ANDY SCHREUR - Thursday, July 11, 2013
With a frustrating season behind him, Tennessee-born goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell is excited for the new season after a transfer has brought him to Portuguese Primeira Liga club Gil Vicente.
After winning the starting role for Portuguese second division's Atlético Clube in the 2011-12 season, he transferred to first division Vitória Setúbal and had high hopes for his first season in the top flight in Portugal. However, the dual national (he grew up in Australia) was platooned on the bench for much of the season at Setúbal, despite struggling in the standings. Patterson-Sewell spoke to Yanks Abroad about his frustrating season and his optimism about the 2013-14 campaign.
"When you go through a tough time like that, in what probably should have been the happiest moment of my career, playing in the fifth biggest league in the world, in the Primeira League against bigger teams-It started off okay but I would say it was disappointing all around", the Tennessee born goalkeeper told YA. "I don't think I had many chances there to play-when you're on a losing team, you'd figure they would rotate the goalkeepers to try to find a winning formula."
However, after being named starter in training camp, Patterson-Sewell lost the starting spot and rather than rotate, Manager José Mota chose to stay with Pawel Kieszek.
"I played the first two games of the season-the first game I had a very good game, the next game was against Benfica, we had ten men for 85 minutes, after that I went on the bench and that's okay, we lost. That was my first loss and he took me out," Patterson-Sewell recalled.
The former Carolina Railhawk goalie did win the number one spot back several matches into the season but was once again replaced.
"I played again another three games; we drew the first one, won the second one and lost the third one. As soon as I lost again, he took me out and the other guy went back in to play. They [Setubal] would continue to lose and he would continue to play. So for me, in that sense, I don't think I got a fair shot," Patterson-Sewell said.
After being relegated to the bench again, Patterson-Sewell knew it was time to find a new club. He also expressed frustration with the underachieving performances of last season.
"I think it's fair to say I didn't get any confidence from that particular coach but that's his way and that's fine, you've got to respect that because as a player, you're just an employee and his job rides on the results that he got," Patterson-Sewell said of his time at Setúbal. "I don't think we got very many good results last year and that's disappointing because with the squad we had, we should have had a much better season than we did. That's sort of why you look to move on and go to a new team and put yourself in a better situation and I think I've done that."
Patterson-Sewell was eventually granted a transfer request although initially rebuffed by Setúbal at the end of last season. He was contacted by Australian A-League and MLS teams but it was a familiar face that came calling shortly after he was put on the market, his former Atlético manager João de Deus, now in charge of Gil Vicente.
"Once João de Deus called, there really wasn't anywhere else I was going, other than to go than to play for him," the dual-national said. "I've had a good working relationship with him in the past. It fit in well and let's see how we go this season."
Playing time was something that the two spoke about prior to the transfer being completed. Patterson-Sewell spoke about training camp and the goalkeeping situation at his new club. The Barcelos, Portugal based Gil Vicente finished last season in 12th place, one point behind Patterson-Sewell's old club Setúbal.
"I wouldn't say he [de Deus] has given us any indications [yet]. That was my question to him before I [came] here. What is the situation? Am I coming in as a number two [goalkeeper] or coming in to compete as a number one? His words to me were basically, ‘you'll come in and compete for a number one. The best guy will play,' Patterson-Sewell said. "I'll stay calm right up to the beginning and try to win it throughout the pre-season. If that doesn't happen, then [I'll] stay calm the first couple games of the season and see how we go. But, for right now, [I'm] trying to get that spot in the pre-season."
Patterson-Sewell also realizes that regular club playing time holds the key to playing international soccer at the highest level-for either the US National Team or Australian National Team, who have both expressed interest in the 26 year old shot stopper.
"The Australian National Team flew out here last year to watch me play and I put a decent performance but they basically said ‘just keep playing and you're in with a real good shot.' But, unfortunately, the coach took me out of the squad and that sort of killed that. The Australian team, their motto is: if you play, you're in with a chance to be called to the National Team," Patterson-Sewell said.
The one-time New York Red Bull also stated that there had been contact with the US National Team last season as well.
"We spoke at the beginning of last year and they said they'd keep an eye out and basically the same thing, ‘just make sure you're playing' but obviously last year [I] didn't get enough games and that's fair enough, you have to play at your club level to have any shot at your national team. That's what I have to do this year."
Patterson-Sewell expressed the desire to play international level soccer, especially going into the World Cup in Brazil next year, where it looks as though both the United States and Australia will qualify. However, he remains pragmatic about the chance.
"First things first, just put yourself in the shop window and put in a few good performances and make it tough for them to say no. But, first things first, play at the club level and go from there."
Patterson-Sewell hopes to be in goal when Gil Vicente open their season on August 13 at home against Académica.