Remember Ruben Bover? Of course you do: he's the journeyman attacking midfielder whose quest for professional soccer led him to leave his home country (Spain) at 17 and join England's Kidderminster Harriers - a non-league club at the time (and still).
Bover's persistence carried him through four clubs in four years, before he landed with the New York Red Bulls for the 2013 season. His first start for RBNY was Mike Petke's first competitive match as head coach of the team: the 3-3 draw in Portland. And he was the first casualty of Petke's decision to abruptly switch away from his initial game plan in favor of a more cautious tactical approach (an approach subsequently vindicated by the Supporters' Shield).
Bover fell out of favor, ultimately logging only 125 minutes in the 2013 league campaign. But he worked his way back into Mike Petke's confidence over the course of 2014. By the end of his second season, he was a regular substitute for RBNY, had logged starts in CONCACAF Champions League, and scored his first goal in MLS.
And then he was gone. When the club hit the reset button at the end of the 2014 season, it was likely a number of players acquired on Petke's watch would be cleared out to allow for a new squad to be built around a new set of tactical priorities and preferences. Bover clung on for most of the 2015 pre-season, but was cut on March 12.
A 22-year-old (at the time) pro seeking his sixth club since would be forgiven for starting to re-assess career options. But Bover's actions tell us he is a determined individual - and he landed with the New York Cosmos in April, and was promptly sent to the club's B team.
Scarcely six months after that first MLS goal, Bover was looking at a season to be played in NPSL: a predominantly amateur league. He would hardly be human if that wasn't some sort of disappointment, but one suspects a man willing to leave the Balearic Islands for Kidderminster for the sake of his career is not easily distracted.
And so it proved: Cosmos B trampled the Mid-Atlantic Conference of NPSL. The team grabbed 34 of 36 possible points from its regular season: 11 wins and one draw from 12 games played; 49 goals scored and just seven conceded. Bover contributed five goals and five assists - which doesn't seem like many for such a free-scoring team, but he was named Cosmos B's 2015 MVP.
And, to cap what has been arguably Bover's best season of his career to date, Cosmos B proceeded to romp through the NPSL playoffs - maintaining an unbeaten record and clinching the league title in Chattanooga, in front of a record-setting crowd for the fourth-tier league.
Bover's next challenge is to see whether he can crack the Cosmos' first team lineup.
Congrats on a good year (so far), Ruben. With the exception of the apparently annual US Open Cup clash between RBNY and your Cosmos, we at Once A Metro with you continued success with your new club.