ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 10, 2018) — After three-plus seasons of waiting, Zac Portillos has finally scored his first professional goal.
In terms of the game, the goal itself didn’t carry a ton of weight, just the nightcap in stoppage time of a 5-0 win over the Ottawa Fury FC, but don’t tell Portillos that.
“It was a full emotional blackout,” Portillos said Tuesday morning. “It was really nice. All the guys were really happy for me, so I just felt happy to get my first one.”
The goal was a work of art, with Portillos, a left back by nature, popping up in the box to receive a cross from Leo Fernandes and pop a looping header over Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving and inside the back post for a beautiful finish.
When Portillos got back into the locker room only a few minutes later, his phone was flush with notifications.
“It was probably the most texts and phone calls I’ve had in a while,” he said. “A lot from my family and other friends, so it was really nice to read through those and I’m happy my first goal was for the Rowdies because I’ve been here for a while.”
Portillos turned professional in 2015 after impressing the Rowdies’ coaching staff at an invite-only combine event featuring a field of top college players looking for contracts. The Rowdies ended up signing four players after that combine, Portillos, Marquez Fernandez, Chris Glodack and Verneri Valimaa.
By a serendipitous twist, Fernandez, who now lives in the Baltimore area, just happened to be at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night to watch his friend play. As Portillos celebrated his goal with his teammates, Fernandez was just on the other side of the advertising boards celebrating just as hard.
“He flew down to come watch the game and it was really awesome that he was there to see it,” Portillos said. “He’s still one of my good friends and we still talk and it was nice seeing him at the game. It was nice having the opportunity to share that moment with him, too.”