Man of the Match with The Standard

Join us for another season of Man of the Match with the Standard where we treat the Man of the Match to an afternoon outing at The Standard for some coffee and questions.

Game 11 vs Brevard SC  7/6/2024

Man of the Match: Alvaro Carrera

Coffee and questions with Alvaro Carrera  The Standard CLCL

After scoring two goals and assisting two more in our last contest, Alvaro Carrera is Man of the Match and the subject of our latest Coffee & Conversation segment. Alvaro is enjoying an iced vanilla latte from The Standard CLCL.
Part of the strategy for Saturday’s match was to have you come in off the bench, which is unusual. What was your mindset when you entered the game?
We came in with a winner’s mentality. We knew we had to score a lot of goals to get the top spot and we just came in trying to score and create chances, and we’re always going to come in with a winning mentality.
With the Southeast Division title likely to come down to goal differential, how focused was the team on scoring a lot on Saturday?
It felt good to just go out and score a lot of goals to put a lot of pressure on the team behind us in the standings. We want to win the championship and all we need now is a 1-0 win.
What do you feel like clicked for this team, going from a couple of low-scoring games early to averaging almost four goals per game in the last nine?
Coming in, the first few games came quickly and there was a lot to get used to with a new team, new players and all of that, but we started noticing the pickup in pace and we started winning and kept going with that mentality. Now, we just have to win the next game and we have the chemistry and we’re comfortable now to do that.
You and Matheus Ferreira each assisted on a goal for the other. You guys have linked up a lot in the last two seasons. How special is the connection the two of you have on the field?
We have a good connection. He’s a smart player, a fast player, a very technical player. He knows my strengths and we play to each other’s strengths. Since last year, we’ve just connected well on and off the pitch.
After last year’s playoff run, how excited are you for the possibility of playing in the postseason with this group?
I’m very excited to keep playing with this team. Last year was very comparable, the championship mentality of this group and that group. This year, though, we’re moving forward, trying to forget about last year, trying to make our own history and bring the trophy home.

Game 10 vs Nona FC  7/3/2024

Man of the Match: Niclas Wittur

Coffee and questions with Niclas Wittur  The Standard CLCL

More Coffee & Conversation, this time with Niclas Wittur again, who was Man of the Match in our 10th game of the season. Niclas is sipping an iced chai (Mathias copied HIS order 😉) from @The Standard CLCL.
Obviously, the loss against Nona was tough for the team, but, having gone through losses with this team before, how do you feel like that defeat can make the team better going forward?
I think the team is going to respond very well. A lot of coaches I’ve had have said, ‘You have to experience the feeling of losing to appreciate winning.” I feel like it also reminds us that we’re beatable and we have to give 100% in every game. Otherwise, you drop points. Of course it hurts, to concede in that minute, the way we got scored on, but I think we’ll respond very well because we need to win out but, if we perform the way I know the team can perform, I don’t have any doubt we’re going to win those games. For us, it’s about not really feeling that pressure too much because, if everyone does their job, we’ll be fine. It’s kind of like the Florida Elite game. We were down and we never panicked and we turned the game around. I don’t see us panicking because there’s no reason to. Chances will come, goals will come, and the title will be ours again.
Do you think it’s good for the team that there are now higher stakes to the final two games of the season because of that loss?
It’s good preparation for playoffs because you can’t afford mistakes, you can’t afford to be sloppy. If we’d been division champions after the Nona game, we would have had two games that didn’t really matter and I think that would not have been beneficial for us. I feel like those games are now good preparation for the playoffs. We know what’s at stake and our team thrives through those kinds of challenges. If we have a reason to play, if we need the win, we’re all focused, which is good. No one wants to be out quickly. Everyone wants to win, everyone wants to go far. Now, the pressure of playoffs, we have that in the regular season and I think it’s only going to help us.
How important is it for this team to finish the season on a home stand?
Obviously, it’s an advantage because we know the field. We’ve won every home game so far this year, so that’s something we can be proud of. On our home pitch, we haven’t dropped points this year, and I don’t see any reason why that would change.
Over the three years that you’ve been here, you’ve been through the beats of the season and seen how teams evolve. How would you compare the process of this year’s team to previous seasons?
I feel like the team figured out how to be a unit more quickly than in years before. The bond that we had on last year’s team and the team before that was great, but I feel like this year it happened quicker.

