Former Cedar Stars Academy defender Mike da Fonte signed with Colorado Rapids on Tuesday.
March 16, 2017
Da Fonte told the Rapids’ website about his early days in the MLS.
“Everyday is like a fight in this competition,” he said. “Every single day, doesn’t matter if it’s a short practice or anything, everyday you ought to be out there and try to win your spot. I think I’m just really competitive, like everyday no matter what happens I’m out there trying to win, always.
“I’m excited to be here, I want to learn from the veterans and stuff, from [Coach] Pablo [Mastroeni]… just get my foothold in the MLS. I just want to work hard, help the team out as much as possible and hopefully win the championship.”
Cedar Stars head coach Oliver Papraniku is thrilled about the fact that a player who used to play for him is now competing at the highest level.
“It's a great feeling to have even a small part in handling a great player like Mike, who we all knew would make it to the top pro level because of his commitment and natural ability,” Papraniku said.
The CSA boss also expressed that the signing of da Fonte is an evidence to the MLS that the CSL has top level players.
“It will further prove to the MLS clubs that great talent can be found in the CSL and we can be a great source for players outside of the conventional Draft and Pro Agent systems,” he said.
“Some of our other teams like NY Greek Americans, Lansdowne, Shamrock, NY Pancyprians [and so on] have also done a great job with developing young talent for the pro level and I see many more future pro level players coming out of the CSL clubs.”
Da Fonte joined Cedar Stars when he was 22 in 2014. The defender had previously played for Westchester Flames in the PDL in 2012, for Portuguese Third Division side S.C. Espinho the following season and Pedras Salgadas in 2013-14.
After his staying in the CSL, da Fonte played for New York Red Bulls II—where he was the captain—before transferring to fellow USL club Sacramento Republic FC last season, where he had a breathtaking season, scoring four goals from the back in 19 games.
He netted against CSL giants Lansdowne Bhoys and against NY Greek Americans. However Papraniku explained that the 25-year-old’s “real strength was keeping opponents’ forwards off the scoring stats.”
The manager praised da Fonte’s fast playing pace and the willpower he has to challenge every play regardless of the difficulty.
Besides the Rapids defender, another former CSA player went on to playing in a higher division. Striker Christiano Francois is now playing for USL side Rochester Rhinos after competing for Lansdowne and Cedar Stars in the first half of the season.
“We have a culture of developing young players and are not just focused on winning,” Papraniku noted.
“Cedar Stars Academy will continue to support and develop young players from the region and work in partnership with our sponsors Cappelli Sport who share the same focus and vision. I think this will prove to be a very valuable partnership in the future development of professional players.”
Da Fonte’s first game with his new club is against Minnesota United FC Saturday at 8:00 p.m. home at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.