Meet The Team: Midfielder Rafa Mentzingen
December 18, 2018
This is part of our series where we reach out to Lansing Ignite players and coaches in an effort to get to know them before the season starts. Today we talk to midfielder Rafa Mentzingen. He was one of the most popular players to ever play for Lansing United. We talk to him here about his return to Lansing.
Westen Shelton: For those who aren’t familiar with you, can you tell me where you play on the field, and a little about the way you play the game? What do you think The Assembly Line will enjoy most about watching you play for Ignite?
Rafa Mentzingen: Hello Ignite fans, for those that do not know me yet, I like to play on the wing, but I can also play as an attacking midfielder. I really like the transition moments where I can take advantage of the space and take defenders on 1v1. I think that the Assembly Line will enjoy the energy and the speed I will bring into the games. Especially going forward.
WS: Can you tell me a little about your personal past and how you ended up getting into the sport? I know you grew up in Brazil. How did you deal with the culture shock of coming to a new country?
RM: As a kid I was deemed about being a soccer player. I grew up in Brazil and soccer has always been my favorite activity. I started playing when I was 4 and I don’t plan on stop playing anytime soon. Coming to the U.S almost 4 years ago was very challenging. New language, friends, culture, food, etc. However, I’ve made the most of it since I arrived here and I have made great memories and lifetime friendships in this country. I think that my flexibility was a key characteristic that allowed me to adapt so quickly.
WS: When I asked Nate Miller about his favorite United memories a few weeks ago, he talked about how his favorite part was watching certain guys grow and realize their talent. You were one guy in particular he made sure to mention. He talked about the confidence you gained and how you played with no fear for United. Can you tell me a little bit about how you feel you grew under Nate the first time around, and what it means to be able to play for him again, professionally this time?
RM: I think I’ve developed my game a lot with Nate as a coach. He is a great young coach that enjoys the beautiful game just like I do. He gave me a lot of confidence and freedom just like I needed to perform well. I learned a lot with Nate and I hope to grow even more with him as a coach next season. It means a lot to me to play for him again, not only because of who he is as a coach but also as a person. Nate is a great character that will work as hard as he can to bring trophies to Lansing.
WS: It has been a year and a half since Lansing fans have really been able to watch you play. How would you say your game has changed or developed at all since you last played for United?
RM: I think I’ve became a better defense player since last time I played for Lansing. I also think I understand the game better. I am ready to do what the coaching staff asks me to do in order to help the team accomplish our goals.
WS: What was your favorite moment you have ever had on a soccer field?
RM: My favorite moment playing soccer in probably from 2017 when I scored 2 goals against Lansing United’s rival Ann Arbor F.C. The last goal almost in the last minute really gave me a feeling that I can not describe with words.
WS: What hobbies do you have when you aren’t playing soccer?
RM: I really enjoy playing FIFA, watching movies and hanging out with my friends.
WS: One thing I’ve heard multiple times from members of “The Ransom” is that you really embraced the city of Lansing. Can you tell me a little about what you enjoy about this area?
RM: Although I’ve only lived in Lansing for 3 months, I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the city. I did some coaching with local kids and I really enjoyed the love and care they showed towards me. I went back a couple of times to visit friends and it always brings back the good memories I have from my time in Lansing. I am looking forward to live there again and play the sport that I love.