Connecticut native Joe Brito is the New England Revolution academy player of the year, but his reputation is spreading through the South as he is coming off an excellent rookie season at University of North Carolina Charlotte.
"He has come in and done incredibly well in his first year,” Charlotte head coach Kevin Langan said. “He is obviously an attacking player with wonderful ideas – wonderful balance. He has forced his way into the lineup.”
The 18-year-old true freshman was second on the team in assist with four and scored one goal, playing in 18 games, and about half the minutes available.
Brito said he felt he fit right in with the 49ers, but college was an adjustment from the Revs academy.
With the Revs, he said, he was "given the freedom to express myself" with offensive creativity.
Charlotte places more of an emphasis on defense, maintaining team shape and winning games.
Both are extremely competitive, he said.
Charlotte is two or three players deep at every position, so you are always fighting for a spot on the squad, he said.
"If you don't perform, you can lose your job," he said.
Brito said his dream is to play professionally after he is done with college and the Revs academy has helped prepare him for that.
Enduring three-hour round trip drives from his former home in Bolton, Conn. to Foxboro three times a week for training was a bit of a hassle, but it was well worth it as lifted his game, he said.
The Benfica fan describes himself as a technical player with good vision and a soft touch.
He said he is good in tight spaces and loves delivering through balls that lead to goals.
Langan agrees Brito's Revolution training made him a better player.
“He is coming from an MLS academy. He received valuable coaching in an organized environment. He was with their reserve team during the preseason and so he got a lot of valuable experience,” Langan said.
The reserve team reference is about the two preseason exhibition games Brito played in against MLS competition with the Revs' first team last winter in Arizona.
The first scrimmage was against the Chicago Fire and Brito said he was "crazy" nervous.
During the second game against Colorado Rapid, he said he was more calm and believes he played well.
This fall he played mostly on the outside at Charlotte, but see himself as a central, playmaking midfielder.
His best games in college, he said, came when he played the number 10.
Brito's family has moved to the Charlotte area, which is one of the reasons he chose to go to school there, but he still hopes to train with the Revs this summer.
In the meantime, the 5'8", 150 pound playmaker wants to concentrate on getting stronger and faster.
"This has been an awesome experience. I wouldn't change a thing," he said.