Man of the Match with The Standard
This season each Man of the Match will be treated to an afternoon outing at The Standard for some coffee and questions.
Game 9 vs Swan City 7/1/2023
Game 12 vs Tampa Bay United 7/15/2023
Man of the Match: Mathia Tieppo
Coffee and questions with Mathia Tieppo The Standard CLCL
How did you come to be a part of our club?
I already followed The Villages SC because I’m a very good friend of Pedro. He and I played together when we were young. He would post on social media and I would speak with him about it. Then I asked to see if there was an opportunity for him to recommend me. He made the connection with coach Anderson so that’s how it happened.
You mentioned that you had seen some things about the club online, how was it when you arrived? Did it live up to your expectations?
In some teams I have played in the past I would arrive and have some sort of a negative surprise. Sort of “this wasn’t what they said.” But here it was a pleasantly surprise because everything that Pedro had told me or that I had seen was in fact the same. The housing and food we are provided are very good, the people here, it’s a nice environment. I didn’t know that The Villages is a retirement community or much about this part of Central Florida. It’s beautiful, clean and pretty calm. One thing I find really nice is how close the fans are to us. They come to talk with us and give us hugs. One example of how close they are was that in one of the games I had finished all my water. But I had to stay focused so I kept playing. A fan noticed and filled my water bottle for me. It was such a nice gesture and it goes to show that they are supporting in any way they can.
How about the team?
I think we have a great chance to win the league. I follow some of the other teams and from what I’ve seen in regards to soccer here our team is very good. It’s happened that players come in from the bench and the level doesn’t go down. That’s characteristic of a winning team. All the players are quality athletes and a team that the level doesn’t go down when a change happens is very good.
What do you think of Coach Yago helping as a player on the field?
It’s different. When I have to say something to Henrique or Leonardo I know I can speak in a more assertive way and with Yago being a part of the coaching staff there is some thought that goes into what to say during training. But when the game is going on that is completely forgotten. I can speak the same way, no change. One thing that I find very positive is that since he has played here for a long time I see that he does already have a leadership quality that does give us as the defense a lot of confidence. So I see it as a positive.
The first game you were man of the match against Swan City SC, on paper should have been an easy game for us. What do you think happened?
I think it was a combination of a lot of things. We got there and the first thing we had to do was to change in the bus as there was no locker room, we played on a side field and it was theoretically an easier game. Everything combined, made the level of concentration of the team go down. What I tried to keep in mind was that if we lost that game the dream would have been over. We wouldn’t be where we are today.
For the defenders, it’s always complicated because in a game that is so-called “easy,” it only takes one ball for them to change the outcome. No matter how easy the game may be there is always a need to be vigilant so that one simple counterattack won’t jeopardize the whole team’s goals. I’m glad I help to keep us on track.
What do you think about us going forward into playoffs?
I think concentration is the most important part for us to keep going. Once the game is decided then yes, we can work on controlling the pace but before then we need to have our minds sharp and play with intensity. That balance of knowing when to push and when to hold will be crucial. Sometimes the game is controlled but if they score, that changes the dynamic so it’s important to show the opponent who we are in the first half. I’m confident in our team and think we will do well in the playoffs.
Game 11 vs Swan City 7/12/2023
Man of the Match: Austin Lukasik
Coffee and Questions with Austin Lukasik at the thestandardclcl.com
How do you feel about being back this year?
It was difficult the first year, not knowing what to expect and different situations in terms of how I was living and playing ability. I was excited for what it could hold, especially knowing guys from the past as well that were coming back. Being familiar with the situation, the environment. It’s much more comfortable.
You joined the team thru tryouts, correct?
Yes, I had no idea what USL2 was. I didn’t know about the pyramid or how anything worked. I did a bit of research and I left school early to try out. It’s all really been from the ground up. It’s different coming from a D-3 school and not having a ton of connections to be able to get my foot in the door, especially a team with the infrastructure that The Villages has. I thought it would be a stretch, but I wanted to see what would happen. If you don’t try, you won’t succeed. I’ve been blessed that coaches kept inviting me back ever since.
