DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Following an impressive season with German 3. Liga team Rot Weiss Ahlen, Matt Taylor is returning to the the 2. Bundesliga after signing a two-year contract with SC Paderborn.
Taylor joined struggling 3. Liga club Ahlen in late-August after a frustrating 2009-10 season with FSV Frankfurt, and proceeded to go on a goalscoring tear which saw the American establish himself as one of the top forwards in the division.
A haul of 15 goals heading into last weekend's round of games earned him a promotion to the next division in the form of a long-term contract with nearby club SC Paderborn.
"Matt has signed a two-year contract with the club," Paderborn press officer Matthias Hack stated.
In the days immediately following the agreement between Taylor and Paderborn, the American surely had his new bosses patting themselves on the back as he proceeded to score a pair of goals for Ahlen in their subsequent game against Erfurt, bringing his season's total to 17, and sparking a comeback which might ultimately save the team from relegation.
The two-year term of the contract represents his longest with a club since he made the move to Germany in 2008 and for Taylor, is the successful fruition of a year of hard work aimed at putting himself back on the radar of 2. Bundesliga clubs.
"So now it is official," Taylor confirmed. "Yes I will be moving on to Paderborn next year. The goal was always to get back to the second league and I am happy that it worked out. "
"My goal this year was to gain some valuable time on the field and prove again to the people in Germany that I had not lost my form while I was on the bench in Frankfurt last year," he continued.
"When I made the decision to sign in Ahlen I hoped at the time that I would be taking one step back to make two steps forward. Now I can say that the risk of dropping a division worked how I had hoped all along."
Taylor is coming into a Paderborn team which is in desperate need to add consistent attacking threats, as they were the worst goalscoring team in the 2. Bundesliga, and additionally are losing their top scorer once the current term is finished.
"Our leading scorer this season Edmond Kapllani was on only loan from FC Augsburg and his contract with us is ending in the summer," Hack explained of the team's early jump to add a striker to the roster. "Since Augsburg have been promoted to the Bundesliga, they will probably want him back with the team, which will create a vacuum with goals for us."
It's not possible to say that we expect Taylor to be an exact replacement for [Kapllani] since they are different players," Hack continues, "but he's shown that he's able to score a lot of goals and we expect that he will be able to help out."
Taylor is also insistent that his successful season in the 3. Liga has sharpened his skills and readied him for the challenge ahead. "I never doubted my qualities as a player while playing in the third league and I have already had success in the 2nd league so I don't have any doubt that I can be successful in Paderborn."
The one-time Chivas USA player is leaving a rather difficult situation at Ahlen, which has seen the team ride a roller coaster of ups and downs involving a still-ongoing fight against relegation that will come down to their last game, a close brush with bankruptcy and a late-season points deduction for their earlier financial problems.
"It has been a very long and exhausting year here in Ahlen dealing with the struggles of the team on the field and financially in the front office," he admits. His ability to shine in spite of the constant struggles has, however, given him the confidence that he can persevere as a player even in the most difficult of situations.
"I am very satisfied to be able to score so many goals on a team that is so low in the [standings]. It can be very difficult for an attacking player to be able to show much when the team is struggling and I am proud of what I have accomplished here."
The one downside to moving up a league is that Taylor will have a short summer, as the mid-July start to the upcoming 2. Bundesliga season means that he will commence training with his new teammates in only a matter of weeks.
"Our pre-season will already begin on June fourth," Hack explained of Paderborn's summer plans. "We have to start so early because the 2. Bundesliga season will already begin three weeks earlier than the 1. Bundesliga, and we need a full six weeks of pre-season training to be ready for the season."
This will be of no concern to their new Yank, who, like any scorer on a hot streak, is eager to get onto the field as much as possible to keep the goals flowing.
"I feel that I have gotten better and better every year of my career," he concludes. "I have come a long, long way since my first years out of college and I intend to continue to learn and get better for however long I play."
Taylor still has one more game remaining with Ahlen, a Saturday-afternoon trip to already-promoted Hansa Rostock. They are currently barely safe with a two-point cushion above the drop zone, however will need a win against the 3. Liga's second-place to assure they avoid relegation to the Regionalliga.