AFC Ann Arbor are thrilled to welcome Sebastian Chalbaud to the squad for the 2019 season. Chalbaud is the brother of Andres Chalbaud, just announced to the side yesterday, and together they become the second set of brothers to play in the same team for The Mighty Oak (first set of brothers to play for the club were Zach and Chase Pagani). This past season saw Chalbaud complete his freshman season at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. Chalbaud is a native of Valencia, Venezuela, but played high school soccer in New Jersey, where he won the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of New Jersey. He will join Ryan Pierson as fellow GPotY winners on the 2019 squad.
Last season with the Hatters, Chalbaud made an instant impact starting in all eighteen games he appeared in over the season. Chalbaud distributed five assists out of center midfield for a Stetson side that advanced all the way to the Atlantic-Sun Conference Tournament finals despite being a six-seed and needing to play one more match than the eventual winners, Lipscomb. For Chalbaud, though, his club collegiate and high school accolades also join international achievements. Chalbaud has been a member of the Venezuelan U-17 National Team and was a featured member of the 2017 South American U-17 Championship. Chalbaud scored the opening goal of the competition in a 1-0 first match win over Argentina and lined up against the likes of Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid) and Paulinho (Bayer Leverkusen). He helped Venezuela get into the final stage, just narrowly missing qualification for the U-17 World Cup.
Describing himself as a “complete player” highlights Chalbaud’s confidence in his ability to control the game in many facets. Taking into account his experience on a high level, he said, “Something that have helped me a lot to grow as a player was playing for my national team. Playing at a high level an international tournament gave me a lot of experience and made me become more solid.” When it comes to his game right now and how that impacted him even further, he said, “I always try to be focused and positive because I know what it takes to play at a high level.”
Eric Rudland is overjoyed at the bringing-in of a player that will surely be a young star in the NPSL Great Lakes, as well as the league as a whole. Saying the club are “ecstatic” to bring in the Venezuelan youth international, Rudland described his likely impact saying, “In our system he will make a big impact both with and without the ball. He has a very bright football career and we are looking forward to him suiting up for us this season.” His ability will be able to be put on full display with The Mighty Oak this season whatever position he may suit up on. With young players, it is rare that you find one so ready for the high level of the NPSL. But it is just as rare within the league to find players with such strong experience on an international stage.
With experience like his, keeping confidence high internally is always important, but not incredibly difficult, for Chalbaud. “As I said before, playing for my national team have helped me a lot. I feel I have got so many positive things from it,” Chalbaud shared with AFC. His early collegiate experiences helped continue to foster a strong sense of self-belief too, as he shared, “Also, being a freshman and being the one who played the most minutes on my team made me get more confidence on the field so I believe that I am prepared to do the same for the upcoming NPSL season.” With a wealth of experience now in his pocket at a Division One level, he is looking forward to bring that too the table with The Mighty Oak all throughout the summer of 2019.
Recent success was a motivator for Chalbaud to link up with The Mighty Oak this upcoming season. “I have heard of AFCAA before because of its success in the NPSL season the previous year, so that really caught my attention and made me attracted to this club,” he noted. As AFCAA set to win three consecutive Great Lakes Conference Championships in the Midwest Region of the NPSL, bringing in players the likes of Chalbaud make the ‘tree’-peat that much more obtainable.
When looking at expectations, given his knowledge of the club’s successes, Chalbaud’s hopes for the club are lofty. “As my first season with AFCAA, I would like to help the team to win the conference tournament and the national tournament,” he said. A hard-working player, Chalbaud wanted the fans to know, “I’m coming with the best intentions to help the team to a successful season.” He would also add, “I want to make all the fans happy and I hope they are supportive of us at every game.” Given the strength in the oak that the AFCAA fans subscribe to, and the togetherness of the Main Street Hooligans, there is surely no doubt that the support Chalbaud hopes for is set to come.
About AFC Ann Arbor
Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.