Brotherly Bond: Polisi brothers leading SFU Clan’s playoff push
Marcello and Matteo Polisi have been playing their football together for as long as they can remember.
After spending most of their formative years with Coquitlam Metro Ford Soccer Club and in the Whitecaps Prospects program, the pair made the move to the full Whitecaps Residency program in September 2011.
After playing a season together with the U14s, Marcello stayed with the ‘Caps all the way through to the U18s, becoming a key player and captain of the side as they made it all the way through to the USSDA U18 championship game in 2016. Matteo headed back to Coquitlam Metro Ford, winning a U15 BC Provincial Cup and being named a “Player of Distinction” by Canada Soccer, before landing with Portland Timbers’ Residency program.
The brothers were reunited on the pitch this summer in the PDL with TSS Rovers, before Matteo joined his brother at Simon Fraser University, where the pair have played a pivotal role in the Clan’s playoff push.
“It’s good, it’s similar to TSS,” Marcello told AFTN of the experience of now playing with his brother in the college game. “We’ve played together since we were young.”
“To link up together at the university level, it’s fun,” Matteo adds. “Obviously playing with my brother, we work well together. Our connection’s well and I think most people can see that. If we’re working well with the team, then hopefully we’ll go far.”
This summer was a precursor for what the Polisi brothers will bring to the Clan and NCAA Division 2 this season.
Despite both having some injuries over the short season, they ended up being key contributors for the Rovers, making 17 appearances between them (12 for Matteo and five for Marcello).
Matteo Polisi ended up as the team’s second top scorer, with three goals, the most memorable of which being a stoppage time winner in TSS’ last match of the season, giving the Rovers a last gap 3-2 win over Seattle Sounders U23 and sending everyone home happy.
It was an experience that both players enjoyed and one they’d like to repeat again next summer.
“Yeah, definitely I would want to do it again,” Matteo told us. “It was good experience. Playing at Swangard, there’s no better environment you can play in in Vancouver, in BC. You can’t play in a better environment than Swangard.”
“Home games were great,” Marcello said. “You can really feel too the field. It’s so much bigger compared to other fields. Playing at Swangard for those home games, you could feel the professional environment.”
“The fans too especially,” Matteo added. “You always had guys out chanting and screaming for us and wanting us to win. Even though the season didn’t go the way we wanted, we ended well. That brings fans back and better players.”
Now the focus is on SFU and bringing a first NCAA championship to Canada.
The Clan started the season strongly, with five wins and a draw from their first six matches. That saw them ranked second nationally by the NCAA coaches. But a tough road trip that saw their only loss of the season, 3-2 against Concordia University in Portland, followed by a goalless draw in Carson against California State Dominquez Hills, saw that ranking drop a staggering 20 places.
They bounced back with two home wins last week, rising back up to 16th in the somewhat meaningless rankings, but more importantly to moved into second place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) standings. Only the GNAC winners are guaranteed to make it to the postseason tournament. SFU want to make sure that that’s them, but also have their eyes set on the greater goal and they know the pressure and expectation is on them.
“We had a bad start against Concordia,” Marcello told us. “We got two goals back but the game could have been 5-3. Is there pressure? There’s seven games remaining and we were sitting in four before [the last two wins], so yeah, there is pressure. We’re expected to make nationals. Our goal is to win the tournament and I think we have the group of players that can do that as well.”
And the Polisi’s aren’t the only pair of brothers trying to help the Clan get there. They’re keeping up with the Jones’, Adam and Whitecaps Residency alumni Kyle.
Certainly an unusual situation and dynamic for Clan head coach Clint Schneider.
“What’s interesting is that Adam and Kyle are as different as they possibly come,” Schneider told AFTN. “Two guys that really have two different sets of friends, just don’t really hang out together. One’s really interested in heavy metal music, playing guitar, the other is more focused on his football, and that’s Adam. Then Marcello and Mateo are very similar. Very close. So it’s a different dynamic.
“The biggest thing that we’ve had to do is to make sure Marcello and Mateo both know that they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Even though they’re comfortable with each other, is to make sure that they’re acclimating with the team too, and credit to them both, they’ve done really, really well.”
The bond between the two Polisi brothers is very evident both on and off the pitch and SFU are already reaping the rewards.
“We’re good friends,” Marcello says of the relationship he has with his brother. “We hang out all the time. Our friends are the same, we go out together. We’re close. We’re close brothers. That’s what it comes down to and you can see that on the field.
“We’re always looking for each other, we’re always trying to interplay with each other, and first look is always find my brother, if I can get it back, switch the play. I’m always checking my shoulders, making sure, seeing where he is, if I can find him. If not, I find the next person.”
So no sibling rivalry between the Polisi’s, but is there some with the Jones? Do both sets of brothers have a little competition to see which brother or brothers can score the most goals this season?
“Well it’s not going to be me or Kyle,” Marcello laughs. “It’s going to be between Adam and Matteo. They’re more attacking players. They play closer to the net. Kyle and me try to find them. That’s what our job is to do. Our job is to protect the back four, keep the ball moving, and find penetrating passes.”
Right now, Matteo is leading the way. He leads the team with six goals, and also has two assists in his rookie season. But last year’s GNAC Player of the Season, Adam Jones, is breathing down his neck with four goals and fours assists. Marcello Polisi has one goal and one assist, while Kyle Jones has one assist and is third on the team with 23 shots.
Next up for SFU is a chance to avenge their only loss of the season when Concordia head up Burnaby mountain on Thursday evening (kick off 7pm). That’s followed on Saturday by a massive top of the table clash between the Clan and the undefeated Western Washington in Bellingham, the first of four straight road matches.
It’s a stretch of games that could go a very long way in deciding SFU’s postseason fate.
“Every game’s about winning now,” Matteo said. “It doesn’t matter how we do it, we just need to win games. That’s what it comes down to. It comes down to a mentality of who wants it more and now, that’s going to be put upon us and we’ve got to take that challenge on.”