Defending the “goal”

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Defending the “goal” – A few moments with Orlando City Soccer coach Marcos Machado

The United States is dominated by several sports leagues. the NFL (American Football), the NBA ( basketball), MLB ( baseball), etc…Hundreds of thousands of spectators flock to see the games and the television ratings for championships like the superbowl skyrocket every year. However, the “ little engine that could” which can be known as the “Soccer movement” is growing. the MLS (Major league soccer) league continues to add more teams and more cities. “Soccer only” stadiums seating 20,000-25,000 are being erected in cities like Houston and Kansas city. The fan base for the united states national team has grown and the popularity of the sport has past the saturday morning parks watching little tommy play his first game.

A perfect example of this growth and momentum can be experienced right here in Orlando, Fl. Orlando is the home of the Orlando City Soccer Club. They play in a third tier division called the USL. This division is just after the North American Soccer league and the MLS. the Orlando city team began playing in 2011 and are the current league champions. Now in 2012, they are well on their way to repeating with a current record of 10-1-2.

The backbone of any soccer team is their defense. Orlando city hired former Brazilian professional soccer player and coach Marcos Machado to work with their goalies and strengthen the backline. As everyone knows, Brazil is the model and the epitome of soccer greatness. Sporting five world cup titles, numerous Copa America and confederations cup titles, and developing legends in the sport that are recruited to play all over the world. As such, I decided to spend a few moments with Mr. Machado and gain his unique, well experienced perspective on the state of soccer in general and more specifically here in the city beautiful.

Machado was born and raised in Recife, Brazil. He grew up playing the goalie position and played for teams like sport recife, American recife, and even played seven years in Portugal. He has been a goalie coach for over fifteen years as well. He moved to the United States 16 years ago with his wife, and raised three sons. “ I love Brazil”, Machado began during our discussion. “ However, I return there now when things are needed to be done. There is no way to compare the quality of life here in the United States and the opportunities here. This is my home.” It was an interesting comment to note considering the economic boom that Brazil is currently enjoying. They recently passed England as the 5th largest economic superpower. Orlando is a major hotbed for tourism and we just surpassed a record 55 million tourists…A major majority of these passengers come from Brazil and have helped stabilize our fragile economy here by spending in american stores and parks. You would think many Brazilians would want to return home and take advantage of this time of prosperity, but realty numbers and sales also support Machado’s position. Brazilians want to be here in Orlando and Miami. Brazil is also the next host of the world cup in 2014 and the olympics and 2016. I asked Machado if he felt a sense of pride, being a Brazilian and supporting these huge events. “ of course”, he said with a smile. “ I support Brazil and what happens there. But this is my home. I am happy that many more opportunities and jobs will be created as a result of these events as well as many new facilities like soccer stadiums. “

SEAN: let’stalk about Orlando City. With all of the success city has enjoyed to this point, what do you think the chances are of city one day joining the MLS?

MACHADO: I think we can only control what we can control. The rest is political. Our focus in on the team and on the players. We have a strong organization, great coaches, and a great team. We have a solid training facility in Sanford, Fl and one day the citrus bowl will be renovated. so, let’s see what happens.

SEAN: What are the major differences between soccer here in the States and soccer in Brazil?

MACHADO: The biggest difference comes at the beginning of the player’s career. In Brazil, the emphasis is on trying to make a squad. Everything depends on it. Hundreds of players can be fighting for the same position. Families sacrifice so that players can try and reach their dream and eventually carry the family. The players in Brazil dedicate their lives to soccer. Here, some of the times the kids grow out of it and end up playing other sports like american football and basketball. This type of pressure helps develop Brazilian players.

SEAN: How about coaching? The United States national team continues to get us excited and then eventually disappoint us. We have recently changed coaches and hired former German star Juergen Klinsmann as our coach. do you think coaching is one of the reasons the us struggles?

MACHADO: Actually, coaching here is much better than in Brazil. Not necessarily on the national level but at the youth level. When I was kid, most Brazilian coaches were former players. Brazilians are so talented, fast. So, the coaches would just say…”Hey, go find a way to do this”. Here, coaches really preach fundamentals. I am a part of this movement at a young age as I have been a part of the Florida rush and I am trying to develop players at a young age.

SEAN: Orlando city sees about 8000- 10000 fans per game which is pretty decent for a city not known to support local teams except for the Magic. Are you happy with the fan base so far or do you think there is room for growth?

MACHADO: Sure, we are happy with our fans. But there should and could be more. right now, we don’t have much press coverage at all from the local papers and the local television. We need the help of the local media to elevate our star players. I could walk into a coffee shop right now and see one of my players walk in and not a single head would turn. Because no one knows about them. We need help to continue to educate the fans about our team, because this is why fans come out. They come out to see the star players, wear their jerseys. And then, our numbers will rise.

SEAN: I am fascinated by the return of the world cup to Brazil. It has been over 60 years since the Maracanzo or the big loss at Maracana stadium in 1950 to Uruguay. What are Brazil’s chances of hosting the title trophy in 2014?

MACHADO: When ever Brazil plays, they are always a favorite to reach the finals of the cup because of the talent. they have a lot of young talent on their team, but they need to find the right mix of older and younger players…the chemistry. like we have here in orlando. if the chemistry is there, brazil will be dangerous.

SEAN: What are Orlando’s chances of repeating this year?

MACHADO: Well, I think our coach Adrian Heath does a great job of keeping us focused on the next game. We can’t worry about the championship right now. If we keep focused on the work we need to do now, we will have a good chance.

SEAN: Talk about Marcos Machado the coach. What are your goals personally over the next five years?

MACHADO: My focus is on Orlando City. I love this team and organization. I feel like i am part of something. I want to be a part of it as it grows, and hopefully one day we can play in the MLS, and I want to be a part of that. It is clear from our interview that Marcos understands the potential of the growth of soccer in the United States and more specifically here in Orlando. As the goalie coach, he is responsible for making sure clean sheets become the norm and for the defense of his club. orlando city is in good hands, and we wish them the best of luck in the future.

Sean Slack

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