SOCCER: Falcons trio pitching in for Sockers FC

Gustavo Barroso and Rodrigo Rogatto have been teammates since they were 13-years old.

The duo grew up playing soccer in Brazil and followed each other through the college ranks, spending time at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa before making their way to UTPB.

They’ll continue to suit up for the same team, taking the pitch for Sockers FC this season.

The Sockers are set to kick off the 2021 campaign against FC Brownsville at 7:30 p.m. Saturday  at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland.

Barroso and Rogatto will be accompanied by former UTPB teammate Alfonso Aragon, who was the Falcons’ starting goalkeeper in the 2021 season.

“It’s a great opportunity to be with the guys that I played with in college,” Barroso said. “I think we have a lot of things to put in the game to make a good statement.”

Sockers FC head coach Dave Jacobs became interested in the UTPB players after hearing about them through Falcon assistant coach Victor Domingues.

Jacobs, who will make his head coaching debut for the Sockers this year, plans on having his team play an “attractive style” of soccer with an emphasis on pressing high and keeping the ball in the opponent’s half as much as possible.

Rogatto said the new system fits with his style of play, as he wants to have the ball with him at all times instead of waiting for it to come to him.

Barroso believes he and his UTPB teammates have an advantage because of the chemistry they have.

The forward said he knows where Aragon and Rogatto will place the ball when they are looking for him on the field.

Barroso and Rogatto combined for three goals last season for the Falcons, with the former providing four assists over eight games played.

Both earned Lone Star Conference Third Team selections at the end of the campaign.

During his time in the net for UTPB, Aragon has recorded 139 saves and allowed 47 goals in two years.

The Huesca, Spain native showed up when his team needed him, amassing 20 of his 45 saves in UTPB’s final three games last season.

“It’s nice to have people that know you to feel like you’re in a family sooner,” Aragon said. “The way we play helps here and I think we’ll fit really well with the Sockers.”

Before the season opener, Jacobs said the team was only able to get in a few days worth of training sessions in.

Even with that, he was impressed with what the UTPB players brought to the table, adding that they have adapted well.

“We’re always looking for local talent and Victor recommended these guys for me,” Jacobs said. “I was happy to take them in and they are quality players.”

The Sockers will play a 10-game schedule this year, with half of those matches taking place at home and the other half on the road.

General manager Jeff VonHolle is excited to get his team back after last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His team is set to play in the National Premier Soccer League’s Lone Star Conference against seven other teams.

The top four will advance to playoffs at the end of the year.

“It’s going to be a tough conference, I would say top to bottom it’s probably the toughest conference in the NPSL,” VonHolle said. “By the time the last game rolls around, we’re probably going to end up seeing six to seven quality teams of those eight teams.”

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