Former Southeast soccer player Salgado is finding success at Lakeland United
Beating the Florida Tropics in the first round of the United Premier Soccer League Florida West playoffs was not the ultimate goal for Tauan Salgado’s Lakeland United team.
But Monday’s 2-1 win at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex was historic and a nice stepping stone to the freshman program.
“First of all, I’m really proud,” said Lakeland United head coach Salgado. “More than the win, I think the work we put in (it) came together. I know every coach will say that, but it’s clear to us.”
Still, Salgado has a bigger vision.
Salgado, a native of Brazil who played professional football for the Associacao Atletica Portuguesa for six years (2008-2013), played college football at the University of Texas at Brownsville in 2014, at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky in 2015 and at Southeastern University, where He played under current Florida Tropics indoor head coach Clay Roberts. At Southeastern, he was the Sun Conference Player of the Week and was named 2017 SEU Offensive Player of the Year.
He graduated from Southeastern in 2017 and was his first coaching job with the tropics. He then returned as an assistant coach to Lindsey Wilson College, a Kentucky program with nine national championships and the most successful tradition in NAIA history. His next assignment was back in Florida for Villages Soccer Club as an assistant coach.
One of his responsibilities as an assistant coach at every job was to help players secure scholarships for major college programs.
So he met with Sylvio Maia and Werner Fomin in Atlanta to develop a plan to create Lakeland United as a bridge program for college players. Maia, a professor with an MBA in sports management in Brazil, and Fomin, an immigration lawyer, are old friends from Brazil. Her goal was to own a professional soccer team in America.
Salgado’s ultimate goal was to develop players and give them enough attention to advance to the next level.
“I’ve always done this because I enjoyed it, and it gave me great connections and a network,” Salgado said. It was something I realized I was really good at.”
Attracting really good talent could ultimately equate to wins, but the Brazilian native wanted so much more.
“For me, winning is important (and) we want to win and we want to create a winning culture,” he told Camps featuring your son’s entire career from age 7 to 18 or 19. The only end product for me is a college scholarship.
“The (best scenario) would be to sign a professional contract. That will be 0.1% of the children. And they must dare to dream. dream every day Be the LeBrons and the Bradys and the Tiger Woods the best. And carry yourself every day like you’re going to make it. But the minimum is a college scholarship. That changed my life.”
Salgado’s assistant coaching job in Florida was well underway as of August 2020. By late 2020, plans for Lakeland United as a bridge program in the UPSL had officially begun. And in August 2021, Lakeland started its first season.
While Salgado could have brought his semi-professional football team to Atlanta, he chose Polk County because the location is a hotbed of football talent that was not offered scholarships.
The team consists of international students, Polk State players and top-class Polk County athletes.
One Polk County player at Lakeland United this year is Armando Maldonado, a forward from Tegucigalpa, Honduras and 2021 Polk County Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
The Lake Gibson High graduate led the Braves to the district title game after a 17-year drought and back-to-back district championships. He finished his high school career as the second-leading scorer in school history with 91 goals in four seasons.
Maldonado, who tore his cruciate ligament and meniscus in a regular-season game against the Tropics, said Lakeland United’s program helped him.
“The program helped me see new opportunities to play in college,” Maldonado said. “It also developed me as a player to be prepared to play at the collegiate level. Last season we made it to the final but unfortunately lost. This season we have the same mission of making it to the Finals and winning and winning Nationals.”
Other Polk County players at Lakeland United include: Lakeland Christian’s Caden Maldonado, Auburndale High’s Alan Yakhin and Ridge Community’s Zac Coppin. Caden Maldonado and Yakhin will attend Faulkner University, while Coppin will attend Salem University in West Virginia.
Lakeland United provides transportation to training, games, trips and school. But the real benefit is that it helps players get full scholarships, six so far this year.
Work begins at the Southwest Complex in Lakeland, where players train and most home games are played at Mulberry High School.
By defeating Florida in the first round of the UPSL Playoffs, Lakeland (5-2-4) meets Leg-AZ World FC (8-1-2), the top team in the Florida West Division.
The second round playoff game takes place on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Feltrim Sports Complex in Haines City.