Pablo Campos, striker/forward of the San Antonio Scorpions, won this year’s Golden Ball award in pro Soccer’s Division II-the North American Soccer League (NASL).
The Golden Ball winner is considered the league’s most valuable player.
The Scorpions lost out in the semifinals to the Minnesota Stars. Minnesota plays the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Final.
Campos was a threat to score consistently throughout the season. Even though he was marked by the other team’s best defensive players, he continued to make things happen. Campos’ best attributes as a scorer and finisher are his natural abilities to score from the ground and in the air. He uses his head plenty, as he is 6’3″ tall, and he is excellent with ball control and moves to keep the defenders guessing.
Campos is from Brazil, so it makes sense he is able to find the net, when many other forwards may not. His professional career includes past successful seasons in MLS, once winning the MLS Cup in 2009 with Real Salt Lake.
This was an enjoyable year for Campos, who also won the Golden Boot award for most goals scored, and he can now settle back and survey his options for the next move in his career.
For sure, Campos will not forget playing for the Scorpions, a non-profit professional team, supporting Morgan’s Wonderland-the world’s first theme park for disabled people.
AmericanizeSoccer.com: Congratulations Pablo on becoming MVP of NASL!
Pablo Campos: Thank you, it was a great year for us.
AmericanizeSoccer.com: You have been an MLS player in the past, now, what are your expectations going forward in your career after proving to be the best player in America’s Second Division?
Pablo Campos: I am looking for a good long-term contract that can give me time to show the way I play Soccer and can win a lot of trophies for the club I would sign with. A long-term contract can give you time to plan your life, get used to the way the team plays and fans get used to you. All this chemistry are brought onto the field, which makes you play better. It is good for the club and good for the player.
AmericanizeSoccer.com: Which leagues will you consider playing in? Are you accepting offers from all over the world?
Pablo Campos: I have a few offers from all over the world, but I am considering and giving the American offers priority. They get my priority because my family lives here and I am used to the U.S. It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t leave to play somewhere else. I am studying all my offers right now.
AmericanizeSoccer.com: The Scorpions are supporting Soccer For A Cause (soccerforacause.com) and Morgan’s Wonderland, how did playing for a professional non-for-profit team affect you?
Pablo Campos: The San Antonio Scorpions’ organization is run by two very competent business men, Gordon Hartman and Michael Hitchcock. What they created, I’ve never heard of before playing there. The non-profit organization really affects you in a way that you see human beings differently.
We are a Soccer team, but it doesn’t feel that way because you are playing for something else that you are not used to, which is to play to help special needs people. Every single game you would look around and see all those special people around wanting to get to know you better and they see you as their heroes. Deep inside, you know that you have helped them not only financially, but emotionally, too.
I have to confess that this mentality helped to keep the team close together on and off the field. It showed the players that we were there for something bigger than our egos and the organization was the star.
AmericanizeSoccer.com: How do you see the growth of American Soccer in the future?
Pablo Campos: I see Soccer as the next sensation in sport in the U.S. It is cheaper to play than other sports, in general. It takes a ball and two pairs of sandals (to make the goals) to play at the park, which can’t be done with baseball or American football.
The pressure that comes from other countries to make American people to like Soccer is huge. Soccer is watched by millions of people overseas and there is a world-wide tournament that unites the world together.
This generation of kids is playing Soccer more than ever. They are not only following Soccer here in the U.S., but all the leagues in the world. In 2010, during the World Cup, I have seen in this country; people going to bars to watch games, scream at the referees and cheer their nation on.
The growth of MLS will help Soccer to spread out easier, but it will take some time to establish itself more. MLS is competing with 100 year-old Leagues from around the world. It will be up to the people responsible for the growth of Soccer, the college coaches, investors, directors, professional coaches, to do a good job to make the U.S. competitive enough to win a World Cup in the future.
AmericanizeSoccer.com: Promotion/Relegation may not be feasible for U.S. pro Soccer, do you think there should be more than 20 teams in MLS?
Pablo Campos: I think that 20 teams in MLS is a good number. It shouldn’t be less or more than that. Each team would need to play 38 regular season games plus playoffs, U.S. Open Cup and other playoff/Cup (CONCACAF Champions League) games. I think playing over 40 something games a year is too much.
To make it interesting to the fans and to the people that follow Soccer, I think there has to be change in the formatting of the American leagues. It has to be like any other country in the world where there is First Division, Second Division, Third Division and so on. This system makes it more competitive.
A team from First Division that doesn’t do very well should go to Second Division and a team that does very well from Second Division should move up to First Division. Relegation in a sport is very important. If relegation is not implemented, competition is not taken as seriously as it is supposed to be. More pressure brings more quality play.
AmericanizeSoccer.com: If you could could change one thing to make Soccer more exciting for American fans, what would it be? Should there be more substitutes, should the goal be raised higher, should a red card be an automatic penalty kick?
Pablo Campos: I am a fan of raising the number of substitutes, but not to change the size of the goal or to give a penaly kick for every red card. I don’t think changing the size of the goal will make Soccer more exciting. Also, a red card is already a punishment not only in the game that the player was sent off, but for the following game, as well.
I do think the number of OFFSIDES in a game should be limited, though. After a team reaches a certain number of OFFSIDES, the opponent should be allowed to take FreeKicks close to the 18 yards for every time OFFSIDES is called after the limit number.
AmericanizeSoccer.com: Pablo, last question, thanks for your time and energies. What is your prediction for the World Cup 2014 Semifinals and Final?
Pablo Campos: I have enjoyed the interview. I would say Germany, Spain, Brazil and Argentina. Spain is playing the best Soccer lately. Germany is always strong in the World Cup, Brazil has a huge tradition in the World Cup as well and Argentina is depending on Messi, who is playing very well for his country.
I left Italy out of my predictions because they are lacking some replacements for their last loss of players from the previous World Cup.
The Final will be Spain and Brazil.
He says Brazil with his trademark smile. It is the same smile he is known for on the field. Pablo Campos loves the ‘beautiful game’ and it shows in his ‘beautiful play’ and his charisma on the field.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com