Photo courtesy of Calgary Foothills FC
Whether he suits up for the University of Calgary in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association or for Calgary Foothills FC in the Premier Development League, Dominic Russo has no problems scoring goals.
The 22-year-old forward is coming off an impressive year for both teams, and he will look to keep that momentum going for Foothills FC in the 2017 PDL regular season against the TSS FC Rovers on Friday.
Scoring a club-high six goals, Russo led Foothills FC to an 8-3-3 record during the regular season in 2016 and then helped the PDL club win the Western Conference Championship while scoring four goals throughout the PDL Playoffs. He earned PDL All-League Team honors and a finalist for the PDL MVP award.
“Dominic Russo is the perfect No. 9 in the way that he can operate as a lone center forward and occupy two central defenders, or play as a twin striker when having two up front,” Foothills FC Technical Director and Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. told USLPDL.com. “His pace and power are exceptional and make him tough to deal with, as he can play in a system that needs his power to break through or as a target man with a clever, deft touch to bring others into the game.
“His goal-scoring record in the Canadian University system with the Dinos [University of Calgary] is outstanding, and his PDL records keep improving, hence why he was named in the All-PDL team of 2016. If a USL or MLS club doesn’t pick him up soon, then he will most certainly find a place in the proposed Canadian Professional League in 2018.”
Following his eye-opening summer, Russo scored 15 goals and recorded nine assists for the Dinos in Canada West. The talented forward competed against Foothills FC teammate Ajeej Sarkaria for the conference’s goal-scoring crown, and their friendly battle led Sarkaria to set a new Canada West single season goal-scoring record with 19.
“He was a lot more competitive because the year before, I had won the top goal-scorer title for Canada West, so I wasn’t really worried about that,” Russo told USLPDL.com. “I really wanted our team to do well. Their team really made a big deal about. They wanted to beat me because I had a little arrogance from the year before. They would pump him up, and he would take all the penalties.
“It was really good competition. I loved it. He would text me all the time, saying: ‘I scored today.’ I didn’t know how many goals I was at, so I would ask, ‘How many am I behind you now?’ It was good, friendly competition.”
Following his spectacular year, Russo considered making the jump to the professional level and even attended a trial with the United Soccer League’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. Wanting to focus on his studies and finish his degree, Russo decided not to pursue additional opportunities.
He and Sarkaria now share the same field on the same team for a second consecutive year, and Russo is eager to make a name for himself with just one more semester of college classes to complete.
“I just want to keep getting my name out there because I’m still young,” Russo said. “I’m under 23, so I think the PDL is the best way to do that in North America. Hopefully, something else pops up and there is another opportunity for me to go pro somewhere.
“I think I’m a good hold-up striker, and that opens up a lot of opportunities for me for the rest of my game.”
Russo showed off his strength, speed and one-on-one abilities throughout the 2016 PDL campaign, and after sitting out of Foothills FC’s first two games due to a preseason knock, he is ready to go for the club in Week 3.
“I’ve grown up with a lot of the guys on the team,” Russo said, “so traveling with them and spending the whole summer with them is the best.”