Jonathan Viscosi is no stranger to working his way up the ladder. The Canadian-born goalkeeper has molded his talent through years of dedication across the Atlantic, whether playing for English, Swedish or Finnish teams. On Jan. 17, Viscosi made his return to the North American continent, signing with San Antonio FC for the 2019 season. He has appeared and performed well in a number of games, providing a consistent veteran presence as the backup goalkeeper.
Recently, Viscosi talked with KSAT 12 to discuss his long and winding journey through soccer, from Ottawa to the Alamo City.
Why did you start playing soccer?
I come from an Italian backround, so it was just second-nature. It was the first sport I was put into. Obviously, growing up around hockey players all the time meant I had a quick stint in hockey. I quickly discovered that I definitely preferred being outside on a sunny Saturday than being in a cold ice rink on an early Saturday morning. The hockey culture is fantastic. It definitely shapes Canadians in a way of this hard-working, grinding mentality.
How did you wind up in San Antonio?
It's been quite a long road to get here. Just after I graduated from the University of Buffalo, I went to England. Through a mix of connections, I signed with a team and was told that if I showcase my skills, professional clubs could show interest in me. It was a semi-pro level in the eighth tier of the football pyramid -- seven leagues away from the Premier League. It was really tough at first, completely different to playing in the NCAA. In that first season, I played close to 50 games. I was thrown into the deep end. You're expected to play under any circumstances. There's no excuses for the pitches, the cold weather, the referee not giving you any protection. You just have to get on with it and play. I learned some harsh lessons, but developed quickly. It was a great education. It definitely shaped the kind of keeper I am today. Once I started to catch wind and do well, people started to hear about my name and asked, "Why is a Canadian playing in this league?" It didn't make any sense. As a result, I went to ten different clubs on trial throughout that season. During the preseason in league one, I dislocated my shoulder. Basically, I had to come back and recover, and ended up signing with Chester. Then I played two years in the conference. From there, I had an opportunity to go to Sweden in the third tier with Oskarshamns AIK. I played well there, then attracted a TPS from Finland in the second tier. I went there, we won the league, got promoted to the first tier -- where I played last year -- and now I'm here.
What was it like playing professional Euroean football?
It's everything I always dreamt of as a kid. Especially in England. The buzz around football is just so intense. On Saturdays, everybody plays, from the Premier League all the way down. Everybody is up for it. That was really an amazing experience. It was just as cool in Scandanavia. They're very passionate about supporting their local teams. TPS -- the team I played for in Finland -- is the second oldest club in the country. There's a lot of history there. We shared the stadium with our rivals, Inter Turku, and we had three derbys against them, which were really special. The stadium was full. It was a rockin atmosphere.
Was it difficult to adjust to the day/night cycle in Scandanavia?
When I first got there in the winter, it wouldn't get bright until 10 or 11 a.m. It was just constantly grey. Then in the summer, we would be coming back from a road trip around 2 or 3 a.m. and it's still a red sky. It doesn't get dark.
What attracted you to San Antonio FC?
I thought maybe it was time to come back to North America. San Antonio was the first club I spoke to and everything sounded right at the time, so I just jumped on it. The stadium, the facilities, the size of the club and basically the attention it gets well all similar to the team I was playing for. I want to play in the big club, and in the USL it seemed like one of the biggest ones.
How do you prepare as the backup goalkeeper?
I just have to make the most of my opportunities. I work hard in training to keep myself in form, so when I get my chance, it's a direct output of my training into the game. It's natural as a keeper. You need matches to find your form and fitness. I've enjoyed the occasions that I've had, am hoping for more to come and I'm pushing for that every day.