Charleston Battery have most recently won their 4th USL title and playing a major part in their success has been Scottish Midfielder Nicki Paterson. The Scot started his career in the youth setup at Motherwell and then signed professionally for Hamilton Academical. But now the midfielder is keen to continue his success in North America by making the step up to the MLS. Exclusively for Soccer Night Exclusive Mr Paterson stopped by for a chat about his USL season and how New York could become his new home.

For all the readers who are unfamiliar with you. How would you describe your playing style as well as your strengths ?

I see myself as a two way central midfielder and someone who defensively likes to work extremely hard to win the ball back quickly. I like to organise and I don’t mind putting a tackle in. However offensively I like to be involved as much as possible, whether it’ll be dropping to get the ball or getting forward and linking up with the strikers. I have played both offensive and defensive roles in my career so I am comfortable with both. My role model has always been Steven Gerrard. The way he plays it unbelievable and I have always tried to somewhat replicate this.

My main strengths are passing, tackling, shooting from distance running beyond the strikers and set pieces.

What age did you get into soccer and how did you get into the sport ?

I started playing competitively at around five years old, from a young age my father got me involved. From that point onwards I have loved playing soccer.

Have you always wanted to become a professional soccer player ?

Yes! I remember the USA 94 World Cup and to become a professional soccer player ever since then.

During your growing up stages as a soccer player who would you say has been your biggest inspiration ?

My Dad personally taught me everything I know and I use to enjoy watching Zinedine Zidane and Steven Gerrard growing up.

How did it feel for the whole of the Charleston Battery organisation to win it’s 4th USL Championship ?

Amazing feeling. It was my first championship in the USA, we had a mixed bag of veterans and rookies so it really meant a lot to each and every one of us. We worked so hard throughout the entire season, which meant we earned all the luck breaks we had. And in the end winning at home in front of our own fans was special.

What would you say was the main benefactor to winning the title ?

We had a great keeper in Andrew Dykstra, our defence was extremely solid. Colin Falvey and John are very experienced professionals. And in attack we had four or five weapons who could win us games.

How would you describe your overall performance in the 2012 USL season ?

I had my best season yet as a professional. I managed to score 12 goals even though I could of scored a few more but that took me to 20 goals in two seasons as a midfielder. Overall I was just really relaxed and happy playing in Charleston. I know what’s expected of me and felt free to go and enjoy playing. Which showed during the games.

What is the standard of soccer like in the USL ?

The standard of the USL is very good and competitive. A lot of the guys in the league have MLS experience and many are also trying to get to that level.

How is the league set up in terms of play offs, and how the championship is won ?

The top six teams qualify for the end of season play offs. The top two receive a first round bye as well as a home tie in the semi-finals, and the top seed overall hosts the final.

Is there any well-known soccer players currently plying their trade in the USL ?

Tam McManus formerly of Hibernian currently plays at Rochester Rhinos. There is also a vast amount of guys who have MLS experience. Mark Briggs of Wilmington Hammerheads has played in the English Premiership. Also John Rooney the brother of Wayne and James O’Connor who played in England for ten years plays over in the USL for Orlando City.

Who currently in the MLS have your played alongside in the USL ?

I have played with Yordany Alvarez and Luis Gil who are a part of Real Salt Lake. Lamar Neagle, Danny Cruz and Nick DeLeon are players I have played alongside in my college days.

You started at Motherwell’s youth academy. What was the youth system like their at Motherwell ?

Amazing. As a 14year old watching and learning from great professionals. Guys such as James McFadden are a year older than me and have made it to professional soccer.

Your first senior contract was at Hamilton Academical. What would you say was your stand out moments at Hamilton ?

My debut at 17, which we won and starting in the Scottish Cup as well as getting promoted.

In 2005 you moved to the University Of Las Vegas. What was the main factor for you making the move ?

Hamilton went part time due to the funding being dropped from the Scottish game. I have always wanted a degree to fall back on and it just seemed the right move.

What is your degree in ?

PE Teaching

How quick did it take you to settle into life across the pond ?

