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DEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald PhotoCrafty. Clever. Cheeky. There are many adjectives that describe the playing style of Wisconsin midfielder Erik Ortega.”I would describe it as ‘smooth,'” junior captain Aaron Hohlbein said.Every match, Ortega, a 5-foot-9, 155-pound sophomore from Western Springs, Ill., lends an excited and charged energy to the midfield of the 4-2-0 Wisconsin men’s soccer squad.”I mean, he really scoots around out there,” Hohlbein added. “He’s quick, he’s strong on the ball and he can hit a good shot — he’s just an overall solid player.”When asked about his playing style, Ortega says he tries to mirror Manchester United and Portuguese international winger Cristiano Ronaldo.”I try to model myself after [Ronaldo],” Ortega said. “He plays outside, and I’ve been out wide for Wisconsin freshman and sophomore years. I’m crafty like him, I try to sneak around and see if I can get through balls.”Before arriving at Wisconsin, Ortega steadily assembled an impressive resume — and simultaneously wore out his visa — while playing with the Chicago Magic club team. With the Magic, Ortega played at an extensive number of venues internationally, including Brazil, Japan, Mexico, France, Germany, England, Spain and Holland.”It was great,” Ortega said of the experience. “At, like, 14-years-old we went to France and we were giving out autographs … it’s a whole other world over there — it’s like football is here.”In addition to his success with the Magic, Ortega also played five years on the Olympic Development Program (ODP) state team, five years on the ODP regional team and one year on the ODP national team.Wisconsin head coach Jeff Rohrman believes Ortega’s travel experience helped him immensely in adapting to the college game.”Certainly those experiences have helped him since day one as far as coming in and not really even being a freshman, per se, in that first year,” Rohrman said. “He came in with the maturity and experience of a seasoned player, so those experiences do help.”Ortega’s frequent travel habits diversified the winger’s playing style and produced the flair that he is now known for. His journeys also enable him to share with his teammates all of the different styles of play and various strategies he encountered.”[His travel experience] contributes a lot,” Hohlbein said. “I mean, he has a lot of experience obviously overseas, and here in the United States, too. It brings a different part to the team — knowing different styles of play.”In last Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Butler University, Ortega displayed his panache by nodding home the game-winning goal in the 84th minute of play. After redshirt freshman Victor Diaz was sent off late in the second half, the reduced Badger squad fought back and salvaged a late goal off a cross from sophomore Nick Caronna. Describing the goal, Ortega can only vaguely recall details of his clinical finishing.”We put some things together,” Ortega said. “[Nick] Caronna got the ball out wide and I kind of slipped my defender … after that, it’s kind of a blur. I got up and the ball was in the goal — it was like pandemonium with the whole bench and everything, it was a great feeling.”In addition to his game-winner against Butler, Ortega has also recorded an assist this season, and has started in all six of Wisconsin’s matches. Rohrman credits Ortega’s consistency to his overall physique.”He’s extremely athletic and he’s extremely fit,” Rohrman said. “When we do our testing, he’s clearly in the top two or three in just about everything. Running with the ball, he’s extremely quick, extremely fast and can do some things off the dribble that few others can. He also has the ability to finish well.”When comparing his international trips with the Wisconsin road trips, Ortega confesses there isn’t much difference between the two. He claims the trips are more about team unity and bonding rather than miles.”[The trips] are about the same, it’s all about comradery,” Ortega said. “You get to know the guys a lot better and it’s definitely a good time.” read more
SharesGor mahia players celebrate Francis Kahata’s goal against NA Hussein Dey in a CAF Confederations Cup match at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on February 24, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluNAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – Gor Mahia head coach Hassan Oktay has issued a passionate plea to football fans to turn out in large numbers at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on Sunday when they take on Angola’s Petro Atletico in a do-or-die CAF Confederations Cup match.Gor who sit bottom of Group D are eyeing a place in the quarter finals of the competition for the first time ever but must beat the Angolans regardless of the result Nasr Athletic Hussein Dey and Zamalek post in the other group match. “I want to ask my players number 12, the fans to come out and support us. Not only the Gor Mahia fans but all Kenyans because when we are playing, we represent Kenya. It doesn’t matter whether it is Gor Mahia, Bandari, Sharks or whoever is playing. When you are in this competition, you are representing the country,” Oktay noted.Gor have just the six points from their home wins against Zamalek and Hussein Dey. Had they posted better results away from home, then they would have finished the job early but now find themselves in a tricky situation.Gor Mahia head coach Hassan Oktay gestures on the touchline during their CAF Confederations Cup game against Egypt’s Zamalek at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on February 3, 2019. PHOTO/Raymond MakhayaUnder pressure, Gor are not known to be the best. Last season, they only needed a point against Rwanda’s Rayon Sport to qualify for the quarters but they ended up losing 2-1. This year though, they are counting on their imperious home form to topple Petro.“We have made a plan, and a good plan for that matter. I am confident that we will win. I am not worried. We will play good football; that’s my philosophy because I want to see people happy,” the tactician stated.Gor’s preparations for this important tie have been slowed down with players going on strike over unpaid salaries and allowances, but the same was resolved and they managed to train on Friday evening.The league champions had to field only 15 players for Thursday’s league match against Kakamega Homeboyz and Capital Sports understands that some of the players who were to be rested were called in late after most of their mates boycotted the game.Gor Mahia’s Boniface Omondi (left) and Francis Mustafa celebrate the former’s goal during their Kenyan Premier League match against Kakamega Homeboyz at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on March 14, 2019. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu“It is difficult for me to work like this because I didn’t even prepare much for this game. I tried talking to the players individually to ask them to come and even on the pitch before the game I tried talking to them. But we have talked and resolved,” the coach said.He added; “This is like a marriage. Sometimes you fight with your wife and it is normal to disagree. It is the same for football as well you might disagree. We are a big family and sometimes we disagree. We have problems but we have solved them.”The tactician has also decried the lack of help from league managers in postponing their games to allow them prepare better.“In Algeria, Hussein Dey had their games cancelled while for us before that, we played against Tusker with 10 men for 70 minutes three days before the game. We don’t mind playing three games in a week after we are done with CAF games. I think they should help us to prepare well and rest players,” the tactician offered.Shares(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) read more