Being Franck: perennial MVP Tayou would love to add an MASL title to his resume

by Michael Lewis

Take a good look at Franck Tayou's soccer resume.

It's pretty damn impressive.

He has earned Major Arena Soccer League MVP honors thrice, secured a spot on the all-star team as many times and led the league in goal-scoring on three occasions, scoring as many as 71 goals.

But there is one area that has been left blank.

"I have won the highest individual award that a player can win three times in a row," Tayou said. "I've basically won everything a player can win individually. The only thing missing on my resume is a championship.

"Winning a championship is important and it will mean a lot to win."

Tayou and the Monterrey Flash could remedy that this year, but they face some stiff competition on the road to the Ron Newman Cup. They tussle with the San Diego Sockers in the Western Conference final on Sunday. The winner will take on the victor of the Milwaukee Wave-Baltimore Blast Eastern Conference confrontation for all the MASL marbles next week.

Of course, Tayou hasn't been thinking that far ahead. He has been more concerned getting past the Sockers, who forged an incredible 23-1 mark during the regular season.

So, there's a pretty huge mountain to climb.

"It's not a secret that San Diego doesn't play great soccer," Tayou said. "It's just they never lose. They just find a way to win. We played them twice this year and we lost by one goal. It was pretty even. There were spells when we dominated and the momentum sort of switched.

"Now we just got to limit our mistakes. We know what they're good at. We know that they don't play their best football at home and we've got to take advantage of that. It's a great team. They've had an unbelievable season. They found a way to win It's always a pleasure for me to go out and against. I'm looking forward to it."

In one of the more intriguing MASL anomalies, the Sockers went undefeated on the road -- 12-0, but "only" 11-1 at home, losing to the Tacoma Stars early in the season.

In the two encounters between the teams, San Diego edged host Monterrey by 7-6 results, on Dec. 28 and in the regular-season finale at home on April 13.

"Everyone is focused on the last two games, San Diego Sunday," Tayou said. "It's always a great game against San Diego. It's a great organization. I have a lot of friends on that team. Every time we play them against each other, we compete. Definitely looking forward to the challenge and I'm sure I speak for everyone else on this team."

In a one-game shot, anything can happen, but the 29-year-old Tayou has participated in arena soccer long enough to know it doesn't matter how you play.

"At this point it's not about dominating four quarters, it's about ending up with one more goal than the opposition," he said. "It all comes down to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes, the team that's better prepared, the team that wants it bad enough to make the right adjustment at the right moment. We have been working hard the whole week. I'm sure they are, too. It's too organizations, two good teams. It's just going to depends on who's more focused on the day."

Tayou has been most impressed with the Sockers' depth. They have very few weaknesses, if any.

Translated: there is hardly much drop in the quality of play and players no matter who they throw on the field.

"They have a very good team chemistry and you can feel it on the field," he said. "They play for each other. They stick together and that's way they find a way to win. Kraig Chiles, who's been one of the top players, wasn't there in the [Pacific Division] final for Tacoma. Eddie Velez, who is usually a midfielder and a defender, he came in at the forward position. and won the game for them. It's a top team from top to bottom. That's important to win a championship. You need to find the right chemistry and I think they found it early on in the season and that momentum has been carrying them through the whole season."

After saying all that, the 6-2, 209-lb. Tayou was confident the Flash can upend San Diego to reach the Newman Cup.

"Well, I think Monterrey can beat San Diego and win the championship because I'm on the team, obviously," he said. "Also, I feel like that, when you look at the team we have, it's sort of a mixture between Sonora and the Monterrey Flash."

Tayou played with the Sonora Soles the past two years before club owners decided to sit out the 2018-19 campaign, after reaching the MASL final in two of the past three seasons. Monterrey added some Soles players.

"You're looking at a team that lost two times in the final and a team that beat us in the Southwest final last year," he said. "It gives you a group of guys who [think] it's their time and it's their turn for the trophy. That motivation sometimes carries you to the victory. I'm confident that with the commitment and the determination, we can make something happen."

Tayou has liked the Flash's "good mix of experience and youth."

He noted the ageless Chile Farias, a 42-year-old who still can produce magic, whether it is scoring goals or setting up his teammates.

"He has been important for us in key moments," he said.

"We have guys who have played since the Monterrey La Raza and then you have a guy like me, I'm freshly coming off arguably three of the best years in the history of the league and I'm hungry for me. In most positions we have players that are competing, not only to make the roster but to get playing time. We have players like [Miguel] Vaca that are very, very good players one on one. We have players who can hurt you at any position, players who can score goals, create opportunities. We have defenders that are experienced enough and disciplined and stay home when they need to. It's a matter of controlling the temper.

"San Diego has a lot of Mexicans on their team and we have a Mexican team here. Sometimes the emotions get the best of some players. Every time we play San Diego there's about four or six blue cards. If we can control that and not get on the end of too many fouls, we're going to give ourselves the best chance to win."

Tayou's hungry for a good reason because when he was with the Soles, he came so close to taking the final victory lap of the MASL season. Sonora lost twice to the Blast in overtime.

"The first final was the lack of experience on our part," he said. "I had three fouls in a quarter. I was walking off the field and the coaches on the bench told me to stay on. I think there was a foul actually on another player, another teammate of mine. But the Blast put the foul on me. That's how they got the fourth foul. They got a power play and ended up scoring on it. We were in the game. We took the lead a few times. Once they got the power play leading into overtime. They managed to stick one in.

"The second year, again, a little bit of bad luck, but also a little bit of a lack of focus. I would say focus and concentration that's one of the main things. The difference between winning a championship and losing a championship it all comes down to that. The team is the same from the start of the season up until now. We haven't really added any difference makers on the team. It's a matter of the guys who are here right now. Can we stay focused for 60-plus minutes? Can we stay focused on doing our job and not make mistakes?"

Despite leading the league for the third consecutive season, Tayou noted that he had among poorest goal production in his MASL tenure.

"In terms of numbers, this was probably one of my worst seasons from 71 goals to 50 but the most important thing was that I was able to contribute and take the team where it's at right now."

That would be two wins from an MASL championship.