The Boy From Brazil

A New England soccer phenom contemplates a move home and a pro career
November 06, 2006

NANTUCKETHIGH

Nantucket,Mass.

SOMETIMES IT'Shard to tell if Caio Correa is more obsessed with technology or soccer. TheNantucket (Mass.) High sophomore midfielder spends eight to 10 hours each weekanalyzing European matches and highlight clips of world-class players likeRonaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo, which he downloads from YouTube.com andmetacafe.com. Then, he says, "I film myself practicing their moves with thewebcam on my laptop in the basement."

But Correa is nonerdy wannabe. His footwork and speed have made the him the most feared highschool player in Massachusetts; he's the state's top scorer with 32 goals and23 assists. Yet what really sets Correa apart, says Nantucket coach RichBrannigan, is the lanky Brazilian's maturity and playmaking. "He gets theteam involved and makes everybody around him better."

Last summerCorrea, who is 5'10" and 140 pounds, played in Nantucket's adult leagueagainst mostly foreign-born men who work as cooks and landscapers on theisland. Though the league is highly competitive, Correa led it in scoring (29goals) and was voted player of the year. Brannigan has fielded inquiries aboutCorrea from Division I schools including Notre Dame and St. John's.

Correa developedhis ball-handling skills in Rio de Janeiro, where he lived until his familymoved to Nantucket when he was 10. His first coach was his father, Luis, whoplayed eight years of pro soccer in Brazil against stars like national teammidfielder Zico. "When I was six, my dad would take me to the beach to playfutevólei," says Correa, who describes the homegrown sport as a hybrid ofsoccer and beach volleyball.

The Correas haveworked hard to carve out a comfortable life for their two sons in Nantucket.Luis co-owns a house painting company, and Nelma, Caio's mom, cleans houses.But Nantucket High stands to lose its playmaker at season's end. Luis is takingCaio back to Brazil in December to try out with the 18-to-20-year-olddevelopmental squad of Voltaco, a Division I state team that's a feeder squadfor Brazil's elite pro teams. "If I do well there, one of the top teamscould sign me for millions," he says. "That's my dream. To follow in mydad's footsteps." --Luis Fernando Llosa

PHOTOJIM POWERS/THE INQUIRER AND MIRROR (CORREA)AHEAD OF HIS TIMEThe 16-year-old Correa dominated a men's league this summer. PHOTOJASON ARNOLD/ICON SMI (MIAMI-FIU BRAWL)

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