Diaspora

More than a decade after relocating from Haiti, Francois adapting to El Paso – El Paso Times

Hard times in sports are a relative matter.
The El Paso Locomotive’s 0-4 start in USL play is tough on everyone, but their new winger Christiano Francois has dealt with worse.
Back in 2010 Francois was a promising 16-year-old in Cabaret, Haiti, he was his national league’s reigning award winner as the top young player, and was starting to look seriously at heading to Europe to further his pro career.
More:USL Championship standings
Then the world literally shifted under his feet. On Jan. 12, 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake that registered 7.0 on the Richter Scale.
“After the earthquake, everything changed and I had to start over,” Francois said. “I had to find a way to move out of Haiti and find a better life here.”
“Here” ended up being Newark, New Jersey, where his soccer-playing ability netted him a scholarship to St. Benedict’s Preparatory School. Francois had to leave his family behind and stake out on his own.
That was the type of life experience that makes losing a few games on the pitch seem not so bad.
More:El Paso players on Locomotive top-level academy team making mark for senior club
“It was hard,” Francois said of uprooting to America. “It was a new life for me. I had to learn English, meet new people, fit in a new country without my parents around. It was a hard time, but I made it.
“New Jersey was great. The coach and the people I was around made sure I was good. That was a good experience, that’s still my home.”
From St. Benedict’s, Francois spent two years at the University of Maryland before beginning a pro career mostly in the USL.
Last season he led Miami FC to the USL playoffs with a team-leading 11 goals, then in the offseason Miami made a coaching change and Francois was again looking for a new place to play. He made El Paso the 10th stop in his pro career (that includes spending two seasons in the middle of the last decade in Portugal’s second division).
“We were targeting a winger with pace and goal-scoring ability, a guy known in the USL as having good quality,” El Paso coach John Hutchinson said. “When Christiano became available we quickly moved to sign him and bring him in. He’s still learning how we want to play football here.
“He’s had a couple of wonderful games, he’s had a couple of other games where he didn’t play so well, which is normal when new players come into a new system. But you can see what he can do. He’s a dangerous player going forward, he works hard going backward. He’s exactly the kind of winger I like.”
The transition hasn’t always been smooth, but Francois is used to fighting to make things better.
“This is a new area, so I’m trying to connect to the players, get to know the players, fit in the system,” said Francois, who is still looking for his first goal with the Locomotive. “It’s taking time, but when the right time comes, I’m not going to quit working until I can help the team and we can start winning games.”
He also had been adapting to a new position on the left wing of El Paso’s high-possession, high-pressure attack, but that could be changing as soon as Saturday’s home game with Monterey Bay.
“The biggest difference, in Miami, it was quick for me to adapt because I had been playing as inside the whole time in the USL,” Francois said. “When I came here, I played as the outside and as the left winger. It’s a little bit difficult because I’m right footed, but the coach and I talked, and for the next game I’m going to be playing on the right side so I can get my game back.”
Hutchinson knows it will work out.
“He’s experienced,” he said. “We saw that record, we know we need goals. We want to be an aggressive, attacking team, he brings that, whether it’s off the bench or starting. He can bring that to the team every time.
“We’re still continuing to fit him into our system. Once he grows into that system, you’re going to see a helluva player.”
That process continues Saturday night against Monterey Bay.
Bret Bloomquist can be reached at 915-546-6359; bbloomquist@elpasotimes.com; @Bretbloomquist on Twitter.
What, when, where: A USL Championship game, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Southwest University Park
Records: El Paso is 0-4, 0 points, 13th in Western Division; Monterey Bay is 1-3, 3 points, 11th
Tickets: $18-$54
TV: ESPN+
Promotion: Fireworks night

source

What's your reaction?

Excited
0
Happy
0
In Love
0
Not Sure
0
Silly
0

You may also like

More in:Diaspora

Comments are closed.