Game 9 vs Florida Elite  6/30/2024

Man of the Match: Mathias Tieppo

Coffee and questions with Mathias Tieppo  The Standard CLCL

It’s time for Coffee & Conversation with Mathias Tieppo, who earned Man of the Match honors for his outstanding performance in our win over Florida Elite. Mathias is enjoying an iced chai from The Standard CLCL.
Your penalty kick save was the turning point of the match against Florida Elite. What’s your strategy when facing a penalty?
Any time I have to save a PK, the only thing that goes through my mind is, “If I guess the side, I’m going to save it.” Sometimes, you get a word to where he’s going to shoot and, when you go to get the ball, you have to go 100%. Once I pick which side I think he’s going to shoot on, I go 100%. I try to go right before he hits the ball so he can’t change the side.
That match was the first time since you’ve been at Brave SC that the team has had to play from behind. What do you feel like you learned about yourselves in that game?
That was a hard lesson. Before that, I didn’t know how everybody would react to starting a game losing, so it’s good to know that the guys have the mentality and the strength to keep going. It’s good to know that we have this in us.
How important do you think it was for the team to face that kind of test?
It’s important because, if this had happened for the first time in the playoffs, we’d have no idea how to react. Now that we’ve had this experience, we know it happened before — we got scored on and we came back, so we can do it. It was a lesson to us that we can do it.
We’re now more than a month removed from the first game of the season against that same Florida Elite team. How have you seen the team evolve over that stretch?
I think we played several more games together and clicked a little better. You start to understand how your teammates play, what difficulties they have, where you need to help them. We also learned from those ties in the beginning that it’s just about getting more experience as a team, which is why I think we improved a lot in recent weeks.
What’s the focus of the team going into Friday night’s game against Inter Gainesville with the division title on the line?
I feel like we can not assume anything is going to be an easy game. They have nothing to lose, they’re just here to ruin the party. They’re going to play to not let us be champions. We have to go 100% from the start and that’s the lesson we have to take from the two games with Nona and Florida Elite. We have to put in the work. We’re a good team, we’re going to win, but we need to work for it.

