Cup Craze Fuels Former FGCU Star Stanese

Born in Queens, NY and raised in Pitt Meadows, BC, Daniel Stanese holds US and Canadian citizenship. With Romanian heritage, he speaks fluent English, Romanian, and French, and is working on German as well. The young soccer star is quite the well versed and well traveled twenty-year-old and in 2012, his exploits took him to Florida Gulf Coast University.

In his time as an Eagle, Stanese and the FGCU defense recorded eight shutouts en route to an 11-5-3 record, Atlantic Sun Championship, and NCAA Tournament berth. His play landed him on the A-Sun All Freshman First Team and NSCAA All-South Region Second Team. Despite all the personal and team accolades, Stanese learned something that he put to use off the field as well.

"Honestly, I didn't think people could be so open. I made a lot of good friends there. My roommates and I share a really good bond, and I still keep in touch with them to this day," said Stanese, who also spent time in the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program. "We really came together as a team really quickly. I feel that I've learned how to be really open to people and really supportive."

After the season, the former FGCU standout quickly signed with FC Nuremberg, becoming the program's first player to ink a contract with a Bundesliga team.

"It was very hard for me to adjust to the style of play at the very start because they play a whole different system compared to how we played in Florida. They still pass and move the ball like we do but the whole positioning and tactical awareness (was different). It took me some time but I've gotten use to it over a year of playing," Stanese said.

"It was a culture shock as well. Places here close at 8 o'clock on weekdays. There's nothing open. A lot of people do speak English, but it's more our generation - younger teenagers or 20s. The language is a hard thing to learn also. I'm slowly starting to get it. I'm speaking it everyday as much as I can with the guys on my team."

After making 13 starts and netting one goal with the Nuremberg U-19 team, Stanese transferred to FC Augsburg II, of the Regionalliga Bayern.

"I just felt that it was time for me to move on. I wasn't really enjoying myself at that club. It had nothing to do with the coaching staff or anything. I just wasn't in my right state of mind," Stanese explained. "I heard that Augsburg was a really good team at the time, and I heard it is a good place for young players like me to go so I went. I've enjoyed it since I've been here."

While he competes with Augsburg during most of the year, Stanese plays within the Canadian national team system as well. He began with the U-17 squad in 2011, when they participated in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship and U-17 World Cup.

"I think that they have a lot of good coaches from the U-17 and younger staff. When you go with the national team its more tactical awareness than anything. When you're with your club it's more technical and physical part. It really helped me, the national team did a good job," Stanese said of Canada's ability to develop talent.

After another CONCACAF appearance in early 2013, this time with the U-20 team, the former Eagles star set another program 'first' by earning a promotion to Canada's national team for a friendly against Australia in October of 2013.

"I wasn't originally on the roster. A player got injured, and then I got a call the night before the camp started. I called my parents right away even though it was 3 a.m. in Canada," Stanese said. "It was a great feeling, and I'm always happy to be a part of any of the camps with the national team."

Stanese received another exciting call in May of this year, inviting him to the Canadian camp in Austria. Despite missing out on the 2014 World Cup, the roster is already working hard on the next goal.

"We want to go so badly to Russia. We have to wait and see how the team comes together," Stanese said excitedly of the 2018 World Cup. "I'm pretty sure we have a really good shot this time."

After watching the United States rally around a USMNT team that attained previously unseen success in this summer's World Cup, Stanese's motivation only grew.

"The USA did amazing and I was cheering for them in the World Cup. I got bummed out that they got kicked out."

With only one World Cup appearance in the record books, Stanese and company know their task is a large one. In their most recent string of international friendlies, The Reds finished with 1-1 draws against Bulgaria and and Moldova

"I think our consistency needs to be better. Whenever we do play well, we can beat any of the top teams around the world but the problem is it only happens once in a while," Stanese said, speaking mostly for the U-20 team.

It's no secret that countries such as the U.S.A and Canada have some ground to make up in regards to international soccer. As opposed to a plethora of other nations around the world, the sport is not deeply embedded in the culture.

"It's very hard. In the USA the big sports are basketball, football, baseball, and hockey. Those are the kind of sports you grow up with in America. Soccer is kind of the not so cool sport, it's (considered) so weak," Stanese said. "The funny thing is, soccer is the most played sport in Canada for young people. It's just such an easy game to send your kids to on the weekends."

The United States' 2-2 draw with Portugal in World Cup pool play drew 18.22 million viewers, making it the most viewed soccer match in US history. That was until Germany's extra time victory over Argentina in the final shattered that mark and set a new record of 26.5 million people.

"I feel like the popularity has been going up quite a bit," Stanese said. "But it takes more time - I think 10 or 20 years before it becomes something like here. You can't accelerate it."

While a nation can't accelerate it, qualifying for the country's second every men's World Cup would certainly help.

Canada has friendlies scheduled with Jamaica and Panama for this fall, but Stanese is back in Augsburg and the 2014-15 Regionalliga Bayern season is well underway.

"The goals are to get a top four finish and hopefully win the league if we can and get to the third division if we can," Stanese said. "Over 60% of our team is born in 1995, which is the first year for U-23s. That plays a huge factor in our performance and confidence. Coming together as a team is a big goal for us as well."

Through four matches this season, the 6-foot-2 center back has made two starts but received a red card in the latter and was forced to sit out the next two contests.

"I'm really good at heading the ball defensively. I'm trying to work on my offensive game and score more goals. I'm a pretty brutal player," Stanese said when asked of his attributes. "I go into tackles hard and I'm O.K. with the ball. I'm pretty technical. I do whatever I can for my team no matter what happens."

This tough nosed nature was most notably put on display in a shutout win over Bayern Munich II, one of the most well decorated clubs in Germany.

"I played against Bastian Schweinsteiger's brother (Tobias) in the second to last game of the previous season. We ended up winning that game 2-0 and he got all pissed off because he had no chances and ended up kicking me," Stanese said.

Despite the swift kicks to the leg, Stanese embraced the opportunity to compete against childhood icons. "It's crazy when you actually play on the same field as them and when you sit far away and just watch. It's surreal."

With his talent and the way his career is headed, the former Florida Gulf Coast standout might have to become accustom to it.

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