NICK LEYDEN - Friday, August 31, 2012
Despite spending only the first four years of his life in the United States Steven Silva Rodrigues makes clear his affinity for his country of birth.
The Leixões defender was born in Massachusetts to Portuguese parents, and although he considers Portugal his home he also feels a definite connection with this side of the Atlantic.
"I identify more with Portugal. I've lived here since I was four. My whole life has been here, but my feelings for the US are strong," he recently told YA.
"I can say I'm Portuguese-American," he added with a smile.
The 27 year old is a veteran of Portugal's second and third divisions having played for several clubs in the north of the country, notably Boavista and Arouca, before joining Leixões for this season.
Throughout his career Steven, as he is known in Portugal, has watched with particular interest as other Yanks have tried their hand in the Portuguese leagues and has come away impressed by at least one in particular.
"I've never spoken with any of them but I follow the careers of all the Americans playing in Portugal," he said.
"I played against Tony Taylor and I think he is physically strong and has great potential. I think he will be one of the revelations of the league," the right back went on to explain.
In addition to tracking his fellow Americans in Portugal, Steven also pays close attention to the US national team and would be excited to represent the stars and stripes if the possibility ever arose.
"I follow American soccer with great curiosity, especially in the World Cup. I always root for them to win and I think they've done well. I would like to play in the US jersey someday. It would be a great honor for me," said Steven.
"My favorite player is Donovan, but I also like Tony Taylor. I think he will have a great future," he emphasized again.
For now though Steven will be concentrating on earning promotion to the first division for Leixões.
So far this season he has played every minute as Leixões has won three of its first four league games, good enough for a second place tie. Steven also earned an additional three starts in the Taça da Liga first round.
The outside defender has been an important part of their success, helping hold opponents to just a single goal combined through the four games.
"Leixoes has a strong defense, which is one of our main weapons. Tactically it's a good team that knows what to do with the ball. If Leixoes continues to fight with the dedication shown so far, we'll manage a lot more victories," he explained. "The effort of the team and the fans' support are our main weapons."
Steven and company will next lineup at home against last place Freamunde on 9/2.