Buzz around Rozzano for FC Buffalo
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • January 08, 2013 @ 2:23pm
In soccer, attackers are a special breed. The temptation to push flair above substance is great—from a young age, blossoming strikers dream of ripping the perfect side-volley, daintily chipping the keeper or smashing a 20-yard shot into the “upper-90” of the net.
Little attention is paid to developing a sense of awareness on the pitch, understanding the ability to play off of teammates and make runs at the appropriate times into the right space. Soccer IQ is not often very high in forwards.
Fortunately for the FC Buffalo Blitzers, University at Albany freshman Anthony Rozzano, who attended the club’s open tryout in December, is a different breed. Although his red hair may suggest otherwise, he’s more substance than flash—the Webster Schroeder High School graduate (Rochester) paced the Great Danes in assists (four) and total points (eight), all as a 5’10, 150-pound first-year player.
Being thrown into the fire accelerated Rozzano’s maturation as a player, though, even if the circumstances were a little fortuitous.
“I got lucky,” Rozzano admitted. “I started every game and was leading the team in goals and assists. I didn’t have to sit out a year—I just got into it and got bigger and stronger.”
Rozzano’s head coach, Trevor Gorman, praised his freshman’s commitment and work rate.
“Anthony’s a very earnest, hard-working player,” Gorman explained. “He will not be outworked by anyone, and he’s competitive and passionate about winning, and I think that’s been noticed by his teammates and coaches.”
The local NPSL team, FC Buffalo is no stranger to luring players down the I-90 to play summer ball in the Nickel City, as midfielders Josh Faga and Krystian Witkowski, forward Mike Reidy and defender Jason Gaylord all hail from the 585 area code. It was a Webster Schroeder assistant coach—who just happens to have his USSF “A” coaching license—who pointed Rozzano to the Blitzers.
“One of my old coaches, Paul Valenti, told me about that [FC Buffalo was] starting up,” Rozzano said following the FC Buffalo tryout. “I’m only a freshman in college, and I have nothing else to play in the summer, and I’ve heard if you want to get better, [Buffalo’s] a good place to play.”
Rozzano’s fit with the Blitzers seemed snug, too, as new head coach Brendan Murphy was quite familiar with the youngster’s body of work.
“[Rozzano] reached out to me,” Murphy explained. “I know him very well because I coached him at ODP either two or three years ago. I recruited him to come to UB, but he ended up choosing Albany and had an amazing year there. When he played against us at UB, he was the best player on their team—the most dangerous player, he really controlled the play.”
Despite the compliments, the Great Dane freshman noted how intense the pace of his first FC Buffalo experience was, a two-hour session where Rozzano slotted both in the center of the midfield and on the left flank in the 11 v. 11 portion.
“It’s faster, quicker—you really need to know what you’re doing with the ball, otherwise you’re going to get in trouble,” he said. With the no-nonsense tackling of the Walter brothers and the quickness of Pat Zelko, Rozzano is smart to be on his toes at all times.
Rozzano thrives in these pressure situations, displaying awareness beyond his years and well-drilled fundamentals that keep him a step ahead of his opponents. In addition to Gorman referring to Rozzano as a “very intelligent player,” Murphy elaborated on the freshman’s futbol savvy.
“He possessed the ball well and does the little things—the [movement] off the ball, he communicates, he looks over his shoulder before he gets it every time—that’s exactly the type of guy we’re looking for, and that’s one of the guys I want to sign,” Murphy added. “I think it’s a great fit.”
Because FC Buffalo’s roster picture is still very foggy, it’s unclear where Rozzano fits in with Murphy’s plans. Is he an out-and-out forward? Is he more valuable as an outside mid? Gorman spoke to Rozzano’s versatility and how that increased the Rochester import’s value.
“I think having him play multiple roles definitely gives him an advantage,” Gorman said in a phone call this afternoon. “Sometimes we had to do it out of necessity, but other times [we moved him around] to free him up [offensively].”
Before they get too far ahead of themselves, the Blitzers must confirm that the Albany frosh is interested in joining the club, but that doesn’t appear to be a big impediment. (Update at 4 p.m. Tuesday—Rozzano has officially signed as a member of the FC Buffalo Blitzers. Brothers Chris and Ryan Walter have also latched onto the club—Chris’ third season and Ryan’s second).
“[Buffalo’s] only an hour and a half away,” Rozzano said with a shrug, “and it’s a good team and I can’t wait to play on it.”
(Rozzano wears No. 16 in the header photo from Albany Soccer’s website).