By Andy Lohman
Redshirt senior midfielder Francesco Amorosino is probably not the player on VCU men’s soccer that will stand out to you. The goal-scoring of Luc Fatton, the touch of Rafael Andrade Santos, the athleticism of Siad Haji, these are the things that jump off the page at you about the team.
But Amorosino has been a constant for the Rams, tirelessly working on the left wing.
While he’s earned his minutes playing in the traditional “number 7” position at left wing, he’s not a winger by definition.
“I would have started off saying for sure I’m a center mid no matter what,” Amorosino laughs.
“I couldn’t tell you what his best position is,” Head Coach Dave Giffard said. “I have no idea.”
Amorosino doesn’t naturally fit into any of the traditional roles of a modern soccer team. He doesn’t have the towering size of a center back or a target striker. He doesn’t have blinding speed for a winger, nor does he have impeccable foot skills for an attacking midfielder. What he is, though, is a jack-of-all-trades who is too good to keep off the field.
“Outside of center back I think he’s played in every single role that we have,” Giffard said.
Versatility has proved to be the defining characteristic of Amorosino’s game.
“It’s helped me find a place on the field. The coaches know that they can trust me in different positions,” Amorosino said. “As long as I’m not a goalkeeper, I’ll play anywhere.”
After bouncing around the field, he finally stuck at ring winger for the 2016 season, his redshirt junior campaign. He racked up four goals and an assist in 20 games. With the departure of senior Jorge Herranz, Amorosino moved to the left side for 2017.
Soccer has always been a part of Amorosino’s life.
“I was kicking a ball before I could walk properly,” Amorosino said.
He grew up in Italy, but while living in France as a three-year-old, he and his dad would play soccer with the local school boys, who were all 8-10 years old. By the age of six, Amorosino was playing on an organized team. When his dad moved to Washington, D.C. for his job at The World Bank, Amorosino and the rest of his family followed a year later. After playing club ball for Great Falls, he wound up on the McLean Academy team with his future VCU teammate Greg Boehme.
It’s easy to see the kid who loves to play the game anywhere and any time, as Amorosino rarely gets subbed off the field. The biometric data that the Rams coaching staff uses to track players shows that the Italian will run around 7-10 miles per game.
Giffard believes his versatile skillset coupled with a strong mentality will give Amorosino opportunities to play beyond college.
“I think what’s going to allow him to succeed at the level beyond us is his ability to solve problems and learn lessons,” Giffard said.
A tough lesson Amorosino that had to learn came when he showed up to fall practice one year out of shape.
“It was a summer I had gone to Italy and stayed with my grandma for a long time,” Amorosino said. “I came back and I wasn’t entirely used to the college game I think. I think at that point I didn’t entirely understand what a season would entail. And so I came back and I wasn’t entirely fit to play and that affected me throughout the season. Next season I came back and made sure to be one of the fittest guys because I knew what a mistake I had made, and I wasn’t going to make it again.”
After learning from his mistake, establishing himself in the VCU lineup, then switching to the left side of the field, Amorosino spent this past summer learning a new position: striker. Playing with PDL (Premier Development League) side Portland Timbers U23, Amorosino filled a vacancy up top and led the Timbers with eight goals and two assists in 14 regular season games. He was second on the team with 1,102 regular-season minutes and scored a playoff goal.
“If you count the exhibitions, I think he had 12 or 13 goals. That’s a lot of goals,” Giffard said. “There’s a lot of MLS first or second round picks that don’t score 12 or 13 goals in the PDL.”
Amorosino wasn’t recognized on any All Atlantic-10 team at the end of last season, nor was he a preseason all-conference selection. But he scored the first goal of the 2017 season just two minutes into the season-opener against Oakland. He won’t dazzle you with otherworldly skill, because he’s an everyman’s player. He works hard. He does his job, and he’s effective.
“He’s that guy that plays on your Monday night team,” Giffard said. “He’s not really any different than anybody else. He just puts a little more in, spends a little more time, sacrifices a little more.”
Giffard also thinks that will propel Amorosino to play at the next level.
“He’s a pro now. He’s got a pro mentality, he’s got a good idea of the game and approaches things the right way,” Giffard said. “And he’s a guy that honestly goes really under-recognized for what he brings to the table.”