Diegues shows a knack for the back of the net

by Brian Ackley

Wherever Ricardo Diegues plays soccer, goals are sure to follow.

One look at his career stat sheet confirms what fans already know – the Brazilian-born star has a flair for the creative, a feel for the dramatic and an overall knack of finding the back of the net with regularity.

The Florida Tropics SC current leading goal scorer (7) and overall points getter (10) averaged a goal a game indoors during his debut with the Brownsville Barracudas last year, after an impressive outdoor career at the University of Texas-Brownsville where he also averaged nearly a goal a game. In 64 college matches, he had 57 goals, including a spectacular senior season which saw Diegues score 34 goals for UT Brownsville, which was undefeated until losing 2-1 in the NAIA men's soccer championship game.

Diegues, naturally, had the only goal for the Ocelots in the finals, and he tied a 32-year record with eight goals in the NAIA championship playoffs hat season. His teammate at UTB was Tropics midfielder Victor Parreiras.

“Everywhere I go, I work hard to score goals, that's what I like to do, that's what makes me happy playing soccer.,” he said. “I'm glad I'm able to score here as well, but it really doesn't mean anything if we don't win the game.”

He has scored two of the Tropics' most dramatic goals this season, the game winner with 31 seconds to play on a bicycle kick in Florida's first-ever game Nov. 11 against San Diego, and a back heel flick that brought the Tropics to within 5-4 on Dec. 17 against Kansas City.

But scoring indoors isn't the same as doing it in the outdoor game, something the left footed Diegues is continuing to learn.

“It has to be quick. Like the back heel and the bicycle kick, it had to be quick. There was no time for anything else. I just go with the flow, whatever the game shows me,” he noted, adding that all the beach soccer he played in his home country helps in the indoor game. “I try to adapt. Indoor there is no time. If you take one second to think, there's one guy, two guys right on you and you lose the ball.”

Fans will get a chance to see Diegues in action again this weekend at www.MASL.tv when the Tropics travel to play Kansas City Dec. 30 (8:35 EST) and Cedar Rapids on Dec. 31 at 4 p.m. EST. Fans can see Diegues in person when Florida returns to the Lakeland Center on Friday, Jan. 6 at 7:35 p.m. to start a seven-game homestand starting with a matchup with the Dallas Sidekicks. Tickets are available at the team's website at www.fltropics.com, or by calling 863-333-5353. Through Saturday, fans can get three game tickets for just $20 by calling as well.