Game 8 vs Brooke House  6/26/2024

Man of the Match: Henrique Gallina

Coffee and questions with Henrique Gallina  The Standard CLCL

It’s time for more Coffee & Conversation with our latest Man of the Match, Henrique Gallina! Henrique is sipping a cappuccino from The Standard CLCL.
How did you come to play at Brave SC this summer?
I’d heard of The Villages SC before it was Brave. I had a couple teammates when I was playing for the University of South Florida that had played here and they said fantastic things about it. Before now, I don’t think I had the opportunity to try and play here because, freshman year, I decided to go home for the summer, sophomore year, COVID happened, junior year I was dealing with an injury. Then I transferred to the University of Pittsburgh and was out of Florida and, last year, I was playing for Chicago Fire. I got in contact with Coach Anderson, we hopped on a phone call, I was interested in the program and what he was building here and what the club wants to accomplish during the season and I said, ‘If you give me a chance, I want to be a part of this. I want to join you guys and help in any way I can.
One of the ways you’ve had to help is moving from your natural position as a holding midfielder to center back. How did you take that move and what do you think has led to your success there?
Whatever the team needs, I’m there for. If Anderson comes to me tomorrow and says, ‘I need you to play right back,’ let’s do it. I’ll give you the best I can at right back, left back, or any other position. I’m more naturally a center midfielder and that’s where I’ve played the last couple years and that’s where I felt more comfortable playing, but, after seven games as a center back, I’m getting more comfortable as a center back. I’m just cooperating with the other players in the group. We’ve got fantastic players at every other position, so, if center back is where I’m going to contribute most to the group, that’s where I’m going to be. I think I’ve done well because I’ve played there before, so I know how to play the position. I understand the position and the risk and reward of certain plays when you’re a center back and definitely the responsibility of playing on the back line when the only one behind you is the keeper.
You said after a draw in the first game of the season that it was too early to judge the talent of the team based on one result. Since then, the team is 7-0-1, but how early did you begin to realize this group’s potential?
I would say from Day 1. I knew some of the guys coming in. For example, I played with Leo in college, so I knew his potential and I knew getting to play with him again we could accomplish great things together. Knowing where some of the guys were coming from with different backgrounds or different colleges, different countries even, I just felt from the start a good chemistry. I knew something good would come out of spending the whole summer together. It’s different from teams where players drive in every day. 70% of the group lives in the house and is together 24/7, so you end up building a good chemistry on and off the field. Since Game 1, it’s just been going up. Everything — off the field, on the field, the team chemistry, the connection of the players, and the results are showing on the field.
One of the things that has stood out from this year’s team is the depth. How critical do you think the depth of this roster is?
One thing that is key for this team, and it’s shown, is just the consistency. You can rely on any of the players that step on the pitch. We’ve had different subs, different lineups, different rosters, players coming and going, but I think the whole group is on the same page. Whenever a player gets an opportunity to step on the pitch, he knows what the job is, what he needs to accomplish, and he knows what to do to get the job done.
How does that depth and the competition for playing time affect the level in training?
It’s good. We push each other, keep each other accountable, we push each other, we support each other. We ask for more and we’re never satisfied, and I think that’s one of the great things about this team. We’re never satisfied with one goal or two goals. We go for three, we go for four, we go for five, we go for a clean sheet. We had a situation last week where we mixed teams in training. Yesterday, I had Oscar as my striker, another day I have Agustin or I have someone else stepping in up top. It doesn’t matter, I’m asking for the same things. ‘I need you to press, I need you to win, I need you to force a mistake.’ Anderson was the one to point it out — there’s no first team or second team, we’re one collective group. If one guy is on the bench yelling to me, I’m going to listen. Just because you’re sitting on the bench doesn’t mean I’m not going to listen to what you have to say and I think that’s where this group is in agreement — everyone matters and everyone makes an important contribution to the group, whether or not you’re on the field, and that’s what’s helped us become a successful team so far.
You took a step back from a professional team to a pre-professional setting. What was the calculus behind that decision and how hard was it to make?
Once you make it to the pro level, you don’t want to downgrade. You don’t want to come back, you want to move forward, but I learned early in my life that some setbacks are for the best. So far, it has been for the best, I would say. I did have a great time in Chicago, a good season. I was able to play in a bunch of games, especially for a foreign player on an MLS roster. Coming back here, though, is reminding me how good of a game this is and why I play it and it’s just pushing me to work harder and to accomplish what I need to to step into the pro level again. I had this talk with Nico, about wanting to play pro after this and deciding to step down to League Two and not playing somewhere else, even if it was overseas, and we came to an agreement that this is a good spot. It’s a good team, a good opportunity. Even though we’re not paid, it’s a good opportunity to get what we need to develop our game and get back to the pro level.

Game 7 vs Inter Gainesville KF 6/19/2024

Man of the Match: Agustin Belgiorno

Coffee and questions with Agustin Belgiorno  The Standard CLCL

Our latest man of the match is Agustin Belgiorno! Agustin sipping on an iced vanilla latte from The Standard CLCL.

How did you find yourself at Brave SC? In January, I met Agustin Iusem and he used to play at Marshall with Gustavo Vega. I wanted to stay here for the summer playing because I felt it would be helpful to prepare for the college season starting in August, so I started talking to Agustin and he was planning to stay and I had a couple of options in Texas and New Jersey and then here in Florida. He told me he knew Coach Vega from Marshall and he was an assistant coach at Brave and I said, “It would be nice if I can go with you.” He sent my video, which kind of started the process, then put me in contact with Coach Anderson and we had two or three calls where he explained what he expects from me and the club and how we want to play. I spoke to other coaches and they said this was the one I wanted to be at. I saw the history of the club, how successful it was the last few years and I talked to my coaches and they said, “If you have a chance to go to The Villages and get minutes there, it’s going to be amazing. You’re going to be flying when you come back and that’s what we want from you.” That worked out and I’m very happy to be here. The guys in the house are amazing and, so far, I think we’re doing great and let’s hope it keeps up like that.

After all that research, how has being part of Brave SC lived up to your expectations? It’s better than what I expected. When they told me they were almost national champions last season, going to the semifinals, having a super competitive team, I thought it would be hard to get into the 11, maybe, but the confidence you get when you get into a rhythm is great. You always want to play. I’m always going to try to compete and play as much as possible, and, of course, inside the house, we’re all friends and we all compete. It’s nice when you have healthy inside competition because that’s how you get better because you try harder and harder and harder because you want to play. It’s also nice to create relationships all around the world and meeting 30 new people from 11 different countries is amazing. It’s been a very, very good experience so far.

