Brian Brown knows wearing No. 99 on his soccer jersey makes him all the more visible.
New Mexico United’s Jamaican-born striker doesn’t mind in the least.
Soccer amounts to a family business for the 28-year-old Brown, who has played in Europe, the United States and represented his home country during his career. The sport he loves has allowed Brown to see the world and enjoy some considerable highs, including a goal scored for the Jamaican national team against Antigua and Barbuda in 2019.
There also have been down times, particularly during the pandemic, when Brown’s soccer career effectively separated him from friends and family, including his 7-year-old daughter Kataleya.
But the upbeat Brown is delighted to be back on the pitch in his first season with New Mexico. Having adjusted to the environment, he’s just beginning to make his presence felt. Brown has registered two goals, an assist and 10 shots in his first 11 appearances with New Mexico.
What is the story behind your No. 99 jersey?
(Smiles) I was always a No. 9 guy. that was my number. But when I went to Reno in 2017 (Jamaican striker) Dane Kelly was the king and the leading scorer, so No. 9 was his. I didn’t know what number to choose and the equipment guy said, ‘What about 99?’ I said OK and it kind of went on from there. Now I like it because it’s different. You kind of have to be a different player, a special player if you’re going to wear 99.
How did you get started as a soccer player?
Soccer’s in my blood. My dad was a soccer player. Growing up I was always at my dad’s games and my brothers played, too, so I guess you could say I had no choice. But I started playing when I was 7 and I’ve been doing it all my life. I love it.
What would you say is your highlight so far?
Playing for the Jamaica national team, for sure. Playing for Jamaica against the U.S. was definitely exciting for me.
You spent years playing in the United States with MLS and USL teams. In 2019 and ’20 you played in Albania. What was that like?
Everything was different. The culture was different, the language barrier made it different soccer-wise, but overall it was a good experience.
Being there during the pandemic was a bummer, though. We started our (2020) season and then COVID hit and everything was shut down. I was stuck over there during the pandemic, so I was all by myself. We were doing online workouts and I didn’t see my teammates. I didn’t get to see my family for like five, six months, so it was tough.
This is your first year playing and living in New Mexico. What are your early impressions?
Coming here from overseas, I’m really starting to appreciate New Mexico. Being able to see the area, it’s very different from what I’m used to but I like the atmosphere. I’ve only been here for a few months so I haven’t been able to do too much so far. But I’m looking forward to it, having a good time here and I love the fans.
You’ve talked about how difficult it was adjusting to the altitude here. Now that you’ve acclimated, what can fans expect to see?
They can expect me to be all over the pitch, having my teammates’ backs and making things happen. They can expect more from me. My job is to score goals, whether it’s an easy tap-in or a fantastic goal, I’m always looking for ways to put the ball in the net.
Brian Brown at a glance
Favorite sports team: Chelsea or Barcelona. I like them both.
Favorite athlete: Lionel Messi
Non-sports hobby: “Um, it’s not really non-sports. On my days off I like to watch basketball. I’m a huge basketball fan, especially LeBron James. LeBron, LeBron, LeBron.”
Favorite TV show: “I like watching standup. I’m a big fan of Kevin Hart.”
Favorite food: “Chipotle. They’ve got rice, chicken and beans, all the things I like.”
Anything you’re scared of? “A lot of things, especially snakes.”
Red or Green Chile? Red.