You are one of those players that comes in the same way, no matter how many playing minutes you get.
Whether I’m going to get 30 minutes or 3 minutes I need to make the most of that because as coach says all the time, he doesn’t make the decision about who plays, we do. We make the decision for him at practice and games as well.
I remember in my first season I would get 2-3 minutes. Coach made some comments, so I knew that in those few minutes if I made the right decision I would get more opportunities. In my first year, I had an open goal in a game, at 2 minutes during extra time.
I could have tried to score, but we were winning so I thought that if I tried to score and miss, they could counterattack. So I worked the clock, basically. Coach appreciated that. From there I was like, okay, he notices and respects the time you come in and might grant you more minutes.
Tell us about some of the difficulties in your first year.
It was really difficult. I didn’t know what my position would be and the house was already full. I was living in an RV for a while, and then in a motel with another friend of mine. We didn’t have money. We would try to make $2 to $3 meals from Wal-Mart in the sink of the bedroom. It wasn’t the best environment, it wasn’t the safest place. Police were called in all the time. All I wanted to do was go live in the player’s house and keep playing. We would talk about how we would look back at this and it would be worth it.
The sacrifices of my parents and I have made. Now the staff at the house are like my parents when I’m here. They are the best. It feels, feels really good. Sometimes I have to look back. There are up and down moments. There are lows when I’m not playing as I want, or I’m not getting as many minutes but then thinking back that I’d give anything to be in the position that I’m currently in. It just humbles you a bit and just makes you reflect and get out of that funk.
How was that moment you were selected as Man of the Match?
It was good. I feel like I’m the type of player that is not going to really have those Man of the Match performances because I do a lot of the dirty work. So I wasn’t expecting it at all. I don’t do it for recognition. I do it for the team. We have a lot of great players and I pride myself on working really hard, so it felt good to be recognized for sure.
How do you think you did in that game?
I thought I played well. In the first half, I thought I played a bit better than the second. I just kept wanting to score and be involved offensively. I probably should’ve just stayed back and held on to the lead. I did well defensively, nothing was coming down my side. I felt good at the end and I knew my dad would text me to say I had a good game because if I don’t, he would just be honest with me. I thought I played well but Man of the Match didn’t cross my mind.
How do you feel about this team going into the next phase of playoffs?
There have been games we’ve played much better and prettier but ultimately these last five or six games, where we haven’t lost, we’re grinding it out. We’re getting the results. And so I think we’re hitting stride at a perfect time to go into playoffs. All these teams that we’re going to play have known they’ve been going to pass for a while. They haven’t had to play every game like a final. So we’ve already we’ve been in playoffs for a month. So I think it’s it’s going to reflect in the performances and the results also.
What do you think about the season overall?
We’ve been grinding it out. I think it’s been a character-building season for sure. We haven’t been at the lead in the table even though we’ve been the better team. I like chasing, I mean, obviously, it’s better to be in the lead, but, just playing every game like a final adds something extra to the implications.
Game 8 vs Fl Elite 6/28/2023
Man of the Match: Nicolai Muench
Coffee and Questions with Nicolai Muench at the thestandardclcl.com
How do you feel about being back this year?
Great. I knew I wanted to come back. I talked with Alemao (Niclas Wittur) and we both wanted to come. Our last season didn’t end the way we wanted. So now we’re here again for another chance. It feels great to be here again.
What do you think is different?
We have a different team with several new players. This year I feel like our chemistry is super, super good. In the house, we all get along so well. Last year was a bit like Brazilians here the others there but this year I feel like everyone gets along with everyone. So that’s a good difference this year.
How do you feel about the team?