This is such a deep team and you play in a spot that has competition for the starting job. How do you manage the emotions of not always getting the first spot while also staying ready to play? That’s part of the sport. I was always told you need to be ready for the opportunity and, when the opportunity comes, you need to show that you deserve the spot. I can’t promise I’m going to perform every single game, but what I can promise and what I try to show is that I’m willing to die between the lines every single game. I’m going to fight for every single ball. I’m not the tallest guy, not the strongest guy, but I’m going to leave everything on the field for my teammates. That’s the most important thing, I think. We’re all fighting for spots, but we’re all on a team and we all know that we need each other. If one performs well and another also performs well, it’s a difficult decision that the coaches have to make and that’s why they are here. They’re here to make the decisions and we’re here to play and to get the job done. So far, we’re doing a very good job. We still have room to improve, of course, but, so far, we’re happy with what we have done.

What do you think has been the biggest key for this team over its five-game winning streak? I think the first two games we realized we can lose points against anyone. Those two ties put us behind and we said, “It’s not going to happen again to us.” Our goal is to get the ball, play our game the way we want, and take control of the game as soon as possible. We don’t want to suffer until the end like what happened at Brooke House where they got a result out of nothing and took two points from us. I think we’ve set a standard since the beginning, adapting to the game as much as we can and trying to perform and kill the game as soon as possible.

You guys just finished the first compact stretch of the season and it seems like the team’s conditioning has held up well. Did you feel as fit as you looked after four games in 12 days? Having a coach like Claudio Pavanelli is very important. He knows a lot and we’ve been doing lots of training with him. I try to always do more and he tells me, “No, no, no. Stay calm. You have a game Wednesday and a game Saturday.” I respect him a lot and I like him a lot because he and the other coaches show us that they care about us, not just our performance. They make us feel at home. We’re leaving a lot of things behind to be here for the summer and they treat us like we’re part of it. One other thing that’s very important here is the depth. You always need to be prepared and we need help from everyone, from the guys that are on the bench and the guys who don’t always make it onto the roster. The physical conditioning and the depth are very important.

Speaking of that depth, how much does it enhance the training experience here this season? I think it’s very important. I really think that the most difficult games are in practice, because you know everyone and the toughest opponents are your own teammates. They know you, they know how you defend, they know everything about you. It’s very important to perform in training because it’s going to decide who plays and who’s on the roster. Having a very competitive team and competitive training, it helps you a lot and I’ve realized that since I got here. In two or three days, you realize the quality we have within the team. The whole team is made up of very, very talented players that challenge you in practice, but make it easier for you when you step on the field.

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Game 6 vs Nona FC 6/15/2024

Man of the Match: Nico Diaz

Coffee and questions with Nico Diaz  The Standard CLCL

Nico Diaz was named Man of the Match for scoring two goals and recording an assist in our match against Nona FC and is enjoying an iced caramel latte from The Standard CLCL.

You’re from Florida, but you came to the club from Spain. How did you end up at Brave SC? In 2021, I played for FC Florida when the club was still The Villages SC. I played with Oscar (Resano) on that team, so he was my connection to Brave. I was in Spain and looking for a way back to the U.S. to play at a high level here for the summer, so I called Oscar and asked him to speak with Coach Anderson. I spoke to Coach myself and there was a bit of a process there, getting to know him, showing him my videos. I came out to training the first day and loved it.

What was the thought process behind leaving Spain to come back to Florida to play here this summer? I just saw something a couple months ago that said, when you’re standing at the base of a mountain and you look at the top, it looks very far. But, if you look at the step right in front of you and you keep following that step, eventually, you’ll get to the top. I’ve just been taking it one step at a time, everything that’s been thrown at me, I’ve been doing my best to stay positive, so it’s a lot of perseverance and trusting myself and I have faith that I will be where I want to be. Just knowing that what’s meant to happen will happen and not worrying things I can’t control is key.

We’ve talked about how the confidence of the team has grown over this four-game winning streak, but how early did you see the potential of this group? First week of training, I saw the quality that we have. When we have everyone firing on all cylinders, I don’t see anyone that can stop us.

A couple days removed from Saturday’s match, how have you processed your two-goal, one-assist against Nona? It’s a surreal feeling when you hit a shot like that, especially when it goes in a game like that. But getting the win and Oscar getting his first goal was such a huge moment for him and for everybody on the team because everybody knows how hard he’s been working for it. Honestly, I was just really happy that he got his first one and now we’re focused on Gainesville coming up. We got the three points against Nona, now we need three more on Wednesday.

