SO SAMBA FC’S working roster includes the following players: Felipe Herera Nieto, Diego Diaz Barrera, Jose Jesus Campos, Jorge Ramo, Rogelio Hernandez Avalos, Emmanuel Aguil-era, Raul Marquez, Florencio Lulo Bazam, Jose Luiz Hernandes, Jesus Eliaz Guerrero, Rober-to Busto, Braulio Garcia, Gerardo Gana Delgado, Cheno Barujas, Alberto Munoz and, not pictured, Santiago Galinato, Rigoberto Neymar Villanueva and Rafael Mondragon.
SO Samba FC has a lot of work to do between now and next spring, but the newly formed, Hood River-based team is aiming to make an impression in the 2014 National Premiere Soccer League season. NPSL is a nationwide league of semi-pro adult men teams divided into Northeast, South, Midwest and West regions, with a regional season running from the spring through early summer before a national championship tournament.
With more than three decades of soccer experience, including as a professional mid-forward for the Sao Paulo club, Corinthians, Thiago Samba moved to town this spring and quickly saw the potential to start a team with a handful of the many talented players in the area.
“We had about 25 guys show up at tryouts, and we chose 16 of them,” Samba said last week. “There is a lot of soccer talent around here and the team has potential. We will need some special pieces to really make things happen, but we have a good base to start with.”
As an expansion team, SO Samba FC will likely play in the West Region, with 11 other teams in California — a travel situation Samba realizes will be a challenge.
“We are going to have to travel a lot, which won’t be easy,” he said. “But we have the potential to be a great team if we can get guys to commit. I have big dreams and want to pursue big things: that’s why I’m trying to make this happen.”
Samba, a Brazilian native who moved to Hood River in March with his wife and two boys, brings the fast-paced, technical and flashy brand of his country’s soccer style to the team, which he says will be a good mix with the background the players already have. He’ll have between now and March to solidify the team roster and train as much as possible before the start of the NPSL season in April.
“The players can learn a lot between now and then,” Samba said. “My goal for the first year is to make the playoffs, and to make a solid team that represents the level of soccer we have in this community.”
n The team is currently looking for a home field to play on and sponsorship opportunities. Any local business interested being a sponsor is asked to contact Samba at 541-708-1112 or firstname.lastname@example.org