JOSE "BATI" BATISTA
Queens, NY / Center-Midfielder
Bati played in the Olympic Development Program for the USA, which led him to call ups for the U-18 Youth National Team camps. After high school, he went to Brazil and signed a contract with Atletico Minero at the age of 18. Being too far from home, Bati returned to the USA where he joined Sevilla FCPR of the USL PRO. During his second season he suffered an injury and had to go through physical therapy. Bati joined the Knights to get back into professional form.
Jamaica / Striker
Dwayne grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. Prior to coming to the USA he played extensively with his community team Tivoli Gardens FC. In 2006, he attended Essex County College for 2 years before transferring to Bloomfield College. In his two years there he had 27 goals, 15 assists and was voted Player of the Year in the conference. Bouncing around club teams in the city, Dwayne looked to showcase his talent to scouts with the Knights.
Oakdale, NY / Centerback
Zachary grew up playing club soccer on Long Island for several premier league teams and was offered a scholarship to play soccer at Siena College (NCAA Division I). After graduating, he signed with the Knights for 2 seasons before going on trial with a pro club in Serbia. He was offered a 3 year contract, but was unable to secure a work visa. He returned to the USA to captain his club team in Astoria, NY (Istria) and rejoin the Knights. He hoped that playing for the new-look Knights would get him the recognition he deserves, and that elusive pro contract.
The USA is a unique place for breeding soccer talent. There are many different nationalities and cultures that make up the population, especially in a place like New York City. The Brooklyn Knights brought together a very diverse selection of talent, coming from all different backgrounds.
Not only do players come from different backgrounds, but they come from different paths. There is no one way to become a professional soccer player in this country, and for these guys - they paved their own road. Get to know some of the players from the Knights featured in Going Pro: American Soccer.
Bulgaria / Striker
Stefan grew up in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. He grew up playing for the local professional club. He was looking to transfer to bigger clubs, but when the transfers failed and his father won the green card lottery, he came to New York City. After various jobs in construction, he was given a scholoarship to play for Concordia College. Soon after completing his degree he went on a tryout for the Chicago Fire of the MLS and made the team. Due to internal politics, he left the team and pursued a career in finance. He joined the Knights to see if his dream of playing professionally was to continue.
New York, NY / Fullback
Although Rich grew up in New York, his family heritage goes back to France. After watching France win the World Cup in 1998, he promised himself he would go pro. He attended the IMG academy in Florida where scouts noticed his talent and offered him a spot to play for Carson-Newman University's soccer team. During his time there he joined top PDL club, Reading United. His desire to go pro had never been stronger as he hoped to impress the right person while playing with the Knights.
Brazil / Striker
Andre grew up in Sao Paulo Brazil and played professionally for his local club. Hearing that the game was growing in the USA, he moved here in search of more soccer opportunities. He signed a contract to play in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). He suffered an injury to his knee and after surgery, he looked to get back into pro form with the Brooklyn Knights.
Huntington, NY / Midfielder
Born in San Francisco, Mike moved to Florida where he played for the state team. He then joined the New York state team when he moved to Long Island. Playing for one of the best high school soccer teams in New York, Mike received a scholarship to play for Fordham University. Going into his senior year as captain, Mike joined the Knights to capitalize on his pivotal soccer year.
Smithtown, NY / Midfielder
Keith grew up playing for the Smithtown Gunners and the Met Oval U-18 Academy. He attended St. Anthony's High School where he was captain and helped lead them to a New York state Championship and #2 national ranking. He went on to play at Providence College where they made two NCAA tournaments and played in a Big East final. He joined the Knights the summer before his senior year at school.
Selden, NY / Midfielder
Kyle grew up playing club soccer for several premier teams on Long Island. He traveled to Brazil (Oscar Bernadi Soccer Camp) and Ecuador to experience different types of culture and soccer style. He was then offered a scholarship to play at Stony Brook University. Playing during the summer months was a necessity to stay in college form, and thats when Kyle joined the knights. He played there for 3 seasons during his college career.
Bronx, NY / Goalkeeper
Stefan played for Yonkers United and East Fishkill throughout high school. He moved on to play four years at Stony Brook University where he won 2 conference championships ('09 and '11). Stefan holds the record for both career wins and shutouts. In 2010, he finished 3rd for wins in a single season (10), eight of which were by way of shutout (2nd place in shutouts for a single season). After the Knights finished last the season before, Stefan joined them in order to provide the security in goal that they needed.
New York, NY / Striker
At the age of 5 Rapha was already signed up to a travel team, Asphalt Green, where he won many league titles and one state cup. At the age of 12 he joined the Brooklyn Italians. When he was 14 he went to Brazil and trained with the youth academy team, America Minero. The next year he joined the Brooklyn Knights Super Y League team. During the first year of the US Soccer Development Academy League, Rapha joined Gottschee. Rapha then received a scholarship to play at Stony Brook University. In 2009 and 2011, his team won the America East Conference. Entering his final season with the university, Rapha hoped to make the most of his final push to go pro by joining the Knights.
Jamaica / Centerback
Shea grew up playing soccer in Kingston, Jamaica. He moved to the USA and began playing for the MetOval Academy, which also runs the Brooklyn Knights. He has moved through their system and has joined their top level with the Knights.