Game after games goalkeeper Diego Restrepo has proven to be a key component to this Rowdies team that is in the hunt for the 2013 Fall Season title. Whether it be a game-changing save in the 90th minute or a penalty kick save, the Venezuelan-born keeper has been up to the task.
Restrepo made his first appearance in Ft. Lauderdale on April 27, helping the Rowdies to a 2-1 victory. Since then, he’s had stellar performances to keep this Rowdies team in contention for a spot in the NASL Soccer Bowl in Atlanta.
“After the Spring Season ended, I knew I had more to give,” commented Restrepo. “I trained very hard in the lead up to the Fall Season and I am happy that I have been able to help this team win matches.”
Last year the Rowdies goal was protected by 2012 NASL Best XI keeper Jeff Attinella, who’s excellent 2012 season ended with a dramatic penalty kick save in the Soccer Bowl Championship. This year Restrepo has been up to par with Attinella’s 2012 season, but the goalkeeper stated that the only thing that matters is the championship.
“We all play to win titles and with two weeks remaining we still have a chance to clinch a spot in the match in Atlanta,” said Restrepo. “Receiving individual awards is great, but winning the Soccer Bowl is what we all aspire to do.”
Technical Director Perry Van Der Beck commented on how Restrepo has grown as a player since making his first start in April.
“Diego has grown as a player since his first game against the Strikers. His experience, his game management and his saves have been game-changers. The players and coaches have tremendous confidence in him which helps us come game time.”
The University of Virginia graduate recorded his fifth shutout of the season last Saturday against the San Antonio Scorpions, increasing the home winning streak to four matches.
“It seems that in the last two matches we have improved defensively,” explained Restrepo. “I have plenty of confidence in my defenders and I know they have that same confidence in me. We need to stay concentrated in these last two matches and come away with the remaining six points.The Cosmos have a five-point lead but it is not over yet.”
In order to have a chance to make it to the NASL Soccer Bowl, the Rowdies need to win against Edmonton on Sunday and hope that the Cosmos draw or lose in San Antonio in tonight's match. Tampa Bay will face Edmonton on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET at Clarke Stadium. You can watch the match live by clicking here.