Being a player-coach is not an easy job, but Enrique Tovar of the Turlock Express makes it look very easy.
He has gotten the job done in indoor soccer for over ten seasons and now faces a new challenge, leading a young Express team to among the MASL’s elite.
“We have a team that can make the playoffs,” Tovar commented. “We have a great infusion of new talent, but not much experience. We’ll try to improve each game and get better each month.”
Those young players can learn a lot from this indoor soccer legend. Playing in this league can be a wild affair, a crazy mix of speed, skill, and physical play. And Tovar will prepare them for just that.
“I was always a coach on the field. Now I can do training sessions and the lineups my way and have more authority. I always like to think outside the box.”
Approaching the game in that manner is a great idea, considering you never know what the other team will do and you often have to make changes on the fly. That’s why a lot of people make the connection between indoor soccer and ice hockey. They are probably right as the indoor and outdoor games are literally worlds apart.
Tovar has high expectations for the new MASL, a league that brought rival teams from the MISL and PASL together in one place.
“We’re back to the way it was, one league,” Tovar continued. “We’re headed in the right direction. Teams are doing a great job developing local talent and being involved with the youth and the community.”
Tovar himself has been an absolute terror on opponents the last two seasons as an attacking player, leading the Las Vegas Legends in points and assists before returning to California with the Express. He excelled in Las Vegas, serving as captain and leading the squad to two postseason appearances and two division titles. And he is arguably Turlock’s best player this year.
The San Jose, California native immediately showed his potential as a coach upon his return to Turlock, leading the Express PASL Premier squad to a national championship as the the team beat an incredibly talented Sockers Premier team. All of this followed an impressive 7-0-1 regular season record.
Winning and being a star is nothing new for Tovar, having done that at every stage of his career. It all began with a large amount of success at both De Anza College and San Diego State University. He was so impressive in the college game that he got a look from MLS side San Jose Earthquakes.
“MLS didn’t go the way I wanted, but I kept playing,” Tovar added.
He did just that, continuing his career with the USL’s Syracuse Salty Dogs and the California Gold in addition to time with the California Cougars (MISL) and the US National Futsal Team. His national team experience spanned from 2006-2008 and included playing in the Pan-American Games.
No wonder he was highly sought-after and on the radar of so many teams over the years. Everyone wants a goalscorer, a player that can create opportunities and change the game. Tovar was certainly that over the years, including leading the Cougars in goals and points each season from 2005-2008. This season brought more of the same as he racked up five goals and 12 assists in just seven games.
There is no question that this season in the MASL will be a memorable one as long as Tovar is playing on the pitch or roaming the sidelines. Expect the Turlock Express to put forth some absolutely incredible soccer thanks to the leadership and skill of a legendary indoor player.
Photo Credit: Turlock Express