Interview with Carl Sainté
Afterburn Soccer sat down with North Texas and Haitian midfielder Carl Sainté to talk about his journey and goals as a professional soccer player.
During the Gold Cup earlier in the summer, the FC Dallas movement was in full force, not just through various United States Men’s National Team players, including Jesus Ferreira, but also for a youngster from their MLS Next Pro team, Carl Fred Sainté.
Sainté, born in Haiti in 2002, found an intriguing route to North Texas and now has made a name for himself on the international stage for his country. He has been a mainstay for his North Texas side. When he is in form, the team has played well. When he is out of the lineup, the squad has suffered. His poise and confidence have led him to be named one of the captains of North Texas. At 21 years of age, his future remains wide open.
The midfielder began playing soccer when he was six years old and found plenty of opportunities in his home country.
“In Haiti, soccer is one of the biggest sports,” Carl said about his time growing up, mentioning the academies eager to scout talent. “It’s a huge sport for players in Haiti, and a lot of players want to be professional.”
But Haiti is a country with significant challenges, and a legacy of colonization, natural disaster, war, and unrest lingers, slowing the growth of the sport. Carl suggested that such events have hurt but believes that soccer is growing.
Carl moved to the US initially to play with Louisville but was unable to make the team there, so he gained a spot with New Mexico United, earning a handful of appearances before North Texas caught on to the young talent.
“I was very excited about the opportunity. I know it would be a better place for me. I know if I come here, there is no way I would go back,” he said.
At North Texas, Sainté’s initial transfer was a loan, but the team didn’t hesitate to make the transfer a permanent one. That move set off a chain reaction of growth for the youngster. He has 24 first-team appearances with close to 1800 minutes, also tallying one goal and three assists.
His biggest learning?
“For me… It’s pretty easy. I think it’s about mentality, the way the coaches help me to grow up as a person,” Carl said.
A downside of his time with North Texas has been an unexpected coaching carousel, from Pa Modou Kah to Javier Cano and John Gall, but such turbulence hasn’t interrupted his growth.
“I think it’s not about the coaching side. If a coach asks you to do something, he sees what is best for you,” he said. “No matter what coach is here, I am trying to do what I am supposed to do. If he asks me to do something, I am going to do my best to make my team proud, to make my family proud."
North Texas SC was eliminated from playoff hopes last weekend, and such moments reveal a team that is talented but has a lot of growth ahead of it. Carl acknowledged the way the team needs to focus and improve.
“For me, as one of the captains, it is all about mentality. Try to grow up as a player, because there are some losses that are just a lack of concentration. If we are winning 1-0 away, in the 90th minute, we can’t get scored on. We have to learn,” he said. “We have a really good team. We have had a tough season, but we are going to keep growing.”
Crowning his growth, Sainté and the FC Dallas organization were excited to see his continued call-ups to the Haitian men’s national team, offering the young player an opportunity to push himself against stronger competition. In particular, he started all three games in Haiti’s appearance in the Gold Cup, earning high marks specifically for the team’s performance against Qatar on June 25.
“I think it was a really good experience for me as a player. It was a lot of quality. It was very intense,” Sainté said. “It was one of my dreams to play for my country. It was incredible for me, because every time, I learned that if you try to be a better six or midfielder, you can’t lose the ball. I feel way more confident than I was before."
While he has achieved much in a short amount of time, he remains hungry.
“I still have a goal, even when I was young, to try to play at one of the biggest clubs in the world. Try to play at one of the top five leagues in the world. I am still working on that. Just being ready for what is coming next,” Carl said.
And, of course, he admits that he has dreams of donning an FC Dallas jersey someday, getting an opportunity to play in Toyota Stadium.
In the meantime, Sainté spends his time with family playing Madden, Call of Duty, and other video games to take the pressure off life as a footballer.
And when he turns to his favorite taco place, he sticks to a place he likes.
“Taco Bell," he said with a smile.
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