On Wednesday, the Lions traveled to San Jose for a midweek match that marked their second of three games played in a nine-day period. The brutal schedule called for rotation and changes to the line-up, which provided opportunities for some unknown players to make names for themselves.
Victor “PC” Giro and Léonardo Pereira did just that when they hit the West Coast.
Neither of them had quiet MLS debuts. They both had a noticeable impact on the match-- PC even made it to the scoring sheet by assisting Carlos Rivas on the lone goal of for the Lions.
“I thought they were both spectacular,” Head Coach Jason Kreis said after the match. “That's probably one of the things that makes me the happiest about this performance is we've gained basically two players. Two players that we didn't know quite certain, we didn't know for sure whether they'd be able to contribute at this level and I think they've both proved tonight that they're quite capable of it.”
The MLS squad acquired Pereira from Orlando City B, but the Brazilian defender had played with Orlando City’s partner club Atlético Paranaense in Brazil prior to that. PC was acquired in a four-year deal from the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who currently play in the United Soccer League (USL). Both defenders bring young talent to the Lions backline-- PC just turned 23, and Pereira is only 21.
They might see more chances on the backline after their performances in California, especially while young central back Tommy Redding is away with the United States U-20 Men’s Team for the U-20 World Cup in South Korea. How quickly he returns to the team depends on how far the U.S goes in the tournament.
After helping their team earn points on the road, PC and Pereira are earning the praise of coaches and teammates alike. After the match, Kreis gave both players a game ball and spoke highly of their contributes to the team. Their team captain and fellow Brazilian also gave them high praise.
“Incredible. Congratulations to PC and Leo, they played really good,” Kaká said. “PC did the assist for the goal and Leo had an amazing game. Congratulations for those players. It's not easy when you have to make your first game away on the road and at a tough place to play, so congratulations to both of them.”