Cila reflects on father's influence
It's a typical Father's Day at the Cila's house in Jericho, N.Y. The sun is shining, the grill is ready and of course, the soccer game is on.
For New York Red Bulls midfielder/forward Jordan Cila, he has always been surrounded by the 'beautiful game.' Part of it is his inherent love for the sport, but a lot of it has to do with his father, Renato.
Renato played professional soccer with Brazilian powerhouse Corinthians, Spanish side Atletico Madrid, Portugal's Espinho and even in the old North American Soccer League (NASL). It is a pretty impressive resume.
And with that kind of success in one's career, it would probably be easy to become ungrounded. However, Renato taught his children, including Jordan, the importance of selflessness, humility and planning ahead.
"That's something he always talks about as being the most important thing, to enjoy the moments and taking away the best memories you can and preparing for life after soccer," Jordan says.
Renato made a pretty good coach, too. Not only did he teach Jordan how to read the game better and learn to make better decisions on the field, but he also was kind to others who wanted to learn about soccer. Jordan says that Renato has never coached for money or tangible incentives - "He does it out of his soul."
"Every single person loves playing for him and loved being trained by him," says Jordan, who remembers in his first year with the Colorado Rapids when his teammates in the locker room would jokingly say, "We don't care about you, where's your father?"
But, Jordan says that it is off the field where his father made the biggest imprint on his life. As a budding prospect, Jordan played for both the U-20 and U-17 U.S. squads and was on the roster for the 1999 Youth Championships - a team which finished a surprising fourth place and featured current American standouts such as Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Taylor Twellman.
His future in soccer looked bright and he had a number of offers to play overseas and MLS. However, Renato's lesson about being mindful of life after soccer stuck with Jordan and he eschewed the professional opportunities to go to college at Duke.
"Every time, every year, I just evaluated the offers with my parents and we both agreed. Was it the best soccer decision for me to stay in school? Absolutely not. But was it the best life decision? I think so," Jordan says.
At Duke, Jordan played fairly well but by the time he graduated, he went undrafted. But, he worked his way onto Colorado in 2004 and made an impression there, scoring four goals and two assists while playing in 21 games. Though his road to professional soccer was unconventional for someone of his pedigree, Jordan, who graduated with a sociology degree and had a Markets and Management certificate, has no qualms about his decision.
"I made it to the league, I've had success in the league before and it was hard to get here but I took a different path and I have no regrets," Jordan says.
Since Jordan is now closer to home, he is able to partake in his favorite father-son activity with Renato, which is of course, watching soccer games. Father's Day this year was especially sweet for the Cilas - the Brazil-Australia game (Renato is Brazilian) was on.
"I always make sure that I get home for those games," Jordan says. "He's one guy I love to watch Brazil with. He knows so much about the team and he watches the game with such a smart soccer mind that it's [enjoyable]."
In the end, Jordan hopes to implant the same values that his father taught him to younger players, because without Renato's lessons, the 24-year-old says that he would have never reached his goal of becoming a professional soccer player.
"There's no question that I wouldn't be here in any way without the help and support he's provided me," Jordan says. "Just getting me to this level and preparing me afterwards, it's invaluable. There's no price on that."