Men’s Soccer: Head coach Joey Worthen congratulates the team on a historic season, desires to take the next step for the fall

It was Worthen’s first winning season as FAU’s head coach and the program’s first since 2007.


Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

Richard Pereira, Sports Editor

FAU men’s soccer head coach Joey Worthen looked back on the spring season as he was proud of the team for what they accomplished and wants to see them take the next step in the fall.

The team went 6-4-2 while going 3-4-0 in conference play. Not only was it Worthen’s first winning season at the helm since joining in 2017, but it was also FAU’s first overall winning season since 2007, where they went 11-7-2 (5-0-1 ASC) and won the Atlantic Soccer Conference tournament.

Four years ago when we started this, I had a vision and an idea of what we thought we could do and after the first couple years, it really makes you second-guess it when we’re not getting the results but we could see the incremental progress with the culture and players coming in and they’re buying into what we’re doing and into the culture,” Worthen said. “While it didn’t directly translate into results, you could start to see it developing and things starting to get put in place.”

The defense made the Owls stand out throughout the season, only conceding 11 goals as it’s their best defensive performance in team history. According to Worthen, the team looked at how they performed in 2019 as they focused on eliminating the number of goals they were allowing to improve defensively.

“The top teams in the conference were giving up less than a goal a game, so we stressed that and really made an emphasis on training of a few areas that we felt like we could improve on to eliminate some of those goals that we were giving up,” Worthen said. “I give the guys credit because they bought into it, we asked them to do things that they weren’t used to or that may be a little bit unnatural and collectively as a team, they bought into it.”

One of the crucial keys to that defense was junior goalkeeper Neil Strauber. He played every game as he made 35 saves and earned four clean sheets that created important strides to the defense this season.

“I think because of his maturity, he can direct the team and have a big voice even though he’s only been here for a year, but I expect that to then even grow as we go into next year and be able to take more control over the team, especially in tight moments,” Worthen said. “When we get into conference games and we need some of that leadership, I think he’s a guy that can certainly help bring it so I expect big things from him.”

While Worthen kept the emphasis on congratulating the team’s performance, he was proud of the individual success on the team that was noticed by Conference USA. Senior forward Ivan Mykhailenko (First Team and co-Golden Boot), junior defender Graeme Pratt and junior midfielder Alonso Coello Camarero (Second Team), senior defender Daniel Skistad (Third Team), and Vasilis Spinos (All-Freshman) received honors from the conference.

“I think it’s clear that in the conference, people are starting to notice our team and even nationally, to get a player of the week is huge,” Worthen said. “I mean a couple years ago, you would have never even imagined that. People were taking notice and it’s exciting for the guys and they certainly deserve it.” 

Mykhailenko was the spotlight of FAU’s offense, scoring six goals in 10 games. Compared to his 2019 season where he scored seven in 16 games, he is scoring more goals at a faster pace as each season goes by.

“I think he’s got more in his game and I expect him to be a guy that’s scoring in bunches [to get up] there with one of the top goal scorers in the country,” Worthen said. “Hopefully through the summer and being able to come back with kind of an edge, he’s got a lot to prove still so yeah, we’re going to continue to ride him.”

Despite performing strong at home, FAU faced struggles on the road, particularly against the likes of FIU, Marshall, and Charlotte. 

“When we get into the conference part, it’s tough and those are three games that we felt like we could have gotten results from or points from three top teams in the country and that’s the reality of our conferences,” Worthen said. “We feel really confident that we can, especially with the progression of this program. That’s like the next big milestone; we got to get results on the road and that’ll certainly be a focus for the offseason.”

The one thing Worthen noticed when communicating with his players was they agreed that they fell short and are hungry to make a push next season in the fall.

“The guys are hungry, they want to continue to improve and they see like, ‘man, this was a great year, but we’re not content with this.’ I think that desire and hunger is what’s going to lead into and fuel our approach the next season,” Worthen concluded. “We’re really excited about the future, the future of the program and the trajectory that we’re on will continue to keep going that way.”

Richard Pereira is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.