbride and Jones in MLS. THANK GOD FOR AMERICAN PLAYERS BEING ABLE TO PLAY REGULARLY AT HOME AND ABROAD. FORWARD AJAX, FORWARD USA, FORWARD MLS, LOVE THE GAME!

-- Anonymous, August 17, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

O'BRIEN SCORES A GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!John O'brien scored his first goal for the USA Full National Team tonight in a World Cup Qualifier, as the USA destroy Barbados 7-0 in their first home game. O'Brein came in late in the 1st half to reaplce an injured Chris Armas. Barbados were down to 9 men by the 40th minute after 2 1st half red cards. The USA already had a 2-0 lead at that time. O'Brien scored in the 46th minute, with a beautiful pass to himself between 2 defenders. Just thought those who are not in the States might like to know.

-- Anonymous, August 16, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

It's hard to say how the US team will do in Sydney, a lot depends who they bring in as the 3 over age players. I only know of 1 so far, Jeff Agoos, a defender, and sometimes captain, w/the full national team who plays in the states with DC United. I think the team got a good draw, Czech Republic, Cameroon, and Kuwait, so they should win a game or two. For the Americans getting out of the first round would be a major accomplishment. As a Yank, I'm hoping for the best. I also heard O'Brien will be with the full team for a WC qualifier against Barbados on August 16th, whether he plays or not, who knows. We got our 2 top scorers back from injury, and this is must win. I'll let you know how he does if he plays.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

That's right: John will go to Sydney with the US Olympic Team shortly. Which is of course great for him - the Olympics are a dream for every athlete. But in a way it's a pity, too. John has played two excellent games at the Amsterdam Tournament. Since Tomas Galasek was injured, Richard Witschge played at central midfield, with John O'Brien playing on left midfield. He was calm, worked hard and he seemed to have a lot of self-esteem. He almost even scored aganst Arsenal. Co Adriaanse must have been impressed as well. I think John has never been this close to REALLY conquer a spot in the starting line-up. Co Adriaanse would probably not have 'changed the winning team'. Unfortunately, Adriaanse will just have to change it, because John will be gone for a while. Which means Galasek will take over his spot - and John will have to wait for his next chance when he comes back.

How do you think the US Team will do in Sydney?

-- Anonymous, August 07, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

Just an update on O'Brien. In June he played, and did well, with the full national team in the Nike US Cup, which the USA won by beating South Africa 4-0, Tying Ireland 1-1, and beating Mexico 3-0. So far in the first 2 Qualifiers, both away, a 1-1 draw w/Guatamela, and a 2- 1 loss to Costa Rica, he has not played. As far as I know he will he playing with the Olympic team in Sydney. That's all I know.

-- Anonymous, July 29, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

I watched John play last night on Fox Sports World in a U-23 Olympic qualification semi-final match against Guatemala. The US won 4-0. John scored on a beautiful volley from 25 yards in the 1st minute of the game! The US was dominant throughout the first 35 minutes, building a 3-0 lead and John played a very influential part in that dominance. After the first 35 minutes, the US coasted through most of the remaining 65 minutes, scoring again in the 90th minute. I'm almost positive John played all 90 minutes. The win guarantees the USA a spot in the Olympics in Sydney this September.

Along with Ben Olsen (and the 3 overage players allowed in the Olympic competition), John should be one of the most influential players in the side. It is extremely exciting for us American Ajax supporters to see John coming along so well now that he is healthy again. I felt he might have been able to contribute to the World Cup 98 team, but his injuries were too much to overcome at the time. I can't wait to see him as a regular contributor to the full national team when World Cup qualification starts this September!

-- Anonymous, May 03, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

Visit this website from me about John O'Brien

-- Anonymous, April 17, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

Not the first American for Ajax!

I received the following email recently:

Dear sir,
On your web site you say that John O'Brien is the first and only American soccer player ever to have signed a contract with Ajax. But did you know that O'Brien is not the only American and not the first American soccer player that has played for Ajax? In the years 1922 to 1930 a player named Edward Hamel played 125 matches for Ajax. He was a very popular player at that time. Although Edward (Eddy) Hamel had the American nationality, he was murdered by the nazi's in the gas chambers of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943.

Nobody in the Netherlands knew about it, until a few years ago an Englishman wrote Ajax a letter, saying he was in the concentration camp with Hamel when Hamel was sent to the gas chambers. I know about all this because I wrote a story about it, that was published last week in the Amsterdam based Dutch daily newspaper Het Parool.

Sincerely yours,
Arthur de Boer
12 March 2000

-- Anonymous, April 07, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

And so he did. John played the full ninety minutes against Tunisia (check out the news page). Or actually even more than ninety minutes: correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it far into injury time when the US equalized, after an O'Brien assist?

-- Anonymous, March 14, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

John is scheduled to play with the Men's team against Tunisia on Mar 12 in Birmingham, Alabama. It is on ESPN2 at 1:30 CT. After that, in the Olympic qualifications April 21 - 31 in Hershey, Penn.

-- Anonymous, March 04, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

In response to the question about John with the national team, he in fact did not play with team against Iran. He trained with the team but he was sent back to the U-23 National Team. This is mostly because he re-injured himself in practice. When interviewed, he was obviously frustrated with the fact that when he finally gets a chance to impress the national team staff he gets yet another injury. He played in the match following the US-Iran match - I believe it was the U23 US team against the full Aremian team. He played decent.

