NICK LEYDEN - Thursday, November 11, 2010
After finishing his first season in Portugal scoring two goals in his team's final four games and playing his way into a regular roster spot, there certainly were high hopes for Tony Taylor heading into the 2010-2011 campaign.
A turbulent offseason in Estoril, however, put Taylor in a position to have to prove himself again after the club welcomed a brand new coaching staff from Brazil as well as a nearly completely overhauled roster.
The changes seem to have rejuvenated the team, though, as Os Canarinhos have lost just once in their first seven league games, good enough for second place in the Liga Orangina and setting them up to make a serious run at promotion.
Taylor himself believes that the improvements are a direct result of the attitude change that came with all the new faces.
"This year our team and coaches have more of a winning mentality when it comes to our training and games," Taylor recently told YA. "Training every day at 100 percent on the field and in the gym has really reflected in our play and the teams results. I know it's a long season and there are plenty of more games but I feel if we continue with the same mentality and hard work we have a great chance of moving up to first division this year."
For Taylor's part, the roster changes dramatically increased his competition for playing time, notably through the additions of the Brazilian striking trio of Alex Afonso, Paulo Sérgio and veteran Clodoaldo.
While coach Vinícius Eutrópio has generally preferred to start Afonso alongside Flamengo loanee Paulo Sérgio, the Jacksonville University product has consistently been Os Canarinhos' primary offensive substitute.
Taylor has taken advantage of his super-sub role, scoring three goals in limited action to become the team's second leading scorer in all competitions.
While he will continue to work hard in whatever role Eutrópio deems best for the team, the striker hopes that his continued success off the bench will eventually force the staff to give him some starts.
"I have been pleased with my performance with the chances I have been given, especially in the short amount of playing time," continued the Florida native. "Coming in off the bench is always hard but I have made sure to be prepared and focused to make the most out of whatever chance I'm given."
"I am always wanting more though and don't want to settle with where I am at right now. I want to keep on scoring goals and making things happen so the coaches won't really have a choice and will have to play me more," he added.
Another reason for Taylor's success this season may be the added comfort of having close friends Bryan Arguez and Greg Garza on the roster. In addition, Gale Agbossoumonde, a fellow Traffic Sports client currently without a club has also been living in Estoril and training with Os Canarinhos.
"Bryan, Greg and Gale are doing well," concluded Taylor. "They're in training everyday working hard. We are all close and make sure to stick together. It's cool to have other Americans on the team. [It] makes things easier."
Regardless of what role Taylor continues to plays for Estoril, there is no doubt that number seven's contributions will be critical if they are going to make a true challenge for promotion to Portugal's top flight.