Go behind the scenes with Utica City FC as a part of our City In Season interview series! 

Nelson Santana has added a quality veteran presence to Utica City FC's defense, anchoring the back end and providing expertise and tutelage to younger players on the team. He has scored two goals and tallied four assists this season— hear from one of the City's newest fan favorites!

You’re no stranger to Central New York, having played four seasons with Tommy Tanner’s Syracuse Silver Knights in the MISL from 2011-2015. What was that experience like and how did affect your decision to sign with Utica City FC?

Playing four seasons under Tommy Tanner for the Syracuse Silver Knights in the MISL from 2011 to 2015 was a great experience. Coming to Central NY to a new team in the league, I knew it was going to be exciting— through all those four seasons, Tommy [Tanner] put up a good team to compete on the field as well as inside the locker room. I knew we played hard and we always left everything on the field but we just couldn't get over the hump that was the Baltimore Blast.

It was an easy decision to come to UCFC because Tommy [Tanner] showed interest in wanting me to play for him again and Hewerton [Moreira] did as well. It never worked out in previous years because of contracts and timing— now, I'm here and hope that both are happy with their decision they made to bring me to UCFC.

How has the league grown and changed from a player’s perspective over your career?

The league has grown a ton and it's still growing with more expansion teams in the US and now in Mexico. From a player standpoint, we have faster and very technical players. There's lots of 1v1 skills and smaller body sizes compared to back in the day. From the team side of things, we used to be more tactical and defensive— now, it's more about who can score more goals will win the game.

But it's always been an exciting sport, no matter what age you are! When you come into an arena for the first time to watch an indoor game, I know for a fact those people are coming back or even buying season tickets.

Who’s your all-time Starting VI with players that you’ve played with?

Wow, what a question! It's a very, very difficult and personal question because I have made many friends through my career and have played with and against elite players from the league. I have won championships with great organizations and wining DNA, but I have to say the reason I'm choosing these players cause we worked very hard to become a good team from scratch:

 - Brian O'Quinn 

 - Darren Toby

 - Nelly 

 - Slavisa Ubiparipovic

 - Kenardo Forbes

 - Lil' Neto

Yes, Syracuse Silver Knights!

The burning question: run us through your hair care routine. 

Everyone asks me the same question every game— "what's in your hair?" or "what do I use in my hair?"

Well, I cut my own hair the day before a game then I style it with Gorilla Snot (Moco de Gorilla), some göt2b Glued (I'm just trying to contain my curls!) a bit of a blow drying, and then we're ready for the game! You look good, you feel good, you play good!

What was your most memorable soccer experience as a fan?

There's so many but having the chance to watch my beautiful Colombia in the World Cup, listening to our national anthem and the whole stadium singing together was beyond beautiful... actually, thinking about it again just brought tears to my eyes!

You’ve heard both the boos as an opposing player and loud cheers from the UCFC faithful while wearing blue and white. Talk about the atmosphere at the Adirondack Bank Center.

I don't mind the boos! I actually enjoy them because it gives me the edge to know that I'm doing something right that fans don't like— it's part of the game and show. 

Now, playing for UCFC is amazing! The atmosphere in the Adirondack Bank Center is always electric, loud and full of energy. Playing at home doesn't get any better. I know I can't wait for us to score to get the crowd going because our fans are the 7th man on the field. 

The energy the fans bring to the arena is nothing but fuel for us to just keep winning and scoring goals. Now we just need a championship banner! Let's go UCFC!

Utica City FC returns to the Adirondack Bank Center on Sunday, February 18th to take on the Milwaukee Wave. Tickets are still available at