FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – English. French. Slovene.
Those are the primary languages spoken by the three players at the heart of the New England Revolution’s defense: goalkeeper Cody Cropper, and center backs Benjamin Angoua and Anonio Delamea. Three players, three different languages.
On the face of it, that presents a potential problem. Cropper, Angoua and Delamea rely upon communication at all times, as organization at the back is critical to success.
But in speaking with the trio – through an interpreter in the case of Angoua – it becomes apparent that communication is, in fact, no problem at all.
“When I got here, I first met Toni, and right off the bat, we got along,” Angoua said. “Right up to now, everything’s going well with him.”
“I can tell you that [off the field] we are good friends,” Delamea said of his relationship with center back partner Angoua. “If we can communicate outside the field, I don’t see why we shouldn’t communicate on the field.”
Cropper, Angoua and Delamea communicate primarily in English. Delamea is still learning but speaks well enough to conduct interviews with the American media, while Angoua has a strong enough grasp of the language to understand a vast majority of what’s said on the field.
In the rare instances when that fails, hand gestures often do the trick, and on the training ground, assistant coach Remi Roy – a native French speaker – fills the role of interpreter for Angoua when necessary.
“Before and after we have training sessions, we try to figure out what worked and what didn’t work,” Angoua said. “When we do that, we become even stronger as players.”
“During games there’s sometimes maybe a little bit of confusion here and there, but we always figure it out,” said Cropper. “Each and every day in training, we’re working on different things with the back four and the goalkeepers.”
Communication hasn’t been an issue in three games featuring the Cropper-Angoua-Delamea triangle, but all three players agree that their bond will only strengthen with more time on the field together.
“Every game it’s getting better and better,” said Delamea. “We need time to learn how to play together. I hope we’ll only get better every game.”
“It’s obviously getting a lot better as we build those relationships and that triangle,” added Cropper. “We can only continue to get better going forward.”