NICK LEYDEN - Sunday, February 5, 2012
Fresh off a transfer back to league leading Estoril and a successful camp with Caleb Porter's U-23 squad, Tony Taylor has reason to be optimistic for 2012.
Having been loaned to fellow Liga Orangina team Atlético CP for the first half of the Portuguese season, Taylor was recalled by his parent club over the winter holidays.
"It was understood in my loan agreement that they would have that option so it was not much of a surprise to me," he recently explained to YA.
Os Canarinhos currently sit five points clear of their nearest promotion challenger, and Taylor is excited by the prospect of being a key figure in their pursuit of the first division.
"They are fighting for promotion at this point, so I'm ready for the challenge," he said. "I'm ready to play any role the coach has for me to help the team reach the goal of promotion to the first division."
The Florida native, who scored three goals as a right winger for a conservative Atlético side, is also embracing the fundamental change in approach from his old team to the new one.
"I am an attack-minded player and the team plays that style, so I fit well with the team and the coach's mentality," he said.
Taylor played the previous season at Estoril primarily as a substitute, scoring four goals in eighteen appearances.
With dreams of future matchups against historic clubs like Sporting, Porto and Benfica a legitimate possibility, the U-23 striker also has an opportunity to establish himself at the international level in the upcoming months.
Taylor has been called to two recent U-23 camps and has positioned himself well for a spot on the Olympic qualifying roster by scoring goals against Bochum in November as well as Alajuela in Costa Rica just last week.
Having returned to Portugal to prepare for Estoril's upcoming games against Paços de Ferreira and Portimonense, the attacker feels strong about his performance in the most recent camp as well as the coaching staff.
"The U-23 camp went very well. I enjoyed training and playing with the coaching staff and team and I am happy with how I performed," he said.
"Caleb Porter is a good coach and it was great to finally meet him this camp. He focuses a lot on ball possession, high pressure and being aggressive in the attacking and defending side of the ball, which is very important," he added.
The 22 year old also feels that the string of camps is starting to bear fruit and that by the time the Olympic qualifiers roll around the team will be a unified force.
"We have been working diligently to follow the coach's style and the chemistry as a whole is starting to come together and that is very positive," Taylor stated.
Between Estoril and the U-23s Taylor knows 2012 could be a banner year for his career, and could result in his two greatest achievements yet on the field.
"This is a very important year for me," he said bluntly. "I worked very hard to come to this point. I'm very focused not only to reach promotion, but to work my way to earn my spot on the U-23 qualifying roster and eventually make the Olympic team."
"That will be an honor," concluded Taylor.