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Interview with Miami Fusion’s Vincenzo Bernardo

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In 2014, after more than six years of playing soccer in Italy, Austria and Guatemala, Vincenzo Bernardo returned to the US.

Signed by Miami United FC, Bernardo put together a stellar season for the club during its National Premier Soccer League campaign, scoring seven goals in 12 matches.

This season Bernardo became the first player to sign for the newly formed Miami Fusion FC as the club attempts to bring world class soccer back to the city.

The Fusion kicked off the NPSL season earlier this month, and after dropping the first match of the season to Bernardo’s former team Miami United, the Fusion defeated Weston FC 2-0 last weekend.

This week, World Soccer Talk spoke to Bernardo about the Fusion, returning to the USA to play soccer and expectations for 2015.

Drew Farmer: This season you signed with the new Miami Fusion FC who currently play in the National Premier Soccer League. How has the season gone thus far and what is it like playing for an expansion team in the NPSL?

Vincenzo Bernardo: The season just started. It’s a short, yet challenging league that I feel we are prepared to not only compete in, but try to win a championship in our first season as a club. Playing for the Fusion is a true honor. I remember growing up and watching the old Miami Fusion play in MLS. It’s a historic name and now under new ownership and with a new look, we are all excited to bring Miami Fusion back to the top.

Drew Farmer: You were not only the first signing by the Fusion, but you were given the captaincy by coach Ferdinando De Mattaeis. How important is it to be a leader for a new franchise on and off the field?

Vincenzo Bernardo: It was a true honor to be the first player to sign for the club. Something like that goes down in history and I am extremely grateful. Being a leader comes with great responsibility and after playing professionally for over six years, I feel that now at the age of 24, I can help my teammates on and off the field.

Drew Farmer: Vincenzo, we spoke in the summer of 2013, and at that time you were playing for Guatemalan side Antigua GCF. You returned to the US, in 2014 playing for Miami United FC. Tell me, how did that move come about and how excited were you to return to the US to continue your soccer career?

Vincenzo Bernardo: The reason I returned to the United States to play for Miami United was because I was contacted by coach Ferdinando De Matthaeis and the Fusion ownership group. At the time, they were running Miami United. I felt that it was a great situation and the perfect time for me to return to the United States and play a positive role to help bring Miami Fusion FC back.

Drew Farmer: You spent about seven years playing abroad. How has what you learned and experienced, affected the way you play and conduct yourself on and off the pitch?

Vincenzo Bernardo: I know that I am truly blessed to have travelled and lived around the world. I’ve grown as much as a person off the field. As for on the field, I feel like I have a certain amount of experience to be a top player for the Fusion.

Drew Farmer: Miami Fusion have signed experienced players, like yourself. What has it been like to train and play with another experienced player in former Fiorentina, Parma and Sampdoria man Emiliano Bonazzoli?

Vincenzo Bernardo: It’s been an amazing experience to play alongside Bonazzoli. I remember playing for Napoli and watching him play in Serie A every weekend. I can learn so much from him and I’m looking forward to getting to know him on and off the field within the next few months.

Drew Farmer: Currently, soccer in the US is seeing a growth it has never seen before. It seems the professional game is rapidly growing. What is your opinion on the state of the game in the US and where do you see the game going in the next decade?

Vincenzo Bernardo: American soccer in general has grown tremendously. The quality of play is growing season after season and it’s becoming even more competitive. I think there’s no limit to how much soccer can grow here in the United States. It’s very exciting.

Drew Farmer: When you signed for Miami Fusion, you stated, “… I’m very excited to bring the level of soccer back to where it deserves to be in Miami.” Miami is a former home to a MLS side and the league has talked about the city being a future home to a team. What is the fan-base like in southern Florida in 2015, because it wasn’t too long ago that the MLS franchise was contracted?

Vincenzo Bernardo: Miami is a melting pot full of people with different nationalities. There’s so much passion and excitement for the game. The Miami Fusion FC wants to give the fans what they deserve.

Drew Farmer: During your youth career, you played for the New York Red Bulls before moving abroad in 2006 with Italy’s Napoli. You were playing abroad for about seven years before returning to the US in 2014. How had the game changed in that time?

Vincenzo Bernardo: It had changed a lot. It’s great to see young players come out of youth systems here. Every league is growing each year and the teams are all very competitive.

Drew Farmer: Right now in the NPSL, Miami Fusion play in the six team Sunshine Conference. Overall, there are around 67 clubs playing in the league this season from all over the US. How challenging will it be to finish top of the Sunshine Conference?

Vincenzo Bernardo: Our goal for this season is to win the Sunshine Conference. We are working hard to achieve this goal.

Drew Farmer: Last questions Vincenzo, what can soccer fans in south Florida and in the US expect from the new Miami Fusion FC this summer?

Vincenzo Bernardo: They can expect a quality club that has realistic goals to bring Miami to the top. As for on the field, we have a roster full of international players that are very exciting to watch. 

For more information on the Miami Fusion FC and Vincenzo Bernardo check out their website www.MiamiFusion.com or Tweet the club @TheMiamiFusion.

Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger that has written for Forza Italian Football and World Soccer Talk. Originally from southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, the English football and the USA’s Major League Soccer.

 

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