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How San Antonio FC is providing Rida Zouhir an environment to thrive | Young Player Spotlight

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/29/23, 2:30PM EDT


19-year-old’s first professional goal before sellout crowd on Saturday was landmark moment for midfielder

19-year-old Rida Zouhir reacts after scoring his first professional goal for San Antonio FC against New Mexico United at a sold-out Toyota Field on Saturday night. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

There can hardly be a better feeling for a young professional than scoring the first goal of their career.

When they get to do so in front of a packed house – as Rida Zouhir did for San Antonio FC on Saturday night in the club’s 2-1 victory against New Mexico United – it only heightens the feeling.

“It feels really good to do it in front of the fans in my first home game here,” the 19-year-old said. “I didn’t expect an atmosphere like this. The fans are amazing here. It was just like the fans at Montreal.”

Zouhir has made a positive start to his loan spell with San Antonio from Club de Foot Montreal of Major League Soccer with his goal against New Mexico adding to an assist in his debut against the Charleston Battery two weeks ago.

His reaction to the sellout home crowd of 8,027 fans at Toyota Field also said something about how beneficial loans like his can be not just in terms of playing time, but the atmosphere and expectation a young player will get playing for a team like San Antonio.

Montreal’s fanbase has been passionate throughout its history – dating back to the club’s days in the USL – while San Antonio’s has proven to be among the most raucous in the league, particularly recently with the rise of its high energy style of play on the field. As much as Zouhir can offer SAFC as a player, that trade-off is almost certainly going to make him a better player for Club de Foot Montreal in the future.

“We prepare for every game like it’s a cup final or it’s the last game that we play,” said SAFC Head Coach Alen Marcina after the win. “It’s that mentality we take into every game, each and every game, and then you just hope then that you get the result.”

Here are some of the other young players who stood out from this past week’s games

- Ray Serrano, Louisville City FC – The 21-year-old notched the assist on Wilson Harris’ goal to help LouCity claim victory against rival Indy Eleven and was solid otherwise, completing 14 of 20 passes.

- Collin Smith, Birmingham Legion FC – The FC Dallas loanee keeps making a good impression and had three chances created and one shot on target while winning 3 of 3 tackles and 7 of 10 duels against Detroit City FC.

- Christopher Pearson, FC Tulsa – The 20-year-old Jamaican put in a solid shift in his second start of the season against Louisville City FC last Wednesday, completing 18 of 25 passes and making four clearances.

- Duran Ferree, San Diego Loyal SC – SD Loyal came out on the short end of the result in Oakland, but Ferree’s four-save performance showed the 16-year-old goalkeeper’s qualities again.

- Duilio Herrera, Rio Grande Valley FC – The 18-year-old was asked to fill-in at right back against Charleston and completed 30 of 42 passes and made seven recoveries in a position further back than he’s used to.

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