AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to confirm Marlon Freitas as the sixth men’s signing ahead of the 2019 season. This will mark Freitas’ second consecutive season with The Mighty Oak, having spent last season with the club as well. A Brazilian who has just concluded his senior season with Madonna University, Freitas starred for the Madonna side that made a deep run in the NAIA National Tournament. Head coach Eric Rudland said of the newest returnee to AFCAA, “This past fall he was a catalyst for Madonna's run to the NAIA Final Four and he was a player that was reliable in our environment last year in Ann Arbor. We are hopeful that he can make a big impact for us this season.”
Freitas’ season with Madonna was one to write home about as he played outstandingly well on the collegiate level. He finished the season with six goals and nine assists in 21 games, good for second-most goals on the team (behind AFCAA alum Yuri Farkas) and a team-high in assists. This total included a golden goal in the Second Round of the NAIA Tournament to give Madonna a victory over Bellevue to continue their run through the tournament.
About the tournament run, Freitas said, “At Madonna we got the best outcome that anyone could have wished for. The boys worked so hard every day at practice to be able to get where we got. It was one of the best experiences going to Nationals.” Ever the team-spirited individual, the Brazilian continued, “When you work hard every day it pays off. Those boys turned into my brothers through this experience and I’m so thankful for them. I also have to say that I’m thankful for such strong leadership, our team couldn’t have done it without Coach Z (Madonna head coach Mark Zathey) and Felipe Guimaraes.”
Looking ahead to the summer, though, Freitas is just as excited. “I’m feeling very grateful to return to such a solid team with a very strong support system,” he said. “I am looking forward to improve my game with the help of my team and coaches they push me to improve my game.” Building off not just a successful season collegiately, but also with a season with AFC under his belt that included a goal in the season-opening game at Milwaukee, he is looking to work hard and put himself in a strong position to help the side.
As a player, Rudland described Freitas as “[not] your prototypical Brazilian”. He elaborated, saying, “[His] technique and creativity is blended with a tenacious defensive spirit to go after the opponent. This has allowed him to adapt well to playing as a right back.” Freitas echoed similar thoughts about himself as he said, “When it comes to the defense, I feel that I am pretty good at locking down.” Not just a defender, Freitas has done plenty of damage on the attack, primarily as a left winger. On his offensive game, Freitas said, “On the offense, I would say that I’m very instinctive. I see the field and know where everyone is at and where they are going. So, when I get the ball, it’s not a lot of thinking, my body just takes over.”
An assessment of his game prompted Freitas to provide a bit of extra analysis, saying, “Strengths of mine are that I’m very quick, intense, have good stamina, never give up, and have a growing passion for the game.” The combination of each trait makes for a superb athlete on the pitch both physically and mentally for any side he may play on. This especially helps him in either favored position but especially, as Rudland deployed him last season, as a right back in the AFCAA model.
When it comes to goals, Freitas’ are based in firm positivity, and an assurance in himself to get better. “My hopes are that I improve a little bit every single day,” said the newest member to the 2019 roster. He continued, “I also hope to prove myself to my coaches, teammates, and fans that we can thrive again this season.” Certainly anyone that has seen Freitas play will know that with him signed on for another season with the club, the club is in that much better position to thrive.
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.