In such a short season, there’s not a lot of time to recover when things go wrong. How important do you think the off-field bond of the team is in keeping things on track? That’s our biggest asset. I would 100% say that’s our biggest strength is how together we are. It really feels like a family. Immediately, the first week we were together, everybody clicked. There’s not a single conflict I can think of that we’ve had between two individuals. Just being together through everything, we haven’t experienced a loss and hopefully it stays that way, but I know, if there was any adversity to come our way, we’d be able to handle anything.

What do you think the ceiling of this team is? I think we can go all the way. The difference is the camaraderie, just how together we are. I know it can take us all the way. I heard yesterday that Brave has never gone an entire season undefeated, so I would like to be part of the first.

Game 5 vs Brevard SC 6/12/2024

Man of the Match: Niclas Wittur

Coffee and questions with Niclas Wittur  The Standard CLCL

It’s time for another edition of Coffee & Conversation with our latest Man of the Match, Niclas Wittur. Niclas is enjoying an iced chai from The Standard CLCL.

You played your first match of the season last Saturday. How natural was it for you to rejoin Brave SC? I was excited of course, not really nervous. It was similar to years before. I knew the environment, but didn’t know all the guys, but I don’t really have problems with people on or off the field, so I was excited to meet the new guys and see what they could do. It always makes it a bit easier when you know some players, but even easier because I know Coach Anderson and know he trusts me from last season. It gives you a confidence boost right away, especially for me, struggling after an injury. I needed that feeling and I’ve done well so far and am happy to help the team in any way I can and try to build on that momentum.

Your last competitive game was for Brave SC last season when you got injured. How hard was it not being a part of that playoff run and then trying to get back in shape to play again? I was dealing with the injury when the summer was over and I really struggled more with the mental side of it. It wasn’t so much when we went on the playoff run because, once I was off the field, I was a supporter — and a coach, sometimes — and I was fully invested in that. Looking back, yes, I’m a bit sad I couldn’t take part on the field, but I wasn’t sad when it happened. I was happy for the boys and invested in the team off the field and tried to do my part there. When I went back to Wingate after the season last year, I couldn’t play and we had so many new guys incoming who had heard about me and what I’d done in the years before, but I wasn’t able to play. It was really my first injury that took me off the field for a long time and it was really more the mental part than being in pain that kept me off the field. It’s still there, but I’m just trying to build up a rhythm and get back consistently.

You have an important match coming up on Sunday. What’s your mental process like going into a game like Nona? I don’t really need that much motivation for a game like that, personally. I take in how it is in the locker room and everyone’s fired up a bit more and that helps me in those games, but I prepare for every game the same because I want to play those games 100%, no matter who it is. But, in those more intense games, the energy is slightly different and I would prefer every game to be like that, if I’m honest.

Despite arriving later than many of the other players, it seems like you’ve fit right in again on the field. What do you attribute that to? I think chemistry is always the key. It always helps when you have a bond off the field, as well. Of course, it matters that you have that character and that spirit on the field. You don’t need to be best friends with everyone off the field to be successful, but it helps. With me being a bit older and my third year back, it’s just enjoyable to meet guys from different backgrounds, and different countries, but also see some familiar faces. That’s always nice to see those guys and that character and that bond is always needed if you’re going to go far. Being in the house with 16 or 17 other players is a big part of it. I’ve played in summer leagues before where everyone was with a different host family, so there wasn’t much you would do with the other players off the field. Here, we kind of stick together and it’s a lot of fun.

As a three-year veteran of the team, do you feel more responsibility to take on a leadership role? I would say so. Maybe that’s why Coach Anderson also threw me in right away, because the team needs to find an identity early on. If you have a player who’s been here the two seasons before, it’s probably easier for them to take charge and be more vocal and that’s what I’m trying to do as best I can.

Were you extra-motivated to return this year because of how last season ended? For me, personally, it wouldn’t have mattered, even if we won it. I would have liked to come back to join a championship-winning team. Even my first year when we lost in the first round on penalty kicks, same thing. We were so close to that final but, for me, it wouldn’t have mattered if we’d lost two rounds earlier, with regards to wanting to come back. I love the environment and I wanted to be here.

Game 4 vs Brooke House 6/8/2024

Man of the Match: Matheus Ferreira

Coffee and questions with Matheus Ferreira  The Standard CLCL

Matheus earned Man of the Match honors after recording a goal and an assist in our game against Brooke House FC on Saturday and is enjoying a Vanilla Blender from The Standard CLCL.

