No player feels pressure in a game like a forward. It is his job to score the goals that win games. It’s as simple as that.
When they’re in a slump, or the chances and openings that are created don’t convert into goals, strange things start to happen in the mind of a striker. Very few teams or coaches persevere with a player and give him a period of time as lengthy as that afforded Fernando Torres when he was unable to hit the back of the net for Chelsea (although the considerable fortune they had paid for his talents dictated that patience be employed). The best forwards out there go through a lean spell and it is how they remain focused and bounce back with a fresh tally in the goals scored column that can often define the remainder of their career.
So when Minnesota United was awarded a second half penalty while trailing at home to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday, a forward whose return has not been as plentiful as he would have liked this season, stepped up to put things right.
Signed in a blaze of excitement as he arrived to renew a previously potent partnership with Etienne Barbara in Minnesota, Pablo Campos needed that special something to kick-start his United tenure. It came after 54 minutes when a handball inside the 18-yard box led to a penalty award for the home team.
Simone Bracalello was ready to step up to the spot and placed the ball in anticipation of his run up, but Campos took the ball from him and re-spotted it, insisting it was his penalty to convert. And convert he did. A clinical finish powered just below the cross bar in the top left corner leveled the game for United and gave Campos his second goal of the 2013 campaign.
The net bulged again from a Campos header only for his celebrations to be cut short by the offside flag, but deep into injury time, another cross and header produced a second goal for the Brazilian and for Minnesota, securing a 2-1 home win.
Campos admitted in his postgame interview that there is pressure on him to score goals. After all, that is why coach Manny Lagos lured him north from San Antonio. He also touched on the fact that his teammates have taken time to adjust to his style of play, suggesting there were none of those striker’s mind games at play after all.
Whatever the psychology, Campos is now three goals closer to the target United FC fans have surely set for him to eclipse the 20 he scored last season for the Scorpions, or even the 15 strikes a year earlier for the RailHawks. And his decisive double against Fort Lauderdale also earned him the NASL Player of Week 10 award, possibly further boosting his confidence.
Follow the remainder of Pablo Campos’s season in person on Twitter @9apito
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|Silverbacks 2013 Season: By The Numbers|
|New York Cosmos||14||9||4||1||10||31|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||14||5||5||4||3||20|
|Minnesota United FC||14||6||2||6||2||20|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||14||5||3||6||-2||18|
|San Antonio Scorpions||14||3||1||10||-9||10|
|San Antonio Scorpions||12||6||2||4||4||20|
|Tampa Bay Rowdies||12||5||3||4||5||18|
|Minnesota United FC||12||4||2||6||-5||14|
|Fort Lauderdale Strikers||12||2||2||8||-14||8|