No time at all I had a Scottish and English teammate which helped me, but the fun part about being their made it much easier for me.

Who were those teammates that helped you settle in ?

Martin Kenny, formerly of Ross County and Daniel Bryan who is from London.

What do you miss about Scotland ?

As always the people in Scotland I miss. The longer I’m away the more I miss my family and things like weddings/births etc. But my family is extremely supportive and my girlfriend now lives with me in the States which helps. She’s also Scottish so that’s been a huge factor in me being so relaxed.

Would you ever consider a move back to Scotland ?

I just got back two days ago from training with New York Red Bulls. It looks like I have interest from 4-5 MLS clubs so I’d like to do that next season. But while I’m back I’ am open to looking at all options. But it would have to take a good deal for me to come back.

Who are the MLS clubs who have shown an interest in you ?

I just spent last month with New York Red Bulls and they really liked me, so that’s looking like a good fit. But Sporting KC, Seattle Sounders and a few others are also interested.

What are you looking to achieve in 2013 ?

I would like to be playing in the MLS against the top players in the country and contributing.

What are you going to be doing during your off season ?

For the next few months I am hoping to relax and spend some quality time with my friends and family. Then get myself in the best possible shape for the start of the 2013 MLS season.

Back in the early part of the year Charleston Battery played New York Red Bulls in the US Open Cup. Despite losing 3-0 what was it like to play against the likes of Kenny Cooper, Heath Pearce and Connor Lade ?

It was a great experience at the time. Although we lost it showed us we could compete with the best. Having been picked up for a month by the red bulls the day after the final and spending 3/4 weeks with them I can tell you first-hand how goo these guys are and the re bulls as an organization. Extremely well run organization. Very good coaching staff and a great roster. Obviously Henry, Cahill stand out as world class but the roster Is so deep. From top to bottom the standard is amazing and it was a great experience being involved up there! I feel it went well and the coaching staff and tech director have confirmed this along with some senior players so all things going well I will go into preseason with NY.

What did you learn during your time in that game ?

I learned you need to treat it like any other game and focus on your own game. Not to get over excited. Focus on what you can control.

Mike Anhaeuser is the man in the hot-seat at Charleston Battery. What is his playing philosophy as well as his attributes as a person ?

Mike likes to be strong defensively first and foremost as this leads into the attack. He likes us to attack at every opportunity but know when to keep possession. He is an extremely good motivator in the locker room before games.

Where would you like to see your career in five years time ?

I’d like to still be in the MLS or maybe back in the uk, but still playing at the highest level possible.

What advice would you give to any budding youngsters who are looking to follow in your footsteps ?

Practice every day! Work on your weaknesses but also your strengths. Have a good attitude as without it you won’t go far. Listen to your coaches and believe in yourself.

Best Game you’ve Played In

Championship game this year was special. Beating Rochester on penalties in the semi was also right up there.

Best Goal Scored

Volley from 30 yards this season from a corner against Orlando city to tie the game.

Best Player Played With

Thierry Henry

Best Player Played Against

Thierry Henry

Favourite Stadium

Celtic Park

Team Supported Growing Up

Celtic

Favourite Food

Chipotle

Favourite Drink

Milk

Favourite Holiday Destination

Las Vegas

Favourite Film

Brave Heart

Favourite Music

Everything

First Car

Renault Clio

What Would You Do If You Won $1Million

Live off the interest! But look after my family and go on a very big shopping spree.

Teammates Charleston Battery

Loudest

Colin Falvey but not on the field!

Quietest

John Wilson

Most Intelligent

Toni Donatelli

Least Intelligent

Ryan Richter

Most Skilful

J.C Mack

Best Trainer

Zach Prince

Worse Trainer

Kyle Hoffer

Best Friend

Colin Falvey

Biggest Joker

Colin Falvey/Me

Worse Taste In Music

J.C Mack

Worse Dress Sense

Colin Falvey (definitely)

I would like to personally thank Nicki Paterson for his time and efforts during the interview process.

By Anthony Bedworth

@usbritain05

@maplesoccer123

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