When on the field, Rhinos midfielder Leslie “Tiger” Fitzpatrick plays much bigger than his size. Listed at 5’6”, the native of Port of Spain, Trinidad can be seen breaking up tackles and starting a counterattack, all in one sequence and against the best players an opponent has to offer.
Having formerly played for Real Salt Lake in MLS and the Atlanta Silverbacks in USL-1, Tiger brought his work ethic and personality (and dreadlocks) last season to Rochester, a place he sees much potential in. “The pedigree and history of this club combined with the players, coaches, and staff we have here now make bringing home a championship an attainable goal. The city itself is very sport-oriented, with numerous teams and passionate fans,” Fitzpatrick said.
Tiger describes his adjustment to Rochester as accommodating and somewhat easy. Coming to Rochester was something that he really looked forward to, as he knew that the amount of success that not only the club has attained, but also other teams in the area, was only going to motivate him even more. He says he hasn’t been here in the winter but is a little used to the colder weather after traveling to New York City and playing out west in Salt Lake City.
The adjustment has also been made a bit easier by the addition of defender/assistant coach Brent Sancho, who is also from Port of Spain, Trinidad. This past winter, they had been training together and Sancho was eventually brought to Rochester to serve the dual role. Having played with each other for about 12 years, the on-and-off the field chemistry between the two allows them to understand each other very well and Tiger said he is pleased to have his fellow countryman here with him in Rochester.
When it comes to describing his play on the field, Tiger likes to be seen as multi-dimensional. “I like the fact that I can play both ways, whether its passing well and working with teammates going forward or coming back on defense and winning balls”, he stated. This wide-array of skill sets puts Fitzpatrick in a pivotal role for the team, with opposing sides looking to him as one of the focal points of Rochester’s game. He went on to say, “I feel that I have to command the field once I step foot on it. When I play well, so does the team for the most part.”
Part of his development has stemmed from his past experiences with the Trinidad & Tobago National team in 2001 and at the under 15, under 17 and under 20 levels. He also played in Europe for Rhoda JC (Holland) at the age of 16. While at Real Salt Lake, Tiger played in 18 matches in 2006 and recorded two assists. During his stint in Atlanta in 2004 he played in 27 matches, amassing one goal and one assist. This wealth of experience has allowed Fitzpatrick to become the consistent performer he is today.
Off the field, Tiger is one of the most personable people you will ever meet. At first meeting, the friendly and open easy-going attitude he has will draw you to him. It seems as if he carries this personality to the field, because he’s always so calm with the ball at his feet but focused and intense with purpose as well.
With a couple months to go in the current season, the Rhinos look poised to make another postseason run. Tiger will look to help keep Rochester near the top of the pecking order of elite teams in the USL-1. “In order to accomplish our goals, we need to make sure we work hard every day at practice, stay healthy, and play within ourselves. Our goal every year is to win the championship, so we have a responsibility to put in the preparation that will give us a better chance of being successful.”
Best of luck to Tiger and the rest of the Rhinos as they continue the duration of the 2009 season!