When goaltender Matt Perrella called his mentor to discuss how to handle the Major Arena Soccer League’s free agency period, he never expected the call to end with a contract. It doesn’t hurt when your mentor is the general manager of Utica City FC.

Deciding to come to Utica may have not been what Matt Perrella thought would happen, but having a previous relationship with Tommy Tanner helped make the decision easy.

 “I picked Utica because of my past relationship with Tommy Tanner, who was my coach in Syracuse,” Perrella said. “So, I was familiar with him, the type of team he was trying to build, and the style of team play, so that made me comfortable with considering Utica.”

It won’t take long for Perrella to rekindle his relationship with Andrew Coughlin, as the two were teammates on Syracuse a few seasons back. Coincidentally, Perrella and Coughlin’s sister, Alexis, both attended Rider University at the same time. 

 “The biggest thing for me is the fact that I am going to be able to come in and compete and work with Andrew and we are going to make each other better goalkeepers,” the 27-year-old keeper said. “I want to contribute to what I hope is a championship team.”

With a game that is played at a break-neck pace, a clear mind and calm presence is required in goal. Perrella possesses both of those traits and knows that he will be required to start many of the team’s counter-attacks. 

“I feel really good about my ability to communicate and organize the team and be more of a calming presence in a game that is so fast-paced,” he said. “I really like to play with the ball at my feet and I know that (head coach) Ryan Hall likes to build from the goalkeeper.”

Utica City FC’s biggest claim to fame during its inaugural season was the raucous crowds and un-matched energy at the Adirondack Bank Center. As a goaltender for the Harrisburg Heat a season ago, Perrella knows what it feels like to be at The AUD wearing enemy colors. The next time he suits up in the building, he’ll have a full house yelling for him and not at him.

“I’m looking forward to the crowd at every home game whether I am on the field or not,” he said. “The energy of the fans in that arena was better than anywhere else that I got to play. That is always something a team can rally behind.”

In the end, the choice to play for Utica was a no-brainer for Perrella. To be able to work with Andrew Coughlin and Tommy Tanner again will help make the transition to a new team feel seamless. 

What else did Perrella miss when he was away from the team? 

“Workouts with Bo,” he laughed