I felt great at the beginning of the season and I still do. We had a quality team last year and we have a quality team this year, it’s about mentality now. Can we be consistent? Can we perform? Can we be together on the pitch? That’s a big thing this year and so far I think we’ve done well. We’ve had a few setbacks in the regular season, but towards the end of the season now, we’re doing pretty well and have learned from our mistakes so I’m confident for the playoffs.
How did you come to play for The Villages SC?
It was quite funny actually. I knew I wanted to play a Summer League after my freshman year in college. I wanted to stay in the USA during the summer. Then the coach from my old school, had contacts with a team in Minnesota which the majority of the players were going to. I didn’t want to go there because everyone else was. So I checked with the coach about other options. One player at that college had secured a spot here so I spoke with him. Then my coach called to let Coach Anderson know that he had another guy and luckily I got a spot. He and I came together and later it ended up that it didn’t work for him but it did for me. I’m very grateful for my college coach because he really helped a lot during this process.
Tell us about your playing style.
I’m a defender at first but I really like to play offensively. I enjoy helping the attack. I grew up like this, even in Germany I just played very offensively. Last year at my college, I played as a winger, so I was actually a number 9 or winger, so that helped my game as well. Even now as a right back, I have more confidence offensively. I push up a lot. Maybe too much sometimes but it’s just how I play. I scored a very important goal against Florida Elite that helped us to go to the playoffs. I also scored against Nona, even if it was a bit lucky. Those were two big games. As a right back, it feels, really great. I’m not the person to catch the ball and be selfish and try to score all the goals, but as long as I can contribute, I’m happy.
The team has had a few games in the regular season that felt more like finals. What do you see going into playoffs?
I think the pressure was on us. Last year we had a few games in which we weren’t as concentrated and just tied against weaker teams and this year we know that every single game counts. This year the division was small so everything counted. We had setbacks and I think it helped our concentration. Right now I think we’re in a good place. We’re getting better and better and I think we’re all on the same page. So yeah, I feel very, very good for the playoffs for sure.
Game 7 vs Brevard SC 6/24/2023
Man of the Match: Alvaro Carrera
Coffee and Questions with Alvaro Carrera at the thestandardclcl.com
How did you come to play for us?
I came to do the tryouts for the UPSL team. Out of all of the players, I was the last one to be called. Coach Daniel called me at the very end. I started to train and play and it’s where I met Coach Yago. Coach Anderson came to watch a few of our matches. Then I got the invitation to train with the USL2 team in the mornings. From there was able to earn my spot on the team.
How was your first game with the USL2 team?
Totally different. The UPSL team has a younger group of players. The way it’s played is very different. My first USL2 game was versus Tampa Bay United. I noticed that the game was a lot faster and the pressure on the field was not the same. Also, players are mostly playing college and play very well so it was better. The group is very good so I was able to connect with them and that felt nice. A challenge but in a good way.
What do you think about the team?
The quality of this team is impressive. All the players play very well, every one of them. I see how the whole team really does their best at practice and work hard to be on the roster. Individually they all have strengths. They are all quality players.
Now you are starting. How is that?
I started on the bench and my feet would be itching for me to go in. Now I’m very grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to be one of the starters. When I play I play for the team because I don’t win alone. When I win, we all do.
Tell us about the game you were selected as man of the match.
That was the first game I was part of the staring 11. Coach gave me the opportunity and I had in my mind that I had to make the most of it. I scored 2 goals and also assisted in 2 others. It felt so good, thank God.
We’ve heard about your free kicks, especially during practice, do you like taking those?
It’s not that I focus on free kicks but when I train I do like to shoot towards the goal. Ever since I was living in Ecuador, I would always practice shooting in all different ways. In the UPSL my first goal was a free kick. It did give me more confidence.
What do you think about the difference in how soccer is played here in the USA?
The biggest difference between the game here and in Ecuador can be attributed to the fields. The fields in the USA are much better overall. In Ecuador, we would play on dirt fields where we would need to run more as the ball would roll faster. We would sometimes play on nice fields but where I grew up it was mostly dirt fields. I would leave the matches covered in it. I think soccer here is very strong and in both places, I feel that the players give their best.
