What Ever Happened To: Brian Maisonneuve
With 15 seasons in the books, MLSsoccer.com looks back at the stars, personalities and cult heroes who made Major League Soccer what it is today. We kick off our "What Ever Happened To..." series with career Columbus Crew and former US national team midfielder Brian Maisonneuve.
Where He Was Then
Brian Maisonneuve was a two-way central midfielder for the Columbus Crew from 1996 until his retirement after the 2004 season. He made 189 regular-season and playoff appearances (175 starts) with 23 goals and 30 assists despite missing the 2000 season due to an injury.
The Indiana University alum was a three-time MLS All-Star (1998, ’99 and 2002), led the US with two goals at the 1996 Olympics and appeared in all three 1998 World Cup matches among his 13 caps.
Where He Is Now
Brian Maisonneuve considers himself lucky.
He’s lucky to have spent his entire pro career with one team, including the first seven with Indiana University teammates Mike Clark and Todd Yeagley.
He feels fortunate that he recovered from a possible career-ending ankle injury in 2000 to play four more years with the Columbus Crew and then move into an assistant coaching position with the US U-17 team.
After four years there, he served as an assistant at the University of Louisville before accepting the same title with his alma mater in 2010.
Luckily, the Hoosiers’ new head coach was an old friend: Yeagley.
“It’s funny,” Maisonneuve told MLSsoccer.com in a phone conversation recently from his Bloomington office. “I know exactly where he’s going with stuff and he knows where I’m going with stuff because we’ve been around each other for so many years. There’s not too many surprises, which is good.”
A native of Michigan, Maisonneuve won the Hermann Trophy as the top collegian his senior year when he helped the Hoosiers to the 1994 College Cup final before losing 2-1 to Virginia.
Being not quite good enough was a pattern repeated with the Crew. On four occasions the club was one win away from reaching the MLS Cup but failed to advance.
“I’d love to be wearing two or three MLS Cup rings,” he said. “We were so close so many years. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Yet he has no regrets despite being hampered by injuries throughout his career. He had surgery on his right ankle in January 2000 but a series of infections followed and he underwent four more operations over the next seven months to reconstruct the ankle.
Maisonneuve was told he might not play again but he returned to set career highs in goals (eight) and points (21) in 2001. The years of playing took their toll, though.
“I can’t do what I used to – like cutting," he said. "But anytime I’m on the treadmill or doing straight ahead running, there’s not a workout that I’m not thankful that I’m running because there for a while I wasn’t sure what was going to happen."
He retired at age 31 in 2004 after his role with the Crew diminished.
“I always tell myself I was extremely fortunate to do what I was able to do as a player and where I ended up in Columbus,” Maisonneuve said. “It’s a wonderful club and a great city.”
Just as he followed Louisville’s run to the College Cup title match last month when the Cardinals lost to Akron, he felt a part of the Crew’s 2008 MLS Cup victory.
“With the success the club is having now anybody who ever played in Columbus has a lot of pride in that,” he said.
Maisonneuve also watched with pride as three of his IU players – Will Bruin, Rich Balchan and Andy Adlard – were all drafted by MLS clubs this past month.
Now 37, Maisonneuve and his wife, Diania, have 7-year-old son, Jacob, and daughter Emma turned three in December. Being with his family puts athletics in the proper priority behind them but he already had gained insight when he was unable to play in 2000.
“In the big picture it might have been the best thing to ever happen to me,” he said. “It made me really appreciate things I hadn’t before. It gave me a different perspective on life and what’s important and how lucky I was.”
What They Said
“He was a teammate you could trust because he was good on both sides of the ball. Injuries stopped him from being even better.”
– Columbus coach Robert Warzycha on playing alongside Maisonneuve with the Crew.
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