Express players and staff are proud of what they accomplished this summer.
The Jersey Express’ 2015 season might not have ended the way they wanted it to when they lost an overtime heartbreaker to New York Red Bulls U23 in the PDL’s Eastern Conference final. But despite the final taste of disappointment, there’s no denying that the players and staff are proud of what they accomplished this summer.
Overall, the Express went 12-5-3, qualified for the PDL playoffs for a second straight year and reached the third round of the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in team history. All of these accomplishments were achieved even while the Express incorporated a host of new players from all over the world and a new coaching staff.
“I think if we look at the job that was done versus that one game, I think we (were successful). The team was playing well (in that game)l, it could have gone either way,” Express coach Anderson Da Silva said. “As a coach you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some, that’s part of our job. I’m really happy with the job that we’ve done.”
Of those many newcomers, none proved as impactful as 22-year-old midfielder Carlos Vitor Alvarenga Silva. Playing outside of his native Brazil for the first time, Alvarenga Silva set a team record with 22 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 14 regular season contests, then added a goal in a first round victory over Long Island and scored the decisive penalty kick in the semifinals against Charlotte.
For his impressive season, Alvarenga was one of three finalists for the PDL’s Most Valuable Player Award and was also selected to the All-Eastern Conference Team and PDL all Team of the year.
“I was really happy to know that I was selected,” said Alvarenga Silva, who was limited during the playoffs due to injury. “It was a surprise for me because being from another country, I thought it was more difficult due to the language. But on the field, I was able to translate everything I know. I’m really happy about it. It was very important for me to get this experience because it was my first time playing outside of Brazil. I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out.”
Alvarenga Silva was joined on the All-Eastern Conference Team by center back Sylvain N’Guessan, who was selected for the second year in a row. N’Guessan was also selected as the Team MVP by the Express coaching staff.
The 22-year old N’Guessan did not record any points, but there was no denying the impact he had for the Express. His 6-4 height and leaping ability made him a terror on 50/50 balls and he was also a stellar defender while rarely committing fouls.
“I’m very happy and honored,” said N’Guessan, who completed his third season with the Express. “I have to thank God, the team and the coaching staff.”
“He plays with his heart. He’s always willing to do whatever it takes to win,” Da Silva said. “He runs for himself and he runs for others. Everything he does is for the team, he’s a team player. That’s why he was the team MVP. Most defenders foul a lot and get a bunch of cards, but if you look Sylvain’s history, two cards in a season would be a lot.”
N’Guessan and Alvarenga Silva were not the only Express players to be recognized during the team’s end of season awards dinner held at the Mediterranean Manor in Newark.
Eight-year veteran Christopher Karcz, the team’s all-time leading scorer, was honored after a season, which saw him score goals. In addition, goalkeeper Matthew Turner, defender Matthew Mahoney and midfielder William Da Silva were honored with “Coaches’ Awards,” for their hard work and dedication both on and off the field.
“In a sport like soccer, you learn more about them in one game, than you would learn in an entire year,” Anderson Da Silva said. “They put their full emotion in a game. They’re happy, they’re sad, they’re mad and I think they learn how to deal with each other really quickly. With one helping another, in a short time we became like a family. Fighting for each other, feeling for each other, it was a good group and I’m really proud to be a part of the team.”