NICK LEYDEN - Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Though the Portuguese season has just drawn to a close, Estoril striker Tony Taylor says he does not intend to take the summer off.
The Traffic Sports client is determined to train hard throughout the offseason and put himself in position to earn a starting spot when the next edition of Liga Vitalis kicks off in August.
"Everybody, coaches and staff, were pleased with how I improved and how I did well at the end of the season," he recently told YA. "I showed people what I can do. I would come in for like 30 minutes and score. So hopefully next season I can work hard in preseason and try to get a starting position."
When the former U-20 striker arrived in the Portuguese resort town of Estoril after a winter transfer, he found it difficult to immediately crack the roster.
Os Canarinhos were in a battle to escape the relegation race and Coach Manuel Gomes, better known as Neca, preferred to utilize his more experienced players.
Taylor's initial lack of playing time, however, was not a result of struggling with the transition to professional soccer in Portugal.
"It's a higher level," said the Jacksonville product following his final game of the season. "I think it's more physical, and a little quicker, but I didn't need much time. I adjusted pretty well from the beginning."
While he did not have any first team opportunities to prove his adjustment, Taylor did star in the Liga Intercalar, the Portuguese reserve competition in which teams from all divisions field teams.
Taylor featured as a cornerstone of the Estoril attack in the tournament, scoring a decisive penalty in their semifinal victory over powerhouse Benfica, as well as starting in the victorious championship game against Paços de Ferreira and earning his first European hardware.
Taylor's good play combined with a rash of injuries towards season's end finally provided the 20 year old with a chance to make his mark on the first team.
He made his league debut as a late substitute against Penafiel on April 18th, and followed that up a week later with a goal against Aves that secured a 1-0 victory and Estoril's place in the Liga Vitalis for 2010-2011.
The final two games of the season also saw Taylor play significant minutes as Neca's primary attacking substitute, including a 30 minute shift away to Fátima in which he scored his second goal of the campaign in only three brief appearances.
Despite his superb strike rate, Taylor never featured in the starting lineup, a fact that has only strengthened his resolve to work even harder.
"Every player wants to be a starter," added Taylor. "But I know that's part of the process, getting yourself integrated into the lineup little by little. I just have to work every day for it. I feel it will come with time with my improvement."
For the summer, Taylor is not yet positive what his handlers have planned, but he is expecting at some point to train with Miami FC, the USSF team also operated by Traffic Sports.
"We're working everything out with Traffic right now," he concluded. "I'm not 100% sure but it looks like I'm going to go train down in Miami with Miami FC."
Either way, the former Jacksonville University Dolphin is looking forward to his first full season in Portugal next year, this time, hopefully, as a starter.