Michael Petrasso (pictured) is enjoying success with Queens Park Rangers in England and the Canadian national team program. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Soccer Association)
SUNRISE, Florida -- Heading into the 2013-14 season, Michael Petrasso’s expectations were a bit tempered.
Now, the 18-year old Canadian has meaningful minutes of first-team football under his belt and recently signed a new deal with Queens Park Rangers, which is one step away from a return to the Barclays Premier League.
Yes, at this point in time, it’s good to be Michael Petrasso.
“I got the opportunity and I guess I took it,” said Petrasso, a veteran of the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. “Playing 22 games in front of fans and playing competitive football has been really good for me and I’m happy to accomplish that. I just want to move forward from that, take it and keep going. Once you play some games you want to keep playing.”
Petrasso’s first-team experience this year came mostly from loan spells with Oldham and Coventry City. He scored for Oldham on his debut against Gillingham in a 1-0 win and netted for Coventry against Tranmere Rovers in a 3-1 defeat.
The winger was rewarded with a three-year contract last month and made his first team debut for QPR on May 3, coming on as a substitute in a 3-2 win over Barnsley.
“It helps your confidence, being 18-years-old and getting the opportunity to play first-team football, especially in England, which is one of the best countries in the world for football,” Petrasso noted. “Learning from the players there and the competitiveness of the games there helps my skills and my will to compete, helps me learn a bit more of the game. I think being out there and playing there helps me out massively going forward.”
He is hoping to bring some of what he’s learned in England and sharing it with his teammates on the Canada U20 squad.
“I’ve gained experience and, hopefully, I can bring it back to the boys, some of the boys that haven’t played first-team football team yet,” he enthused. “Hopefully they can learn off me a little bit.”
Last week, Petrasso -- who scored a hat-trick against Barbados during the group stage of the 2011 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship -- was with the U20 national team for a training camp in Sunrise, Florida, under the guidance of new coach Rob Gale.
The objective is to build a squad for the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship with an eye towards qualifying for the next FIFA U-20 World Cup, in which Canada hasn’t participated since hosting the competition in 2007.
“Qualifying is the one thing on my mind now,” Petrasso concluded. “Going to the last U-20s and not getting that chance to qualify was very disappointing, so this year we’re hoping this is our year. All the coaches and all team are all pushing for it.”