DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Nearly halfway through his first season with German team TuS Koblenz, former UCLA Bruin Matt Taylor is adjusting well to life in Germany's 2nd Bundesliga, enjoying one of the best seasons of his professional career.
Despite joining up with Koblenz only days before the start of the season, Taylor has been vital for his team's offense, starting ten of their 15 games and proving himself as one of their most versatile and dangerous attackers.
"I feel that I have been able to make the adjustment to my new team," Taylor tells YA. "Already this year I have played at the target striker, supporting forward, attacking midfielder, and both on the left and right side."
"I am happy with my contributions to the team this year both statistically and overall play."
With five goals and four assists tallied in his 13 overall league appearances, the Columbus, Ohio native has already bested his personal single-season scoring totals and is showing some of promise which led him to be a Hermann Trophy finalist in 2003.
Even with his on-field success, Koblenz has had a rough ride in recent weeks, with their emphatic 4-1 victory over Rot-Weiss Ahlen two weeks ago being their first win in nearly two months.
"We have had a tough run the last couple of weeks," Taylor explains. "Two of the last five games we had 1-0 leads going into the final ten minutes and we gave up late goals. That's four crucial points that we let go in the final minutes of the games, against both Duisburg and Freiburg, teams that are in the top half of the standings."
"Four points in this part of the season makes a big difference in the standings."
His team's troubles on the field combined with a preseason three-point deduction have seen them fall to a disappointing 16th place. Taylor, however, asserts that their position, at first glance, is misleading.
"Given where we stand in the table, I think that this is an inaccurate reflection of our team's quality and our play," contends the former MLSer. "As you know we have been missing some crucial players on the team this season, one of them being Fatmir Vata who played a big role in our success on Friday."
Taylor readily acknowledges, however, that their chances have been hampered by the stark difference between their home and away records.
"I would say that our biggest problem this year has been playing on the road," Taylor admits. "With the exception of Fürth [a 4-3 loss for Koblenz], scoring goals and getting results has been very tough for us on the road."
The flipside of the coin, on the other hand, has been vital to their survival this season.
"At home we have enjoyed most of our success this year and we have only one loss coming against league leading Mainz."
With half of the season still ahead, Taylor is optimistic about his team's ability to quickly work their way up the standings and challenge some of the top teams in the league.
"When I sit back and think about starting the season minus three points [for the preseason deduction], the amount of injuries that we have sustained, and two tough results giving up late goals in games where we were leading, the team is in a good situation and I feel that we are not far off from making a good run and winning some games in bunches."
Seeing the midseason break quickly approaching, Taylor and his teammates have the short-term goal of carrying some momentum into the winter pause.
"With the final two games before the break, I think that a good goal for our team would be four points, a win and a tie. Sitting with 18 points at the break with all that has gone on this year would be very nice for us."
With their heartbreaking injury time 3-2 loss at FC St. Pauli on Sunday afternoon, Taylor and his teammates will attempt to at least get a final three points for the first half of the season when they host 12th place FC Ingolstadt 04 on Friday evening.