If you have been to a San Antonio FC match this month you have heard active supporter groups repeat one chant with particular gusto. Fans demand to see Franck Tayou, “Franck the Tank,” enter the match – especially when it’s late in the second half of the game.
Tayou spent some time with the Rivard Report Saturday’s match, discussing everything from fans’ reactions to his adjustment from indoor soccer to the outdoor game.
Tayou scored in stoppage time on Saturday night to seal the match for San Antonio FC.
“It’s never a bad time to score,” he said, not overly concerned with the timing of his winning goal against the league leaders.
The striker, who joined the team in June, has come in with a very specific role which he spoke of following Saturday night’s match.
“When I was brought in, the coach (Darren Powell) told me, ‘I want you to secure the game and score us a goal and hold the ball up front’ and I was trying to do my job as best as I can.” Tayou said. His ability to hold up the ball is vital for San Antonio FC as it allows midfielders to run on to the play and keep the opposing team’s defense guessing whether Tayou will hit another powerful shot, or lay the ball off to one of his on-rushing team mates.
San Antonio FC is Tayou’s first professional outdoor soccer team, and he has quickly become a fan favorite.
“It’s been fun,” said Tayou, who is originally from Cameroon and moved to Las Vegas as a child. “It’s a great opportunity, it’s a group of great players, and it’s good to be part of this organization, but more importantly to be part of this locker room.”
Tayou came to San Antonio from semi-professional indoor soccer – moving from a smaller, basketball sized court to the full outdoor field required some adjustment, but Tayou took it in stride.
“I’ve been playing futsal for about two years now, and I’ve been playing indoor soccer for four years,” he explained. “But I’ve always played outdoor, so my mentality going in to those smaller games was ‘how can I use this game to better my game on a bigger field?’”
Futsal, the official version of indoor soccer sponsored by FIFA, is often seen as a way to improve a player’s skills for the larger, outdoor game as it condenses play and forces the player to improve his first touch. Tayou found that playing on the smaller indoor field helped his skills for outdoor matches.
“I’m really good in the tight spaces, and I’m really good at finding spaces. My movement has gotten a lot better than it was before,” he said.
Tayou was given the honor of representing the United States at the CONCACAF futsal championships, making him the first player ever to have played for a U.S. National Team and a professional San Antonio club, which he speaks proudly of.
“It was great walking out of the locker room, listening to this national anthem. It’s a feeling I am never going to forget,” Tayou said. “Obviously wearing the colors of this great country is an opportunity I’m always going to cherish.”
San Antonio FC is Tayou’s first professional outdoor soccer club, and the striker doesn’t hide how much he’s been waiting for this moment.
“I’ve always wanted to play outdoor soccer,” he said. “Playing indoor was just an accident and I happen to be good at it. Now it’s my time to come out on the bigger field and really show what I am capable of … I feel like I’ve done that so far, and I’m ready for more.”
Coming to San Antonio FC from futsal has given Tayou a unique role: the “super-sub” that makes a late cameo to win the match or steal a draw, and that is something the striker has been relishing. “I’m pretty confident that I’m going to do my part to help my team achieve the goals that we set (for the season).”
But Tayou is not only interested in the team goals. Like any professional, he has his own personal goals for the rest of the season.
“Number one is to stay healthy.” he said, echoing a team priority to keep San Antonio FC’s growing list of injured players down, “but also adjust more to the bigger field and try to integrate more into the squad, and keep getting those results.”
San Antonio FC is a big step up for Tayou – his first professional club – and has required him take on a new, challenging role.
“It’s a bit different here, obviously. (With) most of the teams I’ve played for in the indoor game I was looked upon as the man to go out there and make things happen,” he said. “Here, I’m pretty confident that everyone has that ability so there’s less pressure on me – not that I mind the pressure, but it’s nice not to have it. I’m looking to enjoy my time without any pressure.”
Top image: Franck Tayou strikes during the match against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on June 18, 2016, at Toyota Field. Photo by Darren Abate, courtesy of USL.