There should never be any doubting Dariusz Formella’s focus on the field.
Darek’s laser-sharp attention to detail in his craft is turning the former Lech Poznan player into one of the USL Championship’s most lethal assassins – and it showed when Republic FC restarted its regular season against Tacoma Defiance as Formella bagged his first career brace with the Indomitable Club.
His first goal of the game was from the penalty spot, another first for Formella when the versatile goalscorer stepped up to the spot and steered his shot into the back of the net. His second was an attempt from just inside the box that he effortlessly guided into goal; a shot that looked as if came from the foot of a pure, natural striker.
A it turns out, it did.
“I was a striker from when I started playing until I was 17 or 18, then I went to one club where there was a big star striker on the team, so the coach decided to put me on the wing,” Formella explained.
“I spoke with Coach Briggs at the beginning of the season and he decided that I can give the most to the team playing as a striker. I feel really good playing as a striker and of course, I love scoring goals, everybody loves scoring goals,” he said. “I just want to give as much as I can for the team and if it’s goals, it’s going to be goals.”
In the short time the former Poland U-21 Men’s National Team player has been upfront for the boys in Old Glory Red, he’s already made a positive impression by matching his goalscoring tally from last season in just a single 45-minute half of play. But Formella credits this recent success to all the knowledge he’s obtained over his years in the game, and all the hard work he’s put in along the way.
“I feel very good there as a striker, I feel like that’s my natural position, but I think those five or six years I played as a winger helped me a lot because as a winger, you need to work more defensively, you have to take care of creating chances for other players. Now I can be the more complete player,” Darek said. “It’s not always about just scoring goals, I can pass the ball, I can create, I can hold the ball, and I think that work now has paid off.”
Over time, Formella has molded himself into an offensive player with as many skills and talents as a Swiss-army knife. He’s a multi-tool weapon for the gaffer to call upon at any time, for any attacking role.
His silky-smooth composure and delicate touch allow him to create space or find it in tight places. When the defense is breathing down his back, he showcases his poise under pressure and whether it’s an effort towards the target or a distribution to a teammate, Formella still manages to showcase his divine quality in tough matchday moments.
Offense aside, the former Polish first division league title-winner with Lech Poznan – and Polish Cup champion with Arka Gdynia – has more attributes in his toolbox than just an eye for goal. On the flanks, Formella is still as lethal as he is in the center of the pitch as a provider of services and scoring chances to his teammates.
Regardless of his strongest position, above everything else, Formella is a loyal teammate with an unbreakable commitment to giving everything he has for the men alongside him. Formella is the ultimate team player, a first-class fit for Head Coach Mark Briggs’ system, and he’s relishing the chance to play in a new role under the boss – while finding success doing it as well.
“I think it depends on the philosophy of the coach,” Formella said in response to how well he’s adapted to the new system. “If you’re just playing long balls and crosses, I think that’s very hard for me. But now I know the tactics, I know what the coach wants from me and what he wants from the team. I understand very well how he wants to play and I love the way he wants to play so I’m just trying to enjoy it.”
“I think we look at football the same way,” he said of Coach Briggs’ philosophy. “So, it’s so much easier because he wants to play short passes and create lots of chances and keep the ball, not playing football with just long balls and get into penalties and all that. He wants to take the club to the next level and I’m enjoying every training and trying to do my best.”
Formella is fully focused on buying into the boss’s style of play, similarly to when he was ready to focus on pursuing an entirely new chapter in his pro soccer career, playing professionally in North America – and it was a move he wasn’t exactly expecting years before.
“Honestly, when I was 19 or 20, I did play in Europa League, I did play in the qualification of Champions League, and of course in that moment when you are in Poland, you don’t think about America, you think about the west side of Europe like France, Germany,” Formella said. “But then I made some bad decisions, went nine months without a club, and then I had an injury and my situation changed a lot. So, I thought it was a good move to go to America, change continents, change everything and try to achieve success in a different league.”
“I came because I spoke with Todd [Dunivant] and we had a conversation that Sacramento wants to go to MLS and for me, that was a priority because I don’t want to be here and play for seven clubs in USL, that’s not my way,” a driven and determined Formella explained. “I decided for Sacramento because I knew that it was a big project and it’s a good club with good fans, and playing in MLS is something that if you came from Poland and you played in MLS, you achieved success and you did something and you did something well in your life in soccer.”
But Formella doesn’t just dream of perhaps one day reaching these goals, he puts in the work to earn them. He didn’t come to the scenic west coast of the United State just for a vacation, the Polish playmaker moved across the Atlantic in search of soccer glory.
And he makes no secret of that.
“I have to improve in all the games that I can score in, I can give something extra to the team and I can make a difference, because honestly, I didn’t come here just to be in California and post on Instagram that I live in California. I came because I have a target, I want to go to MLS and it would be perfect if I get to do that in Sacramento,” he said.
“That’s my target. I know it’s very hard. I know that not a lot of people from USL go to MLS and I know how the reality looks like maybe one, maybe two, maybe three players stay at the club and I know every player who is with the club right now is dreaming of it.”
In order to achieve that dream, he knows full well all he has to do is continuing to focus on himself while trying to improve his game, and the rest will fall into place.
“Everything I do on the pitch is up to me,” Formella said. “Of course, not everything is up to me, obviously I’m not the boss, I don’t make decisions on anything outside of what I do on the pitch, so I need a little bit of luck, but the rest is up to me. I believe it, I have a big hope to do it, I know that I can achieve it. I’m thinking about it every day when I go outside to training for the game. I’m thinking about my targets and it’s very nice to score two goals but still, there are a lot of things that I need to improve and a lot of things I need to do.”
Formella’s goalscoring talents speak for themselves – don’t forget he scored back-to-back game-winning goals in 2019 during the club’s heated playoff push – but when the forward does speak, he does everything he can to make his word impeccable and speak with purpose.
“When I say something, I try to say something for something, not just talk to talk,” he explained. “When I say something, I just want to give advice or give some good information that somebody can use. But as I said, it doesn’t matter, the most important thing is that we understand on the pitch.”
Having that on-field understanding is vital for a squad’s success, and Formella recognizes that full well.
“The middle or eastern side of Europe is different than American culture. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I behave in a weird way for American players, sometimes what American players do is weird for me, it’s a really long way – 9,000 miles – a completely different world, but the most important thing is we understand each other on the pitch,” Formella said.
The forward may have traveled thousands of miles to play in Sacramento, and he may have at one time played in some of Europe’s most illustrious leagues but delivering glory to the California Capital is the one thing Formella firmly has his sights set on.
“I didn’t leave my family, I didn’t leave my home city, I didn’t leave my whole life just to be here and enjoy the sun in California. I came here to do something and achieve something,” the decorated Polish playmaker said. “I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to have the chance to achieve something big in my life.”
Since his arrival roughly one year ago, Formella has played the role of hero netting game-winning goals, he’s dished out an assist in a playoff game, overcome tremendous adversity to thrive under difficult circumstances, and is one of the primary weapons threats leading the Indomitable Club’s attack in search of Championship Cup silverware in 2020.
He’s already done so much for Sacramento, but Formella will be the first to tell you that the best is still yet to come.
Follow Republic FC on social media.