Do you think that your time playing on dirt fields has helped you?
It’s much easier to play on grass as the ball doesn’t roll as fast. It does move fast but not as fast as on dirt. Risk of injury is also a factor because on dirt there is a greater risk of stepping on uneven spots. I think it did help me to be able to play faster.
How do you feel about the team going into playoffs?
The group right now is very close. Everyone has come together. Many speak different languages but they try to speak Spanish with me whenever they can. They all try to help me since I don’t speak English very well. I feel very connected to the team and very happy that we are going into playoffs. It’s a joy that in my first year here we are able to do this.
Game 5 vs Tampa Bay United 6/17/2023
Man of the Match: Niclas Wittur
Coffee and questions with Niclas Wittur The Standard CLCL
How is it to be back this year? Any difference from last year?
It’s actually great. Last year, it took me 2, maybe 3 games to get settled in. This year I came during the Easter break and it’s like coming home in a way. I come to a place where I feel very welcome. There are always new players, but a lot of familiar faces, so it was much easier.
The biggest difference is I didn’t know what to expect. Now I feel very confident and happy. I feel like I played a better quality season, so that helps with confidence as well.
You looked somewhat frustrated during earlier games. The one you were selected as Man of the Match, that wasn’t the case. Why do you think that was?
We have great quality in this team so when things are not going as well as I think they should it’s frustrating. Since I played last year I wasn’t new anymore and I’m one of the oldest players. In the game against Brevard, for example, I was not happy with the score. We should have scored more if we want to go far, which is obviously our goal. I wanted to make a statement to the league and to other conferences that we can score a lot of goals. That’s what made me upset. If I thought we weren’t good, I wouldn’t complain. We definitely have what it takes to be much more dangerous if we just finish it a bit better.
I tried to push in a way but later decided to step back and focus on my own game again. That’s what happened at that game. I thought: “I’ll play my game, I’ll do my job, and then the rest will come.” and it did.
Sometimes I don’t celebrate as much because for me it’s like, “finally we scored a goal.” We haven’t won the division yet. After the next game, I’m going to be happy to win the division and have something to celebrate. But I like celebrating when we’ve done it.
How about those games that we looked like the better team but the result didn’t show it?
Early in the season, we played very good first halves, but the score was only like 1×0 or 0x0. It’s not quite enough. Florida Elite came back twice against us. Once we tied and the other time they won which is very frustrating, especially the game when I got injured, I had a big chance to score and I missed it. Then basically being injured after 20 seconds into the second half I think I let the team down because, I couldn’t have done much about the injury, but I missed probably the biggest chance to score another goal for us.
You stayed after your injury. Do you think you might be able to still play this season?
I’m hoping that I’ll come back, but being realistic, I think my summer is probably over. Playoffs start next week and I haven’t started practicing yet, so my summer playing may be done, but I’m trying to support the team off the field. It was a key decision for me to stay and not go home or back to my university because I like the atmosphere here and our team. My commitment didn’t stop because of getting injured. I feel very welcome here and I appreciate that a lot so it’s a way for me to show appreciation as well. I have my goals and goals with the team. Maybe I cannot help this year but I would love to come back next year. Winning the division, we’ll play in the US Open Cup. So I hope that it won’t be my last game for The Villages SC.
How do you feel about the team going forward?
Pretty confident, I mean, the playoffs are knockout games, you don’t necessarily have to be a better team to win and we should keep that in mind because, in a lot of games, we have been the better team but maybe didn’t get the exact result that we wanted. We’re going to suffer in some games, but we’ve shown we can get through tough games. I feel like the mentality of the team is good so we can go pretty far, I’m pretty sure.
Game 4 vs Nona FC 6/14/23
Man of the Match: Pedro Santos
Coffee and questions with Pedro Santos The Standard CLCL
What did you do during the 2022 Summer?
