Often unnoticed

USF midfielder Erwin Suarez just wants to win.

At the same time, he knows his role as the team’s oldest player is to lead the young newcomers by subtle example.

Although Suarez is just in his second season with the Bulls, he has, in the seven games he has started this year, tallied two assists with two shots on goal in 384 minutes of playing time. His statistics may not seem like much, but coach George Kiefer knows just how hard Suarez has worked to be where he is.

“Erwin is a very, very solid player,” Kiefer said. “He came (to the team) very fit this year, and he has been giving us a lot of good minutes. I’m happy for him, and I’m happy with the year that he is having.”

Suarez came to USF in 2003 from Nelson Cupello’s Monroe Community College in New York where he posted 57 points on 20 goals and 17 assists through two seasons. As one of only five seniors on the team, he leads the team in his own quiet way.

“(The new players) seem good from the beginning,” Suarez said, “So we don’t have too many problems or trouble with the team.”

Suarez is looking to rebound after the disappointing 2003 season, where he feels there were too many missed chances.

This year, he aims to make his team be a more productive unit. And to do this, Suarez knows he must provide an image of teamwork that will bring the players closer to the team goal: winning the C-USA Tournament.

“Most of (our) players, if not all of them, are good soccer players,” Suarez said. “But for me, it’s Rodrigo (Hidalgo). He’s a good soccer player, and he’s young. I like the way he plays. He’s a real humble guy, and that will make him better.

“I try to do the best for myself and for the team and just do better this season than last season. I want to finish my college soccer career with a good season.”Suarez and the Bulls (5-0-2) continue their season Sunday, when they travel to University Park in Miami to face FIU (3-3-0) at 7 p.m.

The Golden Panthers are 9-11-2 all time versus USF, including a 1-0 victory over the Bulls last season. Kiefer will be looking for his first win in his third meeting with FIU.

“FIU is a very, very strong team,” Kiefer said. “They brought (their players) back and lost to UCLA 2-1 in the Sweet Sixteen. They’re a very seasoned tournament team, a senior-loaded group. It’s going to be a fun game for us.

“We know FIU is going to try to beat us, and we know they are going to come at us. We’re just preparing ourselves to get pressure on the ball. (FIU) isn’t one of these teams that is going to sit back and try and hope for a goal. They’re going to come at us, and we’re going to come at them, but we’re ready for FIU.”

On Wednesday, USF’s game against FAU was canceled due to inclement weather. The game will not be rescheduled.