You were very vocal about wanting to return to the team this season. What was it that made you want to come back to Brave SC? The club has one of the best structures in USL League Two. I definitely loved getting to live with the guys in the house and wanted to feel that energy again and play competitive soccer and try to be at my highest level, and I know Brave can offer that to me.

How much has the way last season ended — coming up just short of the league championship game — motivated you this season? We came back mostly because of last year’s run — we did so well, but we didn’t accomplish the end goal. We wanted to be back and be part of this new run and hopefully make it to a national championship and win it this time. There’s also some fear of coming back because it’s a new group, so can we work through all of these steps again and make it one more time? That’s how you prove who you are. Doing it once is good, but doing it twice is even better. I hope we can get the running going so that we can play for finals and championships every year.

You’ve been extremely involved in the team’s success from the beginning this season and you’re tied for the team lead in goal involvements. To what do you credit your hot start? My style of play is, if I have so much to prove, I most likely won’t produce as much. Last year, when I showed up, I wanted so badly to prove to myself and the coaches that I deserved to be here that I wasn’t as focused on my own game. Now, in my second season, I know they know me and I know I’m free to work and do the things I know I can do. Things are just so much more fluid and are going so much better and I’m able to work and help the team.

How would you describe the way that you play soccer? I grew up playing soccer on the streets back home. We didn’t have a plan, we didn’t have a referee, we didn’t have a coach, so you’d do whatever you wanted, just try to win the game. I was born with a competitive side, but we had nothing on the line. We would bet a Coke at the end for the winner. As a kid, you played with your heart because you wanted to win, but I never had a style of passing or a style of kicking. I had to find out on my own how I wanted to be as a player. Once I moved to the field or in futsal, it helped me a lot because I would be unpredictable. I had nothing programmed. That’s what I think is special about my experience playing and it’s worked well for me so far.

It’s not injured, so why do you always play with a wrap on your hand? That’s an interesting story. The year of high school that I played in the United States and my first few years of college, the cameras were not the best, and my mom would confuse me with a few of my teammates when she watched the streams of the games. So I came up with a system for her to be able to identify me better and I said, “Always look for the white thing on my hand, because I’ll always be wearing it.” I started doing that and we started winning games and I have a little bit of superstition. I played five years of college and, now, it’s my second summer doing that, so it’s been working.

It’s natural to compare one year’s team to another. What do you think are the similarities and differences between this year’s team and last year’s? I think the difference is the maturity from last year. The guys last year, they were a little more mature in terms of age and soccer skills. They had a sense of how to pick their times a little bit because they’d played more soccer, many were close to or done with college. I think the younger guys this year, they want to do a lot of things at once. It still works, but it’s just a different way to see. The main similarity, though, is that both groups want to win so bad. I’m competitive, so I can see people’s mentality and if they want to win like I do. We have a group of guys that, no matter if they’re playing or not, they want to win, and that’s important.

Game 3 vs Brevard SC 6/1/2024

Man of the Match: Fabio Rodrigues

Coffee and questions with Fabio Rodrigues  The Standard CLCL

It’s time for another edition of Coffee & Conversation with Fabio Rodrigues, our Man of the Match for our home opener! Fabio is enjoying a fruited kombucha from The Standard CLCL, one of his go-to choices at the Lady Lake location.

This being your first year with the club, what’s it like trying to find your place on a new team? I play college soccer with Pedro Santos and he knew Coach DaSilva, so that was kind of how I found my way here. The only guy I knew was Leo (Andrade) because he’d been to Wingate to see Pedro and I’d met him, so he was the person I kind of clung to when I first got here. That was kind of a good starter to bond with the team. It’s hard when you first get here and you don’t know anybody, so what I try to do is just give my best on the field. I believe that, when people see you on the field, you don’t have to be amazing, but, if they see you working hard, see you giving your best, they see you in a different way. That opens up conversations, opens up some areas where you can get to know that person off the field, as well. So that was what I was more focused on: just do your best on the field and the rest will — and did — work out.

