- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

If it weren't for his brother's wedding two years ago, D.C. United defender Brandon Prideaux might be readying himself for this spring's World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
For Prideaux, family comes before country. Unfortunately, U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena doesn't see it that way.
It was October 2000. Prideaux's former club, the Kansas City Wizards, won the fifth Major League Soccer Cup 1-0 over the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium. To reward their championship, Arena contacted six Wizards to train in the national team pool. But Prideaux left camp early to see his brother tie the knot and hasn't been invited back.
"It was kind of bad timing for me. It was my brother's wedding, and I chose to go," Prideaux said. "That's the way it goes. There are a lot of good players out there, and it's tough to get in. If I can help D.C. United win games, then individual accolades may come after that."
Of United's nine newcomers this season, Prideaux has been the most impressive. The 25-year-old Prideaux has served as a stablizing force on United's back line. In United's season opener at the Los Angeles Galaxy, Prideaux shut down Cobi Jones, the Galaxy's dangerous right-flank midfielder. Jones was so frustrated by Prideaux's defense he had to switch sides and changed his course of attack to the left just to get away from the sure-tackling Prideaux.
Prideaux says he takes pride in shutting down high-powered strikers. Tonight, when United (1-1-0) plays the Colorado Rapids (1-0-1) at Invesco Field, Prideaux's job is to mark Rapids forward John Spencer, who scored 14 goals last season.
"[Spencer] just looks to shoot," Prideaux said. "He's not the biggest guy [5-foot-7 and 160 pounds] in the world, but he's dangerous."
United coach Ray Hudson calls Prideaux the "most underrated" defender in the country. Hudson also said it's just a matter of time before Arena will be forced to take a long look at his talented player.
Prideaux was acquired in January from the Wizards for midfielder Stephen Armstrong. Right now, it's looking like one of the better trades the club has made. Wizards coach Bob Ganzler changed systems and went to a four-man back, making Prideaux expendable.
"He's certainly at the top of his game," Hudson said of Prideaux. "He's feeling much more capable as a top-class defender. He's fast, he's tenacious and he reads the game smartly. I'll mark him up against anybody."
Prideaux's value is that he can play all across the back. He can play with either foot, on the right or on the left, and last Saturday against the Fire showed he can play centrally as well.
Hudson started Prideaux alongside national teamer Eddie Pope. Prideaux, who is from the state of Washington, and Pope safely cleared almost every ball that ventured into the middle. At 5-10, Prideaux displayed expert ability to play in the air. The Fire's highly acclaimed strike tandem of Josh Wolff and Ante Razov weren't a factor with Prideaux patrolling the middle of the box.
Prideaux's ultimate goal is the national team. It's probably too late for him to get called into next month's World Cup, so United's versatile defender is looking ahead to 2006 in Germany.
"It's four years from now," Prideaux said. "That's obviously one of my goals and for most players in general to play for their national team."
Notes United will broadcast tonight's game and Saturday's match at the Dallas Burn on the Internet at www.dcunited.com. Sean Wheelock will handle play-by-play duties. Three additional broadcasts are July 20 at the Fire, July 24 at the Columbus Crew and July 31 at the Fire. … United midfielder Marco Etcheverry was named MLS player of the week for his performance against the Fire. Etcheverry scored a goal on a free kick his first goal since June, 17, 2000 in the 39th minute to lead United over the Fire. … Tonight's United game is the first game of a doubleheader, with the United States taking on Mexico both World Cup qualifiers in a friendly.

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