February 4, 2013
By Adam Burrows
Revs hope Horth’s productivity translates to MLS
New England Soccer News Contributor
FOXBOROUGH, Mass.--The ability to score goals is never something to sneer at, even if they’re registering in the collegiate Division III Commonwealth Coast Conference or in the second-tier professional North American Soccer League.
23-year-old Matt Horth has proven he can put the ball in the back of the net in the soccer backwater. Now he’s hoping to prove his skills on the MLS stage.
“There’s nothing like seeing the ball hit the back of the net,” acknowledged Horth. “It’s one of those things, as a kid, you just go out and keep shooting. It’s definitely a natural ability for me.”
Coming out of Akron, Ohio, Horth passed up big-time college programs to play for coach Jake DeClute, now an assistant with the Vancouver Whitecaps, at tiny Gordon College, a Christian school on Boston’s suburban North Shore.
“I was looking at a bunch of Division 1 offers,” recounts Horth, “but I knew the coach and knew his pedigree, and I said if I had any desire to play under the best coach I could, that’s the guy to do it. It was a bit of a sacrifice going to a D-3 school but I don’t regret it. Going to a D-3 school may have helped me develop other areas of my game I wouldn’t have otherwise. So it could be a positive, it could be a negative, but I wouldn’t go back and undo it.”
Horth notched 37 goals and 20 assists in college and was named to the All-CCC First Team in each of his four years, though his production fell from fifteen tallies in his freshman campaign to five as a senior.
The collegian also found time to get a look at MLS competition, though it was from the back end of the net.
“During my college years I actually came down for a couple of Revs games and sat in the Fort, or stood rather, so it’s pretty cool being on the other side of the stands and playing for the team.”
After college, Horth advanced to the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL and regained his scoring touch.
Over two seasons, Horth found the net eighteen times in 49 appearances and caught the eye of Revolution General Manager Michael Burns.
"He’s a talented young player who had a strong record of scoring goals in the NASL,” said Burns in announcing Horth’s signing on January 25th. “We believe has the potential to take the next step and do well for our club."
In 2013, the Revolution will be looking for goals wherever they can find them.
In going 9-17-8 and finishing outside the playoffs for the third straight season, the Revolution managed only 39 goals (1.15 per game) in 2012, a distant fourteenth behind league leaders and Supporter’s Shield winners San Jose (72 goals, 2.12 per game).
And the Revolution will start the new season without the services of scoring leader Saer Sene, who netted eleven times before going down with a season-ending ACL tear on August 28th.
After undergoing surgery, the Frenchman is back in cleats and doing light workouts with the team, but he’s not projected to be game-ready until late April at the earliest.
With Honduras international Jerry Bengtson facing World Cup Qualifying and Gold Cup call-ups in another crowded international calendar, New England has only the unproven Dimitry Imbongo returning from its 2012 striker corps.
And with Head Coach Jay Heaps determined to bulk up the Revolution lineup and strengthen the air game, the door is open for Horth’s imposing 6’3” 195 pound frame to stride through.
“Matt was someone we brought in and he’s doing well,” noted Heaps at a recent training session. “He’s scored at each level he’s been at, last year in Atlanta and before that in college. I think he’s still developing but he’s had a couple of sessions where he’s scored a lot of goals for us. We like that but we don’t want to rely too much on him. Dimitry’s fighting him for the spot. Diego (Fagundez) is looking really good as a forward right now. We’ll still obviously in talks with some re-entry players; Chad Barrett is another opportunity, another option. And then we brought in Jordan Green, he’s a college kid, a Discovery player; he didn’t get drafted. So there’s a good fight there. We know Jerry (Bengtson) will be with us quite a bit but you never know when he’s going to get called up.”
Horth is enjoying his first MLS training camp (“it’s fun to play with good players”) and is working to adapt his game to top-flight conditions.
“Receiving the ball with a guy on my back. Just sharpening that up. I’ve always been good at it, but getting the ball at MLS pace with a big ogre on my back and trying to hold him off, I think that’s the biggest thing, but everything else with time will fall into place.”
But Horth knows exactly what it will take to stay in the big time.
“Prove that I can score goals here."