MONTREAL – Eleven months ago, when Felipe came No. 5 in MLSsoccer.com's annual 24 Under 24 rankings, the message from an anonymous technical director or coach was clear: “With him, it’s now the consistency. You do it the first year, you surprise a lot of people, now to be consistent with his performance the next year.”
Many people, Felipe included, feel that his second MLS season falls somewhat short of his stellar 2012. His passing is not quite as crisp, he doesn’t draw as many fouls and he hasn’t played as many games in full.
Yet statistically, 21 games into this season, Felipe is ahead of his 2012 production. He registered three goals and five assists by that point last season; after his Goal of the Week candidate last week in Chicago, he currently has four goals and five assists.
“[Scoring] was important, because after a long time when I didn’t play so well with many ups and downs, it’s been good to come back,” Felipe told reporters on Wednesday. “And I think that if I can be the Felipe everybody knows again, it can be a good thing for the team in order to make the playoffs. I know that it’s not just about me, but for me, if I start to play well again, I can help the team a lot to make the playoffs.”
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If Felipe does admit to having correctly expected his second MLS season to be harder than the first, health issues did throw him a curveball. After an offseason sports hernia surgery and a bout of kidney stones in May, medication and recovery in the midst of a packed schedule proved to be tricky. “But a lot of it is mental,” says Felipe, who feels that fine performances only come with a fine attitude.
“Even at 22 years old, I have a lot of experience, and I played a lot of games,” he said. “But I’m still young and I have to learn, work and improve. I know that I can do better than last year. I know what I can demonstrate in this league, and I want to stay in this league. I will work every day to be better and show to everybody and to myself that we are a good team and that I can be a big name in this league.”