NICK LEYDEN - Friday, September 16, 2011
After his move to newly promoted Atlético, forward Tony Taylor is excited about his role and the team's potential.
With two seasons in Portugal under his belt at Estoril, where his playing time was erratic despite a serviceable strike rate, Taylor felt ready to move on and find a team where he would enjoy regular minutes.
"I had already decided Estoril was not a good fit for me after two seasons of little minutes on the field," the Florida native recently told YA, adding, "I needed to move on and wasn't willing to risk another year sitting on the bench."
New rival Atlético seemed a logical destination as they were in need of extra firepower after ascending to the Liga Orangina, and had been tracking Taylor since an impressive scrimmage last season.
"I knew they had just moved up to Liga Orangina," he said. "And I was also told they had been interested in me for a while after I played in an exhibition game against them last season when they were in the Second Division B."
Taylor was a second half substitute in Atlético's only league game since his arrival, an away win at Santa Clara which moved them to first place. But he is hoping to be a regular starter, potentially beginning with the home game against Trofense on September 18.
The Traffic Sports client has been happy with training so far and is optimistic about the coaching staff's plan to take advantage of his skill set.
"The head coach, João de Deus, and the assistant coaches have a lot of confidence in me and I can already tell he is going to be helping me and using me a lot this season. The team plays a 4-3-3 and I am playing as the outside right forward. The coach wants me to use my strengths taking players on with speed to score and get crosses in to help the attack," he explained.
Atlético was not the only team interested in acquiring Taylor this offseason, though, as he also spent a week on trial with Leeds United in August after spending the summer regaining full health in Florida.
As he told YA, despite a strong trial performance the teams were not able to reach a deal, potentially because of work permit concerns.
"I stayed there for a week and played very well," he said. "The coaches gave me great reviews but I did not sign. I know there were some issues with my European passport and English work permit situation and it was not known for sure if I would be able to play right away. So I'm sure that could have been a factor," added the 22 year-old.
In the end though, Taylor is happy to have returned to Portugal because of his familiarity with the league.
"I feel very comfortable in the league seeing as it is going to be my third season, and I'm very familiar with the style of play and the opponents we will be facing. The transition has been very smooth and I feel at home here," he said.
After three games Atlético find themselves a surprise leader, but like fellow Yank Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Taylor recognizes the challenges as a team and an individual.
"The mindset of the team right now is to win each time we step on the field. I feel we can do something big this season but we cannot get ahead of ourselves and we have to take it one game at a time," he said.
"Right now I am focused on winning games and I'm going to do everything I can to win. I know the future will take care of itself as long as I do my part each day in training and in each game."