Image: Steve Aibel – LittleOrcaSports.com / Pitch Black News
Imposing goal machine (and forward) Franck “the Tank” Tayou helped jump-start a struggling San Antonio FC attack midway through their inaugural season, but some believed, despite many signs to the contrary, he may not be returning for 2017 – and that’s what happened.
Tayou joined SAFC in June 2016, reinforcing a strike force which had been struggling to score, netting only one goal in their previous four league games. In addition, the club had lost forward Shaun Chin the day before Tayou’s June 16 signing and would also lose forward Victor Araujo a week after.
Tayou started off as an impact sub and quickly endeared himself to the fans with his abilities in attack, being able to grapple impressively with defenders thanks to his strength, as well as his catchy “Franck the Tank” nickname. He went on to score 5 goals in 17 appearances, averaging a goal every 153.4 minutes, and tied Rafa Castillo as the club’s leading goalscorer.
Just over a month after SAFC’s season ended though, Tayou was back to playing (and scoring) for Soles de Sonora, the Major Arena Soccer League team he’d been plying his trade with before SAFC. He received the league MVP award and led the team to the playoff final in the 2015-16 season. Given the success he’s had and his missing the start of SAFC’s preseason, some wondered if he wouldn’t be coming back after all.
SAFC knew he was playing the indoor game again though – the Nov 17, 2016, announcement of his re-signing devoted its largest paragraph to detailing Tayou’s arena soccer pedigree and they penned a Dec. 5 article about his exploits. They highlighted his production on social media too.
Hint: He’s scoring goals. Lots of them.
— San Antonio FC (@SanAntonioFC) December 5, 2016
— San Antonio FC (@SanAntonioFC) January 19, 2017
Additionally, Tayou still seemed to be included in the count whenever SAFC talked about the size of their roster. Preston Petri, SAFC’s communications manager, tweeted out a roster on Feb. 3 containing 21 players (including Tayou), Juan Niño and Maxi Rodriguez have been added since then and the announcement of the latter’s signing said “the current SAFC roster stands at 23.” It just all added up.
Another issue brought up was how consistently Tayou’s been playing, between SAFC and Soles de Sonora – he hasn’t really taken a break since October 2015. However, SAFC’s assistant coach Andy Thomson specializes in periodization, which aims to get the best performance and longevity out of players. Also, if Tayou’s okay playing year-round and his body can handle it, what’s the problem? He’s still just 26 years old.
In his re-signing announcement, Tayou said “I’m really thankful to have another opportunity to do what I love.” Sure, players say they “love” playing all the time, but maybe he means it more than most and is willing to play more consistently than other players. Perhaps he just wants to get the most out of himself and his abilities before age catches up with him.
Also, Tayou’s doing superbly in the MASL right now and his team has already secured a playoff spot. Though he would have come into the SAFC fold late, it couldn’t hurt to be in from and potentially fresh off a championship. If he harnessed that confidence right, he could’ve been even more of a terror.
To be fair, Tayou would’ve been joining a better attacking force than he ever had to compete within for a place last year. However, he would’ve brought something the team doesn’t really have with his size and power up top (existing SAFC forwards could supply those, but not as well as Tayou), and he’d already shown he could hit the ground running with SAFC.
“Franck arrived midseason and made an impact with our team immediately,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said in the announcement of Tayou’s re-signing.
Who knows, more competition for a place could’ve even prompted Tayou to step up his game and work harder once he was back.
For all the signs pointing toward things working out between Tayou and SAFC though, there were a few pointing in the other direction. For one, Tayou hadn’t shown up to preseason training, and while that may’ve been arranged with the club, it’s certainly not something they would’ve liked. For another, the club didn’t acknowledge the striker’s MASL accolades in recent weeks – perhaps the Jan. 19 tweet from SAFC was even a disguised reminder of his obligations to the club he’d re-signed with.
SAFC announced on Thursday Tayou and the club had mutually agreed to terminate his contract, noting his failure to show up for preseason training in February as the turning point. On Friday, Tayou posted a statement via Twitter taking responsibility for the debacle and its effects, explaining why he did what he did and clearing up a lot of the intricate details of the situation.
It is with a heavy heart that I must say goodbye to the team that launched my outdoor career. pic.twitter.com/hEG0awSsji
— Franck Tayou (@KingTayou) February 25, 2017
Tayou’s statement notes the multiple ways in which he went against the club’s wishes – they didn’t want him playing arena soccer in the offseason but allowed it, they wanted him to stop playing after January to rest up a bit but he continued, they wanted him to show up to preseason training on time and he didn’t.
“The decision they made about me was most certainly the right one as the best interest of any team comes before the interest of any single member of that team.”