On Tuesday, Whitecaps FC 2 announced the addition of centre back Dominick Zator to their roster ahead of Saturday’s USL season opener at LA Galaxy II.
In order to learn more about the 22-year old defender’s game, whitecapsfc2.com reached out to the people who know Zator best on the pitch – Calgary Foothills FC technical director Tommy Wheeldon Jr., University of Calgary head coach Brendan O’Connell, and... Dominick himself.
Here's the lowdown on what WFC2 fans can expect from the team's newest acquisition.
MODERN DAY CENTRE BACK
Tommy Wheeldon Jr.: He is a modern day centre back with exceptional pace and athleticism, along with great composure to bring the ball out of the back.
Brendan O’Connell: His strengths are his pace, his reading of the game, and how he tracks opponents. He enjoys defending and he can play multiple positions - right back, centre half, and you can push him into the midfield. He’s amazing at covering his teammates because of his speed. He’s very fit which you have to be playing the modern game.
Dominick Zator: I'm a composed centre back, I like to think the game through. I'm more of a skillful player that can play the ball forward. I'm not the most brute centre back but I think the game more strategically. I take my space and feed balls through the middle with quick attacks.
O’Connell: Dominick has a great temperament. He’s shown over the years that I’ve coached him his leadership qualities and that he’s a team player, outside of all of his abilities on the field, of course. He leads by example and he's very coachable.
Wheeldon: He is resilient. Having known Dominick since he was 11 years old, I have watched him survive the roller coaster of development. He has the maturity and the calm demeanour. He never lets set backs hold him down, and he does not get carried away with successes. He just gradually improved through every environment he was placed in.
Zator: The PDL has helped me develop and progress for the pro level. I'm a focused player, I like to become a leader both on and off the pitch. Mentally, preparing for games, it's like going into a battle. You just have to be focused and you're going into every game ready to make the most of it. Training with Oxford United FC was a phenomenal experience, developing and seeing where I stand. It's your job to go to every game and every training, you have to have the mental attitude to bring your best and bring the best out of your teammates.
IN THE CLUTCH
Wheeldon: Zat's calm presence on the field ensured we never got carried away emotionally. He came up big in a few games, especially the final league game of the year when we were 2-0 down versus Seattle Sounders U23’s, with the conference and a home playoff match on the line. He stepped up and got us back in the game with a goal of his own and drove the team to a 3-2 win. He also scored the winning goal in the Western Conference final versus FC Tucson.
Zator: Those kinds of games, I just have a passion for. It gets me really excited to play these big games. Pressure situations, where you have to perform - they bring out the best of me.
IN THE LOCKER
O’Connell: He always led by example. He was never one to shout at others or anything like that. He’s the quiet type that led from his performances on the field and he was really consistent. Out and out, he was a fantastic captain for us, and a star for our program. He went with [Dinos and Foothills FC teammate] Dominic Russo to Oxford United FC and he didn’t look out of place in their professional group.
Zator: I bring people together, and try to get everybody on the same page. If the team works in unison, I feel like I'm doing my job. I'm fairly calm and I make sure everyone's relaxed going in.
Zator: I've followed Brett Levis' path [from CIS to USL PDL then WFC2 and MLS] and played against him. When he was at Saskatchewan, he was playing as their number 10 and he would be coming at me all the time. I could tell at that stage that he was meant to be playing at a higher level. The way he progressed, playing in CIS (now U Sports) and USL PDL, going through each of the steps, it shows that other players can do it too. It's the same way I want to go about it - just strive like he did, go through everything with my head up and grind it out.
O’Connell: Dominick has been persistent in his pursuit and he’ll have to carry that on. Persistence is the key. He’ll get knock backs, injuries, and he’ll have some spells of loss of form, but he’ll have to be mentally tough to get through it and he’ll have to have the persistence to get through it. In saying that, he’s got all that.
Wheeldon: He is made for the MLS. He has the athleticism, technique and mentality of a modern day defender and I won’t be surprised if I see him advance up into the MLS team at some point in the next year or two. Watch this space.
Zator and Whitecaps FC 2 open their season on Saturday, March 25 when they visit LA Galaxy II. Watch the match live on whitecapsfc2.com.