By Aaron Tomich/NPSL.com
Bonds, cohesion, harmony and structure all are aspects of one word: chemistry. In soccer, those concepts are ones that owners, general managers and coaches all desire for their teams throughout a given season.
In the case of five players for FC Buffalo in NPSL, chemistry is beyond prevalent.
Over the past three years, a combination of Jordan Acevedo, Josh Tufino, Jayson Repine, Rodrigo Almeida and Nuukele Gboe have all played together, not just for FC Buffalo’s squad in the summer, but also alongside each other for Niagara University come college soccer season.
“Playing in the summer is a lot of fun for a lot of different reasons, but when you get to play with your guys, it adds even more fun to it,” said Acevedo, a graduate student center back at NU. “We’re getting better during the summer, no matter what, because we’re playing, and it adds to that chemistry when we’ve got five guys starting and playing well together. Then, we carry it over to the Niagara season.”
These five teammates have discovered over the last few years that one of the best parts about being on two different teams throughout the year has a positive impact on their play.
“When we [the five teammates] play for FC Buffalo, we are together all day compared to the other players, who might have full time jobs or other commitments,” said Repine, who is a forward at NU but switches to defense for Buffalo. “So we are able to spend nights hanging out with each other and build that chemistry off the field.
Repine mentioned that the off-field chemistry helps a lot when it comes to the connections on the pitch during the match. He said that it allows them to be tougher with each other on the field because they have built a strong level of trust in each other. Gboe also emphasized the lesson of taking games one at a time and therefore staying hot – something he has learned from playing with Buffalo, then has brought back to NU.
It is never easy to build a long lasting relationship between players, and that is something that FC Buffalo co-owner Nick Mendola sees as a key element to building a program that can find success.
“These are guys that love the game, and they love each other,” said Mendola. “You’ve got Jordan [Acevedo], he’s their leader and elder on the team, so to speak. Then you’ve got Jayson Repine who is as young as anybody in that NU crew and people just gravitate towards this guy.”
Mendola emphasized that when the on-field chemistry is there, it can be seen a few layers deeper that in totality, the game means so much to these players, and that this love they collectively hold also radiates onto each other, creating a strong bond on the team.
Rodrigo Almeida, a third-year forward at NU, hails from Lisbon, Portugal. His connection to FC Buffalo comes from his teammates as well as his desire to stay in top form during his collegiate offseason. He said that Mendola has had a positive impact on development as a player and a person.
“I admire the passion that he [Mendola] has for this sport,” said Almeida. “Soccer, here, isn’t close to what it is like back home, so I respect the effort he puts into soccer here in the U.S. and I’m glad someone [like Nick] in this country is trying to grow the sport.”
“I want to play for that guy,” said midfielder graduate student Josh Tufino about Mendola. “He cares about his guys and what we say. If he’s willing to listen to me, then I want to listen to him.”
A personal connection between player and owner is what makes a huge difference, says each of the five players. Each man expressed, in their own way, how playing under Mendola for FC Buffalo has added unique elements of their gameplay through multiple ways.
They’ve learned the importance of how each game matters in a compact, limited schedule. Each has received advice from other teammates who are at different points in life. Many of them expressed how playing for FC Buffalo gives them a unique opportunity to play with more freedom, which in turn, widens their perspective on things like tactics and the flow of each match.
“We’re fortunate that we get Niagara [University] kids who ask questions a lot and want to learn more,” said Mendola. “This is a special group of guys who makes you want to go the extra mile, and if you’re already going the extra mile, they make you want to find more miles.”
Credit is given where credit is due. Mendola recognizes the bond between FC Buffalo and Niagara University, and praises the effort of NU head coach Bill Boyle for how he develops his players, both in their soccer skills along with their personal character traits.
Because that connection is strong, there has been a success that was created and can be sustained for both FC Buffalo and Niagara University for many years to come.
Photo Credit Ric Kruszynski/ISNSoccer.com