The following interview was conducted by guest writer Mark Bay and is part of a longer interview that can be found here. Mark is launching a website to cover soccer in Austin called KickerATX.
FC Dallas is set to take on I-35 rival Austin Bold at Toyota Stadium on Sunday, February 9th. I myself am an Austin-based FC Dallas fan (there are literally dozens of us) and I took the opportunity to sit down with Roberto Silva, GM of the Austin Bold, to discuss the game, the partnership, Francis Atuahene, Ema Twumasi, and Brecc Evans. It was a great conversation and you can read the whole shebang at my site Kicker ATX.
As you’ll read in the interview, Roberto is quite familiar with FC Dallas going back to his days in his native Brazil at Athletico Paranaense.
Fun fact: Roberto Silva almost signed David Ferreira to the Austin Aztex in 2015, but Paul Dalglish decided against it. What could have been!
The Bold will kick off their season on Sunday, Feb 9th, against FC Dallas. What are you expecting from the match?
It’s going to be an interesting one because it’s the 3rd or 4th preseason match for Dallas and for us, it’s our first. Actually Luchi asked me this week if we could make it a longer game. They’re at the point where they can actually add 30 or 40 minutes to the game and unfortunately, I said I can’t. I’m still short on my squad and it’s literally our second week of real preseason which is very early for a game. I consider this a fitness game for us. I don’t think there’s any result we are expecting from this game.
Last season, FC Dallas loaned Francis Atuahene and Ema Twumasi to the Bold. This season Brecc Evans is making his way to Austin. Can you comment on the relationship between Austin Bold and FC Dallas?
I’ve always had huge admiration for the Hunt family and FC Dallas. I worked with Atlético Paranaense in the past and I was involved with FC Dallas and Atlético during their partnership. I had a very close relationship with Fernando Clavijo and [Luiz] Muzzi and when André [Zanotta] came in, another close relationship. Good guy, good mindset, I think he’s going to be able to continue creating and moving forward in the same style of Clavijo and Muzzi in the past.
It makes a lot of sense for us to be close to FC Dallas. I’ve been involved in partnerships in the past and I gotta say, it was amazing how the front office and the coaching staff in Dallas got together with our front office and coaching staff to find solutions for the challenges that came up for us. So we’re excited! We know we can grow further and Dallas is happy with us and we’re happy with them. It couldn’t be better.
Is there an official partnership?
No, I don’t think we need one. One of our philosophies here is to show your beliefs through your actions, not your words. A partnership on paper doesn’t mean anything without action. We decided that we don’t need a formal partnership, we need to make things happen. And I think we did.
For example, the stay here for both Francis and Ema was great for them. I would say it was amazing for Ema. We worked with him during the season and got him to a place whereby the end of the season he was clearly the best player in our squad. When he came here, he actually came as the second man to Francis so it was great to see where he went.
Then André [Zanotta] and Luchi [Gonzalez] are telling us, “Brecc is a good guy. Take Brecc,” and we talked to him and he’s very excited to be here because of everything he heard we did last year. When the good word starts to get out among the small world of GMs and technical directors, there are only good things to come.
Considering Brecc’s a 20-year-old kid from Dallas, I bet he’s excited to live in Austin!
It’s easy to sell Austin! But even if it was the best city in the whole world and we had a team environment that was not good, the Dallas players would already know it. Francis and Ema would have brought that information back. No matter how good the city is, if your work environment is not good, you don’t want to be there. I think it just shows we’re doing the right things and we’re on the right path.
Let’s talk about Brecc Evans as a player. What does he bring to the Bold this season?
He helps us balance out the age. It’s important for us to have a balance of experienced players and young promising guys. Brecc told me he is so excited to go into the season and get learning and get development and I just love that mindset.
Can you talk about his playstyle a bit?
Well, his playing shows it off. He’s very strong, very technical, and a tall guy. We were just on the field looking at him and I think he’s going to be the tallest one on the squad this year. Plays well with his feet, plays well with the head. I think we will help him develop the things he needs to develop. I think he will leave the year here reading the game a bit better and improve on small things. We’re excited. I think it’s going to be good for him and good for us.
You can’t ask for better mentors than Jermaine Taylor and Edson Braafheid.
That’s it! And it’s our deal and philosophy with those experienced players that they should embrace the young guys and help them. That happens naturally and we don’t even have to ask for it anymore. You see those things on a daily basis.
You know sometimes we assign the young players what we call a “godfather.” We have a young local forward, Beto Avila, and André Lima is officially his “godfather.” We tell them this is the guy that’s going to be taking care of you and you see them together after training talking and learning. I think that’s important and it’s part of our model of a balance of experienced players and promising talent.
Does Brecc have a “godfather”?
I think he will have one soon, but like you said, we have so many defenders with experience that I don’t think he needs one specific. We have Jermaine, Edson, Amobi Okugo. Don’t forget Fabien Garcia with European experience. I can even tell you, here’s your scoop, Gustavo Rissi is being brought back on loan.
I got my scoop!
[Laughs.] There are so many different styles, experiences, and backgrounds on our team that there’s no way you can’t have a good learning experience.
Roberto, it was so cool to talk to you! Thanks for your time!
Come and follow us. We have our home opener on March 7th against New Mexico United. Come and see us!