Last year I had a different experience. For part of the Summer, I went to Brazil to see my family. I got to spend time with my parents and was there for my grandma’s 89th birthday which was very nice. College soccer is intense, then coming to USL2 is also intense so it was a bit more relaxing to take some time off.
Then in July, I came here to The Villages even though I couldn’t play because I wanted to find out more about how things are run and learn from the staff. I also did get to train with the team and support the team which was very good. The difficult part was that I couldn’t come on the field to help. That was an odd feeling.
Tell us about the day you found out the Tri-County Stampeders had made that banner of you.
That day was very special. I saw it and I was about to call coach and he called me. It was emotional. I cried with him on the phone. My connection with The Villages SC has felt unique from the very beginning. A strong connection. Then I saw that they made the banner I felt that people here had my back. I really wanted to be here and play but things happen for a reason and I believe that God has a plan. I wasn’t supposed to play that year but I’m here now and able to play and even be selected Man of the Match. Things worked out the way it was supposed to.
What is different about this year?
I think the responsibilities are bigger. I think the team mentality is very strong even during tough situations during training or games. I see a team that is focused. The mix of the returning players with the new ones has been very positive.
For me personally, it was one whole year of dreaming of my return. When I played the first friendly I got onto the field and it felt like nothing had changed. I was really born to play here for The Villages SC and it’s a place that I feel good and confident to play in. Even my teammate from college mentioned that my body language here is much more confident. I don’t know how to explain it but is something very special.
What I have here gives me more confidence to do my job. I get a lot from what Coach Anderson tries to teach. One of the things that he said was that a mistake that he makes he is always working on not repeating it. I take things like that to heart. I think that here I have a lot of good mentors. Coaches, staff there are several people that I see that are deserving of admiration in what they do on and off the field, and the least I can do is to give my all on the field for them.
Is there any difference for you as a player?
I think I’m more experienced. I’m going into my Senior year in college. When I got here the first year I had the technical skills and the willingness to push myself but I was missing that feel for the game here in the USA. We know that it is a very different style from South America or Europe so my time in college and in the USL2 helped me to grow especially in my decision-making. This past season in college I receive several individual accolades and I can say that I’m living now my best moments on the field. I told coach when I got here “Please don’t hold back. If I’m doing anything wrong let me know because I want to do my best”. I feel that I have more responsibility but I also think that I’m more prepared to do what needs to be done.
What did you think about the Nona FC game in which you were selected as Man of the Match?
We can’t avoid the reality that they are a good team but not just myself but my teammates are confident and focused on our side. I live for these games. I like these bigger games. No disrespect to them but I had the feeling of hoping everything would work out well because as I mentioned before the people here are deserving of success. We know that in soccer sometimes things go a different way but I was thinking of the people here that do the right thing on and off the field and it turned out to be a good match. I like when the game demands a lot from the player because that is when you get to see the real players. Same thing when we play against River Plate. That game required the highest level a player can play and the majority of us did give our all and we were able to play head-to-head with one of the best teams in the world. I love these kinds of situations and challenges in my professional life and my personal life as well because I like to prove to myself and the other side that I’m prepared. If I do something and realize that I was not ready I can learn from it.
At the Nona FC game, we had just come off a stressful game against FL Elite SA. That was a lesson for me. Coach knew how to talk with me and I look to him as a father figure. He said that as a leader on the field I needed to help calm my teammates. I told him “I know but I want to win. Especially when I put on this jersey I can’t look at a situation like that calmly”, he said that “I know how it is and it’s one of the reasons that I trust you but use this in your favor. You can’t get into their mental games, use it as a motivator” and it was what I did. I got in with his advice in mind and was set to use it during the game and I was able to put it into practice.
Coming from a stressful game to turning around to be selected Man of the Match. How was that for you?
How do you see the team going forward?
I think the team is getting thicker skin. I think we are growing together and tuff games have helped us do just that. Is not easy to build a whole new team so every day, every game we are getting closer to the vision of the team we know we have.
