Speaking for the first time since being acquired by D.C. United earlier today, veteran defender Robbie Russell is excited to be the newest member of Ben Olsen’s squad. Currently in Washington with his wife Tiana, we found out that Russell has several ties to the Metropolitan Area.
See what he has to say about his new home, his best playing attributes, living in Sri Lanka and attending elementary school in Arlington. Robbie is also looking for neighborhood and food advice from the fans, so don’t forget to leave a comment and help him out.
Welcome to D.C. United, Robbie. What are your thoughts on moving to Washington and joining the Black-and-Red?
I’m really excited. I think it’s a trade that I’ve been trying to get into the works for the last couple of years, ever since my wife moved out here [to D.C.]. I’ve got family out here, I’ve got friends out here, and my wife is here. Really, there are no negatives to this move and I can’t wait to start with the team.
Tell us a bit more about your family situation and your ties to this area.
My wife has been in D.C. for about a year. She worked here originally, before coming to Europe with me. When we came back she tried to get a job in Salt Lake but it didn’t work out, so her former job here [in Washington] decided to take her back, and that was about a year ago. We kind of knew it was coming, so that’s why we wanted to get the move going a little earlier than that, but it didn’t pan out at the time. Luckily enough, things worked out well for everybody. This is a huge opportunity for me – joining a great, prestigious club like D.C. United, as well as bringing my family together.
For fans that are unfamiliar with your background, what do you bring to the table as a player?
I would say that my strongest attribute is essentially my experience. I played in Europe for a lot of years, both in Denmark and Norway. I like to say I bring a calming influence. I know that D.C. has a really good team and a lot of pieces that have been put together to make-up a great team, and I hope I can be one of those pieces that makes this team great.What are your current impressions of United’s roster and your future teammates?
With the offseason going the way it is, I know that there are some changes that have been made and some that haven’t. I try to reserve judgment until I get to play and see everybody, because it’s one thing to look at things from the outside and it’s another thing to actually be a part of it. I can’t wait to get working, to get cracking with the guys. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and seeing what kind of people I’m working with.
You’re one of the most well-traveled players in MLS after living on four continents. You were born in Ghana, played in Europe and have spent a great deal of time in North America. Where else have you lived?
Between the ages of 10 and 14 I lived in Sri Lanka, which is south of India. I guess that would cover my Asian living experience. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid, it was kind of not really in my control. But then I got the bug and started moving around a lot the minute I finished college. I traveled to a lot of different places, but there’s always somebody out there who’s been to more [countries]. I just look forward to every opportunity to get to learn about a new place, a new area, so I’m really excited to be living in D.C.
We hear this isn’t your first experience living in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Tell us about that.
I actually lived here when I was in elementary school. I lived in Arlington; it’s kind of a weird circle coming back around like this. I’m excited to come back to the area. I can’t remember the name of the school, but I do remember the name of my soccer team. It was called the Arlington Optimists or something like that. I have to reach out to my mom and ask her what the name of the school was, because it was such a long time ago.
What’s your next move now that the trade is final? Are you thinking about where you’d like to live, or is that an easier process with your wife already here in Washington?
My wife has an apartment here that’s pretty nice, but I think we would be looking to getting some place a little bigger, and probably closer to the stadium. I guess the first move is to look for that. One of the things that is good about looking for a new place to live is that you can think about different neighborhoods and scenarios in the city. Right now, I’m spending time getting to know D.C. and figuring out my way around and what places to go. If anybody has some suggestions, I’m open to them. I want to learn as much about the area as possible. I am also a big-time foodie, so if you know any good restaurants let me know!