Simon Rawnsley and Byron Rivera are both near the top of the NPSL in scoring, with Rawnsley tied with Lansing’s Rafa Mentzingen for second place and Rivera in sole possession of third. While the two players are scoring in bunches, their squads are in different stages of development, with different expectations for their seasons.
Simon Rawnsley is in his third year with CD Aguiluchos USA, and has finished with 17 goals and 13 goals in his first two seasons respectively, tying for the NPSL Golden Boot twice. Rawnsley is certainly on pace for more awards in 2017. Through 11 games, Rawnsley sits at nine goals for the year, but has noticed in increase in defensive pressure and attention.
“A goal a game is what I expect from myself,” Rawnsley said, “but now it’s more an awareness of having to try even harder, because the other players know who I am now.”
Even though he has noticed increase pressure on him, the British forward has added multiple assists to his scoring totals so far this year. The attention on Rawnsley has opened up goals from others, which has helped lead CD Aguiluchos USA to an 8-0-1 start to the season, good enough for first in the Golden Gate Conference with 25 points.
According to CD Augiluchos USA Chariman Roger Amaya, Rawnsley brings a number of talents to the table, with Amaya crediting both his technical skill and strong work ethic. Amaya summarizess Rawnsley and his great year: “Very good person, very good season. He enjoys being on the ball and on the field with his teammates.”
For Rawnsley, the success of the team always comes first, and compares their success to another Bay Area sports team.
“We’re in the town of the (Golden State) Warriors,” Rawnsley said. “There’s no ego on that team and we’re quite that way as well. It’s not about one player it’s about the team, it doesn’t matter who scores the goals.”
From here, Rawnsley is focused on attaining what the Warriors recently claimed: a championship.
“We’ve bonded as a team and we play together the core of the team has been here for two to three years now; we’re used to playing together and we know each other,” Rawnsley said. “Since the beginning of season our goal has been to win out, and we want to keep this winning mentality going.”
For another one of the league’s top scorers, the focus is not on improving upon a previously established core, it’s establishing a club’sfirst core.
Byron Rivera, a striker for City of Angels FC, has been a force in the club’s inaugural season. So far in 2017, Rivera has scored half of his team’s goals this season with eight. For Rivera, the chance to make his imprint on the club is an important distinction.
“It’s great to be a part of something new,” Rivera said. “You get to see the start and the way it starts to become better, so I’m really happy to be a part of the club.”
City of Angels FC assistant coach Christopher Kotoyan is certainly happy to have Rivera on the squad.
“Byron is a very talented player, who’s a goal scoring machine,” Kotoyan said. “Almost everything he touches goes into the back of the net.”
Rivera’s goal-scoring ability was on full display against Albion SC PROS, where Rivera scored an incredible bicycle kick goal on his way to a hat trick against Albion.
“Oh my gosh, it was great, it felt amazing scoring that goal,” Rivera said. “I got to hear the other fans from Albion applaud that goal as well, it was amazing.”
Though the squad has had trouble finding results in their inaugural season, Rivera has seen improvement and hopes to see even more to close out the year.
“I want to be able to look back and see how we bettered ourselves from the beginning to the end of the season,” Rivera said. “And we’ve already moved our way up.”
As for his personal goals for the season, Rivera wants to keep scoring them.
“I never thought I would be one of the top scorers in the NPSL,” Rivera said. “But my goal as of now is score as many as I can over the last three games to finish at the top.”
While their respective teams are in different places of development, with these two forwards leading the way, both CD Aguiluchos USA and City of Angels FC have bright futures, and lots of goals, ahead.