NICK LEYDEN - Monday, December 26, 2011
Despite not being part of Caleb Porter's recent training camp in Florida, Tony Taylor is hopeful of making the Olympic roster.
While 30 of his U-23 counterparts continued preparations in Lakeland Ranch for the March qualification tournament, Taylor remained in Portugal to suit up for Atlético CP's final games of 2011.
Midway through his first season with the Lisbon club, Taylor feels strong about both the team's prospects and his individual performance.
Atlético currently sit in second place in the Liga Orangina, as a three game winless skid has followed a remarkable start in which they dropped just one of their opening nine games.
In spite of the recent slide Taylor and crew are not panicking.
"I still believe we have the right formula," the Florida product told YA. "All teams go through ups and downs. It's part of the game, part of the season. But we are still confident and still believe we can bounce back from this," he added.
Much of Atlético's success to this point can be attributed to a miserly defense led by fellow Yank Caleb Patterson-Sewell, though Taylor laments that at times Coach João de Deus' tactics can also limit his looks at goal.
"Our team plays a 4-3-3, but it is more like a 4-5-1. It's a very defensive style of play that is not designed for us to score a lot of goals, so it has minimized my scoring chances," he explained. "I believe I have done really well with the role João de Deus wants me to play, but I would like to have a more offensive role."
Despite the extra defensive responsibilities, Taylor has managed to notch two goals as Atlético's first-choice right winger, including a highlight reel tally against Aves a week before Christmas.
The former Jacksonville University Dolphin also displayed his attacking capabilities during the November U-23 camp in Germany, in which he scored one goal against Bochum and set up another.
As he explained to YA, even though he would prefer a more traditional forward's role Taylor is determined to capitalize on his time at Atlético and believes continued hard work at the club will keep him in Porter's Olympic plans.
"Playing for Atlético has helped me grow as a player. It's my dream to play for the US national team and make the Olympic team. I believe my experience at Atlético has brought me closer to reaching those goals," he said.
"I'm going to work hard and give my best to reach my dreams," concluded a determined Taylor.