BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, September 20, 2011
As FC Nurnberg's U-19 team moves forward into the second month of their season, Antonio Matarazzo has broken into the team's starting lineup and is providing a boost to the team's central defense.
Matarazzo, 18, had a trail with the club arranged through his brother, Pellegrino, who is an assistant coach with FC Nurnberg's U-23 team. The younger Matarazzo impressed on his trial and was invited to come back and join the team for the start of the current season.
"Last December [Pellegrino]was able to help me get a trial with the U19 team," Matarazzo told YA from Nurnberg. "I was here for 10 days and it went well. A few weeks later they told me that they wanted me. I began here on July 1 and it's been going really well so far."
Matarazzo is a native of Bergen County, New Jersey and is the son of Italian immigrants and thereby a dual citizen. In recent years he developed within the New York Red Bulls youth system.
It is the same system that has produced many prominent Americans players such as Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, and Michael Bradley. Many of these players have cited the Red Bulls as being an important part of their development and Matarazzo agrees.
"The Red Bulls were great," Matarazzo stated. "It was very competitive and very professional. Every day at training was a battle. It really helped me in terms of my development. It was a good year playing with them."
Matarazzo is naturally left footed and played as a left back for the Red Bulls but his coaches at FC Nurnberg have moved him to central defense. He has enjoyed the position switch and it has played to his strengths as a defender likes to play out of the back.
"When I was with the Red Bulls last year, I was a left back but here I am playing a central defender," Matarazzo said of the switch. "My strengths are that I like to play out of the back. My left foot helps me out a little bit. Right now I am trying to get better defensively one on one."
While his season is thus far going well, Matarazzo's future with FC Nurnberg is far from settled. Earlier this year, he was accepted into New York's prestigious Columbia University and had plans to attend.
The school permits students, if they wish, to defer the start of college for a year and Matarazzo is using this deferral to play for Nurnberg this season. In the meantime he has taken steps to preserve his NCAA eligibility.
Matarazzo will indeed be at a crossroads in the coming months if he succeeds at Nurnberg. On one hand, he has the ability to attend one of the world's best academic schools. On the other hand, if he receives an offer to continue at Nurnberg, he will have the opportunity to pursue soccer elite club in Germany.
"It would definitely be a very difficult situation," Matarazzo explained. "If things work out here I would have great options. Columbia has a great program and it's excellent academically but if things work out here I would definitely take it into consideration. Right now I am just trying to develop as a player and make the most out of this experience."
Like his brother, Matarazzo is very ambitious in his pursuit of a soccer career regardless of how this season turns out in Germany. In addition to Nurnberg, he is aiming for a spot on the US U-20 national team as they prepare for the start of 2013 World Cup cycle.
"Long term I would love to make soccer my career professionally," Matarazzo concluded. "I would love to get a callup to the US U-20s but right now I still have a long way to go but it's a great step to be here. If I [stay in the starting lineup] getting called up would be great. It's definitely a goal."