Almost every professional footballer gets the call at least once in their career.
New Beale Street Boy Samuel Careaga had no hesitation when his agent told him he’d been sent out on loan from top-level Argentine club Atletico Lanus to Memphis 901 FC and he’d be traveling to the United States for the first time in his life.
“I didn’t really know much. I’d been training and then when they told me, I didn’t think twice,” Careaga said through an interpreter. “I said yes straight away because I haven’t been playing many games and this is a beautiful opportunity that I want to take advantage of so I can get rhythm and minutes.”
That opportunity presented itself almost instantly as Careaga found himself checking in with the fourth official at AutoZone Park just three days after touching down at Memphis International Airport.
With 901 FC trailing the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 and time ticking away on a comeback effort, Careaga subbed in for the goal scorer Rodrigo Da Costa and the momentum the starters had built finally resulted in shots reaching the back of the net.
The midfielder came in with fresh legs to control pace and direct traffic along with Aaron Molloy, and suddenly Memphis was ahead 3-2 after a Jeremy Kelly header and an own goal forced by the pressure of the Memphis attack. Knocking off one of the best sides in the league isn’t a bad first result for the newbie.
“He came in just a few days ago and he’s been absolutely great,” midfielder Aaron Molloy said. “He’s integrated with the lads and for him to come in and contribute like he did in his first game, it’s very good. It shows the level of the team for him to be in and contribute from the start.”
While Careaga has only played seven minutes of live action for the Beale Street Boys, they hope he can be the type of late-season addition that sparks a playoff run and turns a great team into a force to be reckoned with. Wednesday’s victory is just a sample of what Head Coach Stephen Glass is looking for.
“It was a good opportunity to get Samuel on and he showed,” Glass said. “He’s an all-around midfield player who can shoot and combine with the other midfielders. I think it looked like he fit in the group tonight and I think he enjoyed it.”
As far as fitting into the Memphis style of play, the Argentinian said his main focus after a few training sessions is adapting to the pace the club likes to play with from the training ground to matchday.
Memphis will be able to utilize Careaga a number of ways as they fight for homefield advantage in the first round of the postseason with seven matches remaining and just one point separating them and No. 4 Louisville City.
The next opportunity for Careaga to show what he can do will come quickly again as he’ll be available for selection when the club hosts Monterey Bay F.C. on Saturday, September 9 at AutoZone Park at 7 p.m. CT.
“The rhythm is very intense here, I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “I’ve been speaking with Caleb (Patterson-Sewell) about it being intense and it’s beautiful, beautiful soccer down here. I want the supporters to get excited and for them to keep cheering for us because we will fight,” he said. “We will fight until the end and take Memphis to the highest level possible.”