Game 3 vs Florida Elite SA 6/10/23
Man of the Match: Nick Butler
Coffee & Questions The Standard CLCL with Nick Butler
Do you get to practice Spanish with some of the guys on the team?
I do speak with some of the guys here. I enjoy doing that which was something I couldn’t do before. Learning a new language is fun and I’m happy that I can.
Tell us about something that you really enjoyed in Spain. Was there a favorite food?
I really got to enjoy trips to Madrid and Barcelona, which was very nice. Madrid is now my favorite European city. I wouldn’t say I had a favorite food but I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker before I went there. Then I started drinking a lot of expresso and stuff like that so that’s probably the most memorable thing that I discovered.
What do you remember about the last game you played with us back in 2021?
It was a friendly against River Plate. I remember that I started on the bench. Then Tete (Vacas), got injured in the first half so I went in for him. They scored 1st and then late in the 2nd half, I scored. Unfortunately, they did score another right at the very end but it was a really great match to play in.
What do you remember about the goal and were you nervous playing against one of the best teams in the world? Were you nervous?
In those situations, you know what you are doing but you can’t really think about it. You are going off your instincts and just reacting to the moment. I can’t say that I planned it but it’s a great memory that I have and I’m very happy that it happened.
I wasn’t nervous. I just really wanted to play. I was angry that I wasn’t playing from the beginning so as soon as I got on I wanted to do something. It’s important, especially in games like that because you never know who is watching and you may get an opportunity from it so that’s how I approach everything thing.
Speaking of goals, 1st home game and you score the very first goal that a lot of our fans got to see in person. How did that feel?
I love scoring and it was a unique moment because the game was the first one at the new stadium and in front of lots of people who haven’t watched us before so it felt amazing.
What do you think about this season, this team, and coming back to the Buffalo?
When I knew that I was coming back to America I knew that I wanted to play here. It’s only 25 minutes from my house and as far as teams in this league it’s one of the best. I think this year we have a great chance to do really well. We have a lot of good players and I think that we are playing maybe 60%-70% of our capacity and once we get it right we are going to be really difficult to beat.
What did you think about the Florida Elite game?
I think the first half was really good. We definitely looked a lot better than them. They are one of the best teams in our conference so to show them that we were better than them was really good. I think that maybe we could have scored another goal in that half. But they are a good team as well and they organized well defensively so I’m not surprised that we didn’t get to score in the second half and obviously they got a very good goal to tie it up. Sometimes it’s just how the game goes.
What did you think about getting picked as the man of the match at a home game?
I was surprised. I remember being on the field at the end talking with my girlfriend and friends and then I get a tap on my shoulder. They gave me the scarf and it was a really nice surprise. I think that is a great way to do it.
We’re reaching half of our season, what do you think the team needs to do going forward to get more goals and more points?
As I said, we still have a lot of potential to tap into. Some pieces may have to be moved. Some things may have to change. Whatever that is, the coaching staff will work on and then it’s up to us at the game to figure out ways to win. I think it’s not just about playing well but it’s also about finding ways to win. Relying on what we do good every game and then also trying to stop from making mistakes, it’s important.
Florida Elite was extremely vocal during that game. How did you stay calm thru it?
I think that no matter who you are playing you have to have a sense of equanimity. Whenever I see players shouting at each other or pushing each other I just want to get the game started so I can do something. I’ve been kicked on purpose and even had someone spit on my face before but I carried on because I want to get the ball and score. For me, I know that if I get a yellow card I might get a red card and the last thing I want to do is to come out. I learned my lesson from when I was younger that you can’t retaliate. You’re not bigger than the referee because he has the power to take you out of the game. Even if you only get a yellow card the coach is going to be inclined to take you out because he doesn’t want to lose a player. So, having emotional control is just as important as being a good athlete or player.
At the higher levels, you go through emotional rollercoasters every single day not just at the games but at training too. That’s what I learned in Spain. If something bad happens at the game or training you just have to get on with it and accepted it as part of the career you chose.
