BY JOHN ACE
California native Jose Cuevas has returned to the Battery after a season away at PDL side Fresno Fuego, from whom he joined the Battery in 2012. He spoke to me today for a short interview about his second coming.
JA: How long has this been on the cards? When did it really come about? The season for Fresno ended about two weeks ago, didn’t it?
JC: Yeah, well, it ended yesterday, but for us, it did, because we didn’t make the playoffs. The coach there knew I was the top player in assists, and goals in (the PDL), and realized I needed to play (at a higher level). I then got the chance to come back here and play, and I took it.
JA: What’s it like coming back into the side, having been away for awhile? How does it feel to be back in Charleston?
JC: Obviously, I’ll have to get used to the humidity, with the heat being different in California, as well as the squad and the way the players play and things like that, but it feels good to be back.
JA: And how does it feel playing with the squad again? Is there any difference?
JC: I was surprised by the welcome I got back from the players. The respect I got from them and stuff. It showed me that I was more important to the team than I thought I was, and I was really grateful for it.
I was surprised by this answer, considering that, during Jose’s first stint in the yellow and black, he was a key part of the Battery attack. He would usually play in behind the striker, or on the wing, while more often than not, there would be Dane Kelly, whom he had a decent partnership with. Jose being the small, skilled guy as opposed to Kelly’s tall frame and pace up front. This led to many a goal by both Dane and Jose, who would sometimes interchange positions to suit play.
JA: And what have the fans been like?
JC: The fans have been great. I kind of expected them to have a little grudge against me for leaving, but I’ve seen the responses I’ve gotten, on social media, and even out at training and stuff. As soon as I announced I was coming back, I was really quickly welcomed back and there’s been people at training who’ve recognized me and come up to me like “You’re Jose! You played for us before! Glad to have you back!” And it makes me feel really good.
JA: Obviously it’s been tough this season, losing most of the spine of the team, like Azira, Paterson and Ellison, and you as well. How does it feel playing with some of the newer guys who have come in?
JC: I haven’t really been able to judge quite yet. We played an exhibition last night and all, but that was my first time playing with them. Over the next week, with the game on Saturday and then Tuesday it should give me a better feel for their strengths and things.
JA: One of the main problems we’ve had is in the final third of the pitch. We can defend well, we can keep possession, but we just don’t have that “bite” in attack.
JC: Yeah, I’ve even been told that by some of the players, and coach talked to me about that already, and he knows we need to finish our chances and things like that, and he said it was right up my alley. That’s why he brought me back.
JA: Cause right now, it’s what we need…
JC: Yeah, I hope I can come back and work with the guys that are already here and we can make a late push. Then we’ll see what happens.
And so with that, Jose Cuevas has started his new chapter with the Battery. Obviously happy to be back, one would expect him to feature in the Battery’s next game away to Richmond on Saturday.