MICHAEL ADUBATO - Friday, October 25, 2019
St. Louis native Eric McWoods, who plays for and scores goals for JK Trans Narva in the Estonia top flight added four more goals to his tally mid-week in an Estonian Cup game clash against Eston Villa II.
McWoods joined the team that plays their home games near the Russian border at the beginning of the year, which is also the beginning of the Estonian season, started off slowly but found his footing and has been one of the team's main goal contributors in the second half of the season.
His four goals contributed to the team's victory where they came out victorious with an American style football score of 21-0.
"It was a very interesting game," the former University of Missouri-Kansas City front man told Yanks Abroad. "Obviously the Estonian Cup is different than many cups in different countries . I guess it was fun to go out there and score four goals in the first half.
"I've never been part of a game like that and I don't even remember in my youth days being part of a game like. I would say that we were pretty clinical, to be honest. It was one of those games where everything was clicking but the opposition wasn't really very strong, so I'm not going to give us all the credit."
He also felt that playing over the weekend and then having another game against a lower division team a few days later allowed the team to keep the momentum of the last game going.
"We had a game on Saturday so having this game on Tuesday was almost like a practice match or even a friendly; so I guess it kept us sharp. Obviously scoring goals like that is very good for the confidence of the attackers, so I'll definitely say it was a fun night to be an attacker."
Being a striker and netting four times in the first 45 minutes, most would have been hungry to keep finding the back of the net after the intermission, but McWoods keeps things in perspective.
"It wasn't a league game and the most important thing is the league and our game on Saturday. I would have liked to play the second half and hopefully score more goals but the main thing is staying healthy and staying sharp for the games that really matter.
Obviously it's fun to score and to create new accolades but at the end of the day its about the safety of the players and remaining fit, as the coach told us. Focusing on league play is a big thing for me, so I didn't mind too much that I didn't play the second half."
Starting his professional career far from home in a country that few Americans have ever heard of, never mind travelled to; the 24-year-old winner of the previous Estonian Cup and a veteran of the Europa Cup competition took a little time settling into the system of his new team and league.
"The first half of the season I just had to adjust myself playing at the professional level, which is obviously different than in college when you only have a three month season," he said. "It was important for me to have that first half of the season where I could kind of adjust. The second half of the season I had personal goals and accolades and I worked hard so I feel that the results show the hard work that I put in training and during training sessions .
When I spoke to McWoods during the summer, he said that he set himself a target of scoring 15 league goals while continuing to improve as the season progressed. The game after Narva was knocked out of the Europa League qualifiers, in his very next game, their number nine scored a hat trick and another couple of goals and was recognized as the league's Player of the Month for July.
"I would definitely say that I'm achieving personal goals. I'm hard on myself and I expect a lot from myself but I'm satisfied and I want to finish the season as strong as possible. We have three games left and I want to go out there and compete and try to score as much as possible and help the team get the results that we need."
Looking back on his first professional season, the young American seemed to not believe that his first year and first season in Europe is almost over.
"It'll be the end of the season in a few weeks. Its crazy just thinking about that because the season just flew by."
Having signed just a one year contract with Narva, McWoods is looking to the future and hoping to find a situation that suits him best.
"There is an option to possibly stay here but there are also options elsewhere. I don't really want to say too much right now. I just want to stay focused on the season and finish strong. I definitely want to move up on the leader board and prove myself in Europe. That's something I think as a youngster growing up watching football, that's something I really would love to do.
Playing in Europe is obviously a dream but moving up and trying to get to the biggest league one day is one of my ultimate goals. I can't really say much at this time; I'll just leave it at that. But I really do appreciate the opportunity just to be over here and playing. It's something that I'm very blessed and grateful for."
Narva Trans will be on the road at Tulevik this weekend before playing their last home game on November 2nd against Tallinna Kalev. Their final game of the season will be away to Kuressaare. As for McWoods, he has scored 13 league goals so far, but will those last few games to achieve his personal goal.