New England Soccer Today

Revs Staff Confident in Sambinha’s Development

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When Revolution assistant Tom Soehn first saw Sambinha play in Portugal last year, he knew two things: one, his athleticism would translate well to MLS. The second thing? He’d need time to get accustomed to an entirely different style of play.

After watching the center back star for Sporting B last season, Soehn, who’s scouted the Portuguese Liga for years, viewed Sambinha as a player worth taking a shot on, which the Revolution did when they signed him to a season-long loan deal during the winter.

While Sambinha hasn’t seen any minutes with the first team this season, Soehn believes the opportunity will come once he better acclimates to what opposing offenses throw at center backs in league as physical as MLS.

“It’s improved,” Soehn said of Sambinha’s progression. “I think when you compare the style of play in Portugal, there’s not a lot of pressure on the backs as there is here in our league. There’s a lot of high pressure.”

Once employed regularly by only a handful of cavalier squads, the high-pressure approach has become the modus operandi of many MLS squads, especially with the advent of the 4-2-3-1. The formation offers more safeguards to a squad that asks its forwards and wingers to press high in order to create a turnover in an advantageous area of the field.

The high press, though, isn’t as prevalent in Portugal, where defenders are often afforded time to build out of the back while attacking players typically ease off the gas when their team isn’t in possession. Thus, the prospect of an opposing striker routinely charging hard at a center back is a fairly unfamiliar one to a player like Sambinha.

That much was evident during one of the young center back’s first preseason outings. During a Desert Diamond Cup tilt against Houston, Sambinha was caught out of position on a sequence in which he was dispossessed by Erick Torres, who quickly turned it to Will Bruin for an easy goal.

Since then, Soehn has watched Sambinha grow more comfortable with a having opponents press hard in training as well as during a recent scrimmage against the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team.

“He’s adjusted pretty well in knowing how to play quicker, and under pressure,” Soehn said. “That’s something that he even said to us as we talked to him and tried to work with him. It’s so different from what they’re used to in having to open up quick so when they get the ball they buy themselves more time.”

Although Sambinha was kept on the bench in favor of versatile veteran Je-Vaughn Watson to fill the void left by an injury to center back Jose Goncalves, the Revolution brain trust is confident that the Sporting loanee will contribute before long.

“He’s a good learner,” Soehn said. “He’s really athletic, so he’s adjusted well and he’ll continue to grow as he – like any other player – needs a little bit of time to get accustomed to the league.”


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