It seems like this year’s team bonded really quickly. Were you surprised at how fast that happened? For sure. I’ve never experienced a team like this in my soccer career. It starts with Coach Anderson. His personality is so humble, so kind, and that brings all of us together. When the person at the head of the team treats the team like that, it pushes us to treat each other like that. I think that was a big thing and it’s awesome to see how it’s built because of that. It’s the reason we became a team so quickly. Mathias invited me and a few of the other guys to go to the beach and do stuff together and I think that, with the period of time we had before the first two games being so short, those things, plus how Coach treats us, allows us to grow quickly and positively as a team.

This year’s team seems to have a lot of offensive talent. What’s it like to play with a team like that and also to compete with and against it in practice every day? It’s a privilege to be around these guys. It also means accountability. If you’re slacking and you see your teammate score, it pushes you to be better. It also builds that confidence and trust in your teammate that, if you pass it to him, he’ll score. In the first two games, we were struggling to put the ball in the net, but we were creating the chances. I think that build-up and putting each other in those situations is part of getting to know each other and, when it clicks, I think that quality is going to show even more, and hopefully we’ll have the best offense in League Two.

People are still buzzing about your bicycle kick goal from Saturday. What was it like watching that play afterwards? I found the goal to send it to my parents and that’s when I first saw it. Then, we were doing camp and Mathias (Tieppo) was showing one of the little kids, so they’ve been talking about it. I was blessed to score that and it worked. Honestly, though, that’s not the best moment of the season. To me, it’s the fact that we won that home opener. I think that’s important, regardless of me scoring or anyone else. I think that fact that we won is the most important thing and that feeling of victory is way more valuable than a bicycle kick. Of course, I’m glad that it happened — who doesn’t want to score a bicycle kick? But it’s Mathias making one-on-one saves, it’s Alvaro making plays, it’s Matheus scoring that first goal to get us going, it’s everyone coming together to make that win what it was. I think that for sure tops my goal.

We’re coming up on the first really dense stretch of the season. How have the coaches and veteran players prepared you for that grind? It’s a hard part of the schedule, specifically physically. Four games in two weeks is a tough thing to do, but I think that our coaching staff has everything under control and they’re pushing us in the ways they have to and I’m looking forward to these next two weeks. Shout out to Coach Pavanelli. He knows what he’s doing, how to push us on the days we need to be pushed to get fit, but also how to rest us when we need to rest for those games. Personally, I haven’t really thought that much about it, just doing my best in practice and trusting the coaches to do what’s best for us. I think the only thing we have to focus on as a team is to create scoring opportunities, play as a family, and enjoy ourselves, and we’ll come out with the result, regardless of the condensed schedule.

Game 2 vs Brooke House 5/29/2024

Man of the Match: Mathias Tieppo

Coffee and questions with Mathias Tieppo  The Standard CLCL

It’s time for another edition of Coffee & Conversation with Mathias Tieppo! Mathias earned Man of the Match honors for his performance at Brooke House FC and is enjoying a fruited kombucha (recommended by Fabinho) from The Standard CLCL.

What was it about Brave SC that made you want to come back for a second season?

I’ve played on a lot of teams in Brazil and here in the United States and in Europe, as well, and we have something here that’s hard to find, especially in soccer. The environment is so good. It’s like one big family and it’s nice to work in those conditions. Everyone has got your back. You feel free to try things, to develop as a soccer player. That’s probably the main thing that drew me back.

Last year, the team was so close to reaching the USL League Two Championship. How much of a motivator was that for you to return this season?

I came here feeling that something was missing. I look at the trophy shelf and I see the Southern Conference championship trophy and it reminds me that we got so close and I feel like we could have gone to the final and maybe won the championship. This motivated me to come back because I knew some guys would come back and the club always recruits good guys, so that was important. I feel like, this year, we can do even better than we did last year.

You’ve been back with the team for a month. What were those early days of the season like compared to your first time joining Brave SC?

The process is kind of the same. The first few practices, the first few days are kind of weird because you’re not that close to everybody, not everybody’s joking and talking. This year, what I tried to do since I was here last year and I’m one of the oldest guys in the house, was try to bring everybody together. We started to spend time together, get close to one another, and it transfers to the field. It’s nice when you play with guys that you trust and like because you’re not playing for yourself. When you’re playing a lot of games in a short space, everything happens so fast, so all of that helps accelerate that process coming together.

You’ve already had to make a couple of one-on-one saves this season. What’s going through your mind when you’re in those tough spots?

