Growing up in Sao Paulo, Leo Sosa was a centerback for the under-17 development team for Brazil.
Being in the middle of the back line was where Sosa felt at ease and it’s the position he played when arrived in the United States in the fall of 2014 for his freshman season at Cloud County.
So when Sosa came to FC Wichita last summer, it was with the assumption he would continue playing centerback. Larry Inlow, then the coach of FC Wichita and now its director of soccer operations, had another plan.
“Well, we were pretty set at centerback at the time, but he was a player that I knew we needed to be on the field,” Inlow said. “His vision and his touch are so good and he tackles like an animal. The only way we could get him playing time was a little further up the field.”
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What began as an experiment for Sosa playing the holding midfielder role has changed his career. He’s become a mainstay for FC Wichita (2-0), which plays host to Dallas City FC (2-2) on Saturday night, and had a successful sophomore campaign at Cloud City with 17 assists in 14 games.
Sosa said he received upwards of 25 offers to continue to his collegiate career and has narrowed it down to the University of Rio Grande, the defending NAIA national champion, and Friends University. Both want him as a holding midfielder.
“(Inlow) kind of opened my mind and he showed me that I do have the technique to playing in the middle,” Sosa said. “If I could choose where to play now between centerback and in the middle, I would pick in the middle. I really like being involved with the ball more.”
Inlow says FC Wichita couldn’t find a more ideal player to fit its formation than Sosa. The team needed someone to be the bridge between the midfield and Kevin Ten Eyck and Killian Gorman in the back.
Since he thinks like a centerback, Sosa’s presence in front of them is vital to a Wichita defense that has yet to allow a goal in two games of conference play. He also links up well with Carlos Contreras and Jeffrey Kyei in front of him, and is dangerous in the air on set pieces.
“It’s been awesome to see him firmly grasp that role for us,” Inlow said. “He’s a ball-winner in the middle for us and then he has an absolute rocket that if he lets loose, it will create a lot of good things for us.”
Sosa is surprised how well he has adapted to the new role and he is thankful to Inlow for pushing him outside of his comfort zone. It’s a move that has not only changed his career on the soccer field, but also his life away from the sport.
He now considers Wichita his home in the States and hinted that he would like to continue playing in the area.
“The people in the community have been so good to me,” Sosa said. “They make me feel like I’m at home, like I was born here. It has been an amazing experience.”
DALLAS CITY FC AT FC WICHITA
- When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday
- Where: Stryker Soccer Complex
- Records: Dallas 2-2, Wichita 2-0