For two seasons, forward Matt Horth was one of the faces of the Atlanta Silverbacks, leading the team in scoring and building up a deserved reputation as one of the true nice guys around the league. Horth has since moved on from the Silverbacks, signing with Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, but in an in-depth interview conducted this week, the 6-foot-3 forward from Akron, Ohio insists he’ll never forget his time in Atlanta. Here is Part II of the interview:
Have you kept up with NASL news this offseason?
“Yeah, I have. Minnesota has been going on a bit of a spending spree! It’ll be interesting to see how they do. It’s like they’re almost putting together a NASL version of the Miami Heat. They’re going to be very dangerous with all of those players, but we’ll see how quickly they can put it together. I know it took the Heat a little while to adjust. It’ll be a good league this year, though. There are definitely some interesting storylines.”
Speaking of the NASL, is there a certain player or team that was extra tough to play against when you were in the league?
“I would have to say Takuya Yamada from Tampa Bay. He is such a good defender, and he was always there applying pressure and ticking me off. He is just a tough player – not necessarily a stat sheet stuffer. Deep down I respect him, but he is kind of a pest, to be honest. I tell you what, though – he’s consistent and he puts in solid performances game in and game out.”
Before we have some fun with the next set of questions, have you and your fiancée begun planning the wedding?
“Oh yeah. The day after we got engaged, she turned to me and said, ‘Ok, now what should we have on our menu at the reception?’ It has been a lot of fun, actually. From a guy’s standpoint, I guess you never realize how much goes into planning a wedding until you actually have to go through it yourself. We picked out the venue in Boston, where she is from. We have lots of “Save the Dates” and invitations to send out.”
Ok, let’s talk about some of your former teammates now. Who is the biggest jokester on the team right now?
“I would have to say probably Joe Nasco. He is not as much of a practical joker – he’s just a big goofball. Last season, Ciaran [O’Brien] was probably the biggest jokester.”
Who whines the most?
“It’s harmless, but I’d have to say the Mendes brothers. Sometimes the coaches will purposely make a call in training just to set up a certain in-game situation, and they’re still there complaining about it. It’s quite comical, actually.”
What about the player with the best dress sense?
“I guess I didn’t technically play with him in Atlanta, but I played a PDL season with him – Mark Bloom. Off the field, he’s a very clean-cut, sharp looking guy.”
Which player has the worst taste in music?
“That’s a tough one. There are probably a bunch of guys, to be honest. I think everyone plays the same kind of music in the locker room, so I don’t know if I can really pinpoint one guy.”
Who trains the hardest?
“Martyn Lancaster trains really hard. He has been doing it for so long, which makes it even more impressive. Tony [McManus] is a very hard trainer. He was probably the player that trained the hardest last year.”
Who do you think the best overall athlete is on the team?
“Eric Ati, for sure. It’s not even close. He has cat-like reflexes, and does things that defy logic. There have been shots that I’ve absolutely ripped in training and after he saves them, you’re kind of left there asking yourself ‘How the heck did he do that?’”
To close out this interview, let’s talk about your favorite moments in a Silverbacks uniform. What was your favorite overall moment?
“My favorite moment came last season on our first trip to Edmonton. Alex Chacón was still the coach, and we hadn’t won a game up to that point. In Atlanta, I got to the airport and realized that I forgot my passport at my apartment. I had to go back to my apartment and get it, miss the team flight, get a new flight, switch terminals, and sit through a different layover. I think I finally got to Edmonton around 1 a.m. To make matters worse, after taking my own taxi from the airport to the hotel, Alex texted me the wrong room number, so the room I went to first already had two players sleeping in it. Needless to say, it was a crazy travel day.
I wake up the next day with every excuse to play horribly in the game against FC Edmonton. But it was a beautiful day, and I put everything behind me and worked my butt off for 90 minutes. I didn’t score, but I worked hard and it ended up paying off. We squeezed out the win, which made me forget everything else. That was actually the game where most of the international players couldn’t play because of passport and visa issues. Long story short – we had everything against us, but we grinded it out and got the three points. That was my favorite moment.”
You scored 18 goals for the Silverbacks in two seasons. Which one was your favorite?
“It was this past year at home against Puerto Rico. Jose [Burciaga, Jr.] lifted the ball into the box from about half-field, I brought it down, and finished with my left foot. For me, it was a really good piece of skill to bring it down like that because that was a hard ball to handle. I was proud of that, and also proud of the shot, which was hit with plenty of pace and power. I think it ended up winning us the game too. What made it truly special, though, was the fact that my family was at the game. That was the first time my entire family was able to see me score in person.”
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