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Sciaretta's Scouting Report

Conor O'Brien Making His Mark in Denmark

The former Patriot League midfield star lines up in the center of the field for Odense and hopes to lead his new club on a title run. Can he do it? Brian Sciaretta talks to the rising talent.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
October 30, 2013
10:00 AM
After years of being dominated by clubs as FC Copenhagen, Brondby, and Nordsjaelland, the Danish Superliga is one of the most wide open leagues in Europe. Former Bucknell midfielder Conor O’Bren believes his Odense squad can win it.

It has been a wild ride on a personal level for the 25 year old who began the year as a free agent after declining to resign with Sonderjyske following his contract’s expiration. In January, he joined defending Superliga champions Nordsjaelland and achieved his childhood goal playing in a Champions League game. He featured in a loss to Zenit, playing against elite players such as Hulk and Andrea Arshavin. But after reading the writing on the wall with Nordsjaelland, he elected to move on as well and he signed with Odense.

Based in the town where Hans Christian Andersen was born, Odense have been a stable Danish club since the 1970’s, winning the title three times and finishing runner up six times—including a three-year run from 2009-2011. In 1995, Odense famously defeated Real Madrid in the UEFA Cup to advance to the quarterfinals.

This year, the team once again has ambitions of Europe, and O’Brien will play an integral role as one of the team’s starting central midfielders. “I’m really happy about being here. It’s going to be a good fit,” O’Brien told American Soccer Now. “Every move I’ve made in Denmark so far in Denmark has been moving up—from Blokhus to Sonderjyske to Nordsjaelland and now to Odense. I just didn’t see any future at Nordsjaelland with where the club is deciding to go. I think it was quite different now than when I signed there in January.”

“Then Odense decided to come calling and I really enjoy the way they’ve been playing,” he continued. “We have a good team now. I’m really confident. Odense made some really good signings during the window. We’re deep and strong. Looking back at my time at Nordsjaelland, it wasn’t what I hoped for and what everybody expected. I don’t think anything affected my confidence. Odense is a really big Danish club and they wouldn’t come knocking if they didn’t think I was talented enough to play for them.”

Since then O’Brien has gradually cemented his status as key player for Odense. His best outing came last week in a 5-1 rout over his former club Sonderjyske. In that game he picked up an assist and was named to the Superliga team of the week by two major Danish media outlets.

Odense will need O’Brien to perform well regularly since the Superliga table is extremely tight. After 13 games, the club is sitting in fourth place on 18 points and trail second place Aalborg by just three points.

Head coach Troels Bech has noted the team’s improvement every week and believes that group will continue to grow since several starting players only arrived during the summer window after the season began. He recently singled out Icelandic international Ari Skulason, Norwegian international Mustafa Abdellaoue, Guinean international Mohamed Diarra, and O’Brien for the team’s growth in September and October.

“There has been much change in the squad the last 18 months,” Bech said in a press conference last week. “We are getting better and better every week that passes. And since the last game, we had a few more weeks to train and learn to know each other.”

O’Brien agrees with Bech and believes that the team with the deepest talent will prevail in the end.

“The culture here is about winning,” O’Brien said bluntly. “We have the depth and we have the talent. Now it is about putting it together and getting the results.”

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