Honestly, I think that’s one of the things I do better as a goalkeeper, those 1v1 situations. When someone’s coming at me, the first thing I worry about is I don’t want to get chipped, so I try to time it to get big in a range where he doesn’t have much space to chip me. That’s the first thing on my mind. Then, I try to wait until he’s as close as I can. He’s waiting for me to move and I’m not moving, so it gets hard for him. Then, when he’s about to kick, I just get big.

What’s different for a goalkeeper in a close game compared to one like our 5-0 win in the home opener?

For goalkeepers, we can’t think it’s an easy game. We can never think like that, because it only takes one mistake to make the game hard for everybody and erase everything that’s been done before. You can be playing a good game and lose concentration and make one mistake and, all of a sudden, it’s over. I always try to keep my concentration because, if I let my guard down, they just need one shot. Even a bad team can have one or two good shots in a game. That’s what I keep reminding myself.

You got a nice reminder of what it’s like to play a home match this past weekend. What do you like more about playing at home?

I like the environment there, the stadium, and the fans, of course. It’s a different atmosphere there. I don’t feel like there’s another team in our division that has what we have. It’s special.

Make sure to visit The Standard in Lady Lake or in the Brownwood Hotel and Spa and check out their website at

Game 1 vs Florida Elite 5/20/2024

Man of the Match: Alvaro Carrera

Coffee and questions with Alvaro Carrera  The Standard CLCL

The first edition of Coffee & Conversation this year is with Alvaro Carrera, the Man of the Match for our season opener! Alvaro is enjoying a Caramel Blender from The Standard CLCL. Pay them a visit in Lady Lake or Brownwood for some great coffee and check out!

For the guys who came back from last season, is there a sense of wanting to finish what you started after making it to the USL League Two semifinals last year?

The team’s strength develops over time. We all have the trust within each other and, throughout the season, we were able to strengthen the team more and more. We made it to the semifinal and had the potential to make it to the final, so, of course, this year we want to repeat and make it to that last game. I think we have the confidence and determination to do that. It’s a short time from when the guys arrive to when you start playing.

How do you overcome that newness in this early stretch of the season?

Throughout the season, but, especially the first week or two, we try to take advantage of all the time we have together and build a strong bond. Throughout the first week of players coming in, we try to make everybody feel comfortable, make it feel like a family, and we get stronger.

What’s your initial impression of both the talent and the chemistry of this year’s team?

The talent is good. All of these players have the same desire — they all want to play. Obviously, it’s a different type of game for players that come from different teams, but we try to welcome them in with our game as much as possible. In the first game, it was an interesting game but, in time, that bond and chemistry off the field will make its way onto the field and we’ll be able to feel each other out and get to where we want to be.

What’s your initial impression of both the talent and the chemistry of this year’s team?

The talent is good. All of these players have the same desire — they all want to play. Obviously, it’s a different type of game for players that come from different teams, but we try to welcome them in with our game as much as possible. In the first game, it was an interesting game but, in time, that bond and chemistry off the field will make its way onto the field and we’ll be able to feel each other out and get to where we want to be.

In the opener, you said you knew Matheus (Ferreira) was going to find you with the cross that you scored. Do you feel like you retained a lot of chemistry with the guys you played with last year?

Matheus really understands me well and vice versa. We just understand each other. Having him to have my back on the field and know my steps, my way of play, it makes everything easier and smoother and, if we can have everybody develop and be on the same page that way, it’ll amount to great things.

Last year, you joined the team via tryouts, worked your way up from the second team, and ended up winning Southeast Division Player of the Year. How are your expectations for yourself different this season?

At the beginning of last season, coming from a tryout and not knowing much about the team’s origins, it was hard for me starting out. But, the farther I got in and had the chance to develop my game, Coach Anderson gave me the opportunity to move up levels and we were able to win our division and conference and all of that was a great experience that made me more comfortable. I didn’t have expectations, but all I did was try to play my best game and showcase my teammates and their ability. I have nobody to thank but God and Coach Anderson for being able to travel and experience everything we did. Just like me, our team had our doubters that didn’t think we’d make it that far, and we were able to overcome that and win our division and our conference. I’m just trying to help the team reach our goals again this year.

For the fans, what can they expect to see from the team this year?

Firstly, I want to thank our fans. They give us that backbone of support that helps us both on the field and off the field. Keep coming out and supporting, because we try to bring you guys a lot of joy and excitement. I think this year’s team really brings out the joy of soccer and I think everyone will really enjoy it. Thanks to the fans, we have the motivation to keep going throughout the season, and we appreciate the joy and love from them.