-- Anonymous, February 19, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

Maybe some of you American Ajax fans can keep us up to date about John O'Brien's performances in the USA National Team. I know he played in a friendly (well...) against Iran. Has he already played an official match for the US Team (some World Cup qualifier or so)? Keep us informed via this thread...

-- Anonymous, February 01, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

Can somebody tell me if there is a home page of John O'Brien somewhere? Other than this page from him .

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2000

Response to John O'Brien

John was recently interviewed by ESPN, apparently for US broadcast. There is a rumor that the PSV-AJAX game on 12/15 will be on regular ESPN. Just a rumor...

John's ankle injury is not too bad; he can walk on it but not run yet. He'll miss this weekend's game and maybe the UEFA Cup game in Majorca on 12/9, but hopes to be back for FC Twente on Dce 12.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 1999

Response to John O'Brien

I got the following information from a friend in Holland who knows John:
I attended the FC Utrecht game Nov 22... Ajax won 2 - 0. John played the entire game at right midfield and played well. In the UEFA Cup 3rd round on Nov 25 AJAX lost 0 - 1 to Majorca. John started at left defender and shifted to the #4 position, central defender near the end. AJAX did not play well and could not contain the Majorca counter-attacks.

On Sunday, Nov 28 AJAX beat AZ 2 - 1. John started at right defender but he was tackled again and it looks like it'll be a couple of weeks before he is back. The only positive is that it was his other foot this time.

In these 3 games he has played at 4 places, which doesn't help him get the feel for one position. But, it may indicate that the coach has more confidence in him than in the other players at those positions.

This season John recuperated very slowly from the toe injury he got Dec 13, 1998 at FCU. His toe was still only 80% in early Sept. He did get time in about 9 games at the end of Sept and in Oct and then was hurt again with an ankle sprain on Oct 29. A friendly game in Stuttgart on Nov 15 was his 1st time back. The FCU game Nov 22 was his 1st league game back. He has played in 13 games and started in 11 this year, including the UEFA games and the friendlies. If he stays healthy for a while, he may be able to get into the starting line up consistently.

It looks like he will come to the US Mens Camp in Claremont (California) in January and may get a chance to play in the Iran game Jan 16. He should also be in the Olympic qualifications in April.

-- Anonymous, December 01, 1999

Response to John O'Brien

Andy asks:
In the last write-up about Ajax beating Utrecht, it stated that John O'Brien had a fine job playing all 90 minutes against his former teammates. When did he play for Utrecht? I thought he came straight to the Ajax developemental squad. Or, is it possible that Ajax released him to Utrecht?

To which Menno replies:

John played for Utrecht during the last season ('98-'99). He was loaned out, which happens regularly to Ajax youth players. The step from the youth or second team to the frist team is a little bit too big, sometimes. It's valuable for a young player to get some experience in playing professional football in the KPN League before playing in Ajax-1. It happened to some pretty big players, like Ronald de Boer (who played for FC Twente). Sometimes, after a year, the player is sold to the club he was loaned out to. But in John O'Brien's case, of course, Ajax wanted him back.

-- Anonymous, November 30, 1999

Response to John O'Brien

There is a great picture of John by Frank Zilver on the FC Utrecht website, from the recent Ajax - Utrecht game:

Another picture on Ajax website, from the AZ match, showing O'Brien taking an ankle injury:

-- Anonymous, November 30, 1999

Response to John O'Brien

Here's an article (in Dutch) on how John's doing at Ajax:

-- Anonymous, November 29, 1999

Response to Johnny O'Brien

O'Brien has been invited to join the US National Team for a game in Morocco on November 17.

-- Anonymous, October 27, 1999

Response to Johnny O'Brien

The Ajax official website does have an 'English button', for all you guys who are to lazy to learn our beautyful language. This is what it also says about John O'Brien:

"John O'Brien signed a contract for three years starting July 1, 1998. The defender currently stars in the second team of Ajax. He started unlucky this year. Just when national coach Steve Sampson selected him for a friendly match against Belgium in Bruxelles in February, O'Brien got injured. John O'Brien is the first American ever to play for Ajax. He left Los Angeles in 1994 when he was sixteen years old. He presently studies International Management at the Amsterdam Economic High School (HES)."

(quote from the Official Ajax Website (

-- Anonymous, October 22, 1999

Response to Johnny O'Brien

O'Brien has now started his second KPN game and... scored a goal, the equalizer in an eventual 1-3 victory over NEC on Sunday October 17. (You can read a match report in English on Ajaxmania. Some fans in Holland have speculated that the right midfield position is O'Brien's to lose.

-- Anonymous, October 19, 1999

Response to Johnny O'Brien

O'Brien made his first team debut on 9/15/99. Visit the Ajax USA John O'Brien page for all the details. And thanks to our good friend Menno for this comment on the occasion:
Congratulations, mu fellow American Ajax supporters! On this very night (September 16th) JOHN O'BRIEN made his debut as a player of AJAX!! I hope it's the beginning of an impressive carreer as an 'Ajacied'. And I hope there'll be a LOT of Americans after him! I wish the USA-team the best of luck at the next World Cup Tournament (how about a Holland - USA clash?). With an Ajacied in the national team, it's time to welcome the States to the highest level of international soccer. The States have definitely got the possibility to be one of the strongest soccer-countries in the world. It's good to have you guys around. Good luck.
Thanks, Menno!

-- Anonymous, September 17, 1999

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