Game 2 vs Brevard SC 5/31/23
Game 6 vs Fl Elite 6/21/23
Game 10 vs Nona FC 7/8/23
Man of the Match: Lucas Mauro
Man of the Match interview at The Standard CLCLl with Lucas Mauro
How do you feel about your return to the Buffalo?
When I came at the start of this year for our friendly against Hertha BSC, I felt like I had returned home. I was welcomed right away and I know that when feel good about a situation things tend to flow for me. I couldn’t see myself playing for any other team in the USL2. It had to be The Villages SC.
What is different between the first year (2021) and this year?
Personally, I think the biggest difference is – experience. During my time away I played for the UCF which is a large university with a great soccer program that requires a lot of physical strength and overall game intelligence. I now feel more prepared than in my first year here.
2021 was your first experience playing soccer in the USA. How did that Summer with us help you prepare to play at the university level?
I realized that soccer in the USA is a lot more physical. At several of our games, our opponents might not have been better technically but they always had the physicality. That’s what I had to adapt to and it has stayed with me. This season as an example, in our first game against Tampa Bay United I went in thinking it would be a tough game physically and I was right. All we were missing to be a full-on fight was boxing gloves. If it were to go any further we would have had to get UFC (MMA) contracts.
What did you think about this past game against Brevard SC?
I think our team was able to adapt very quickly to playing on turf. We train every day on grass, so the speed of the game, and the way we carry the ball are very different. In the first 5-10 minutes we were able to adjust and then control the game. We maintained possession and created more chances than in our previous game. There was a good balance on both the right and left sides. We crossed and finished more. Our first half was 1×0 but it could very well have been at least 3×0 even before they had their player sent off.
What do you think about being selected “man of the match” and about the positive responses you received?
I think it’s very important. It goes back to the first question, that feeling of being welcomed and knowing that people are also happy that I’m back is very gratifying. As to being selected, it was something that I was speaking with coach the other day. I told him that while I have the energy, no matter the score, I’m always going to run as much as I can and that is what I tried to do. I started playing as a winger then in the second half, I moved to the #10 position. I tried to distribute the ball as much as I could and I’m glad to have helped the team in that way.
At the very end of the match, the ball went out and instead of staling you were calling for it with the same enthusiasm as in the beginning. You were playing as if we needed a goal to win. Do you remember that final play?
Yes, I noticed that when the ball went out, there were 3 of their defenders against 4 of our attackers. They were not coming at us as fast because, as you said, it was the end of the game. I wanted to take advantage of that. So, when my teammate got the ball for the throw-in I asked for it so I could do the overlap. We didn’t score that goal but we could have and that’s what keeps me going. Even in the final minutes.
Game 1 vs Tampa Bay United 5/27/23
Man of the Match: Leondro Andrade
Matt, the owner, met with him personally and made him a very good cappuccino. While he sipped, we got to ask him a few questions.
What do you think about the team so far?
The team is great. I don’t feel like any one person is trying to look out only for themselves. We are all working towards what is best for The Villages SC as a whole. Every one of us.
Our coaches are pushing us hard. There is no slacking at practice and during the last game even though we had most of the possession, at halftime coach made sure to bring us back to the reality that playing well doesn’t always translate to a win. I think that was good because it got us back to the second half in the right mindset.
What do you think you guys did well in this last game?
I thought the team reacted well by having the patience to keep going after the goal. We felt that it would happen and we keep pressuring by playing smart and not letting the pressure of how many minutes we had left get to us. The goal came with only 2 minutes left. That was a nice feeling to get the win and it is that winning feeling that we will take to the next game.
What do you think about being here?
I really like the area. I’m originally from Sao Paulo and I’m currently attending college in Petersburg. Both cities are very busy. Here is much more tranquil and that is very different from what I’m used to. I like it because I find that it helps me to be more focused.
The training facility and housing are very good. The staff gives us everything we need to do well. We just have to go to the field and do our job.