José Roberto Gomes Santana
|Full name||José Roberto Gomes Santana|
|Date of birth||September 13, 1978|
|Place of birth||Pastos Bons, Brazil|
|Height||5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)|
|San Diego Sockers|
|1998–2000||Tuna Luso Brasileira|
|1998||→ Palmeiras (loan)|
|1999||→ Corinthians (loan)|
|1999||→ Seà San Carlese (loan)|
|2007–2008||Detroit Ignition (indoor)|
|2009-||San Diego Sockers||62||(15)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of August 4, 2010.
José Roberto Gomes Santana, commonly known as Zé Roberto (born September 13, 1978 in Pastos Bons) is an association footballer who currently plays for the San Diego Sockers in the PASL-Pro. Zé Roberto began his career in his native Brazil, where he played with several clubs in the lower divisions. In 2002, he went abroad to North America to sign with the Hershey Wildcats of the A-League. It was there he was first introduced to Bob Lilley, who first deployed him as a playmaker that would lead him to prominence.
After the Wildcats folded, Zé Roberto was signed by the Montreal Impact in 2002. In Montreal he played an important role that would transform the Impact into a league powerhouse that would eventually dominate the league for latter part of the decade. His accolades during his tenure with Montreal include the League Championship, Regular-Season Championship, and the Voyageurs Cup. On January, 2010 he was ranked 22nd in the USL First Division Top 25 of the Decade, which announced a list of the best and most influential players of the previous decade. Roberto has spent the last 3 years, winning 3 consecutive championships with the San Diego Sockers and earning league honors all 3 years. In the summer months Roberto plays beach soccer and has won 4 championships, even being named tournament MVP in 2011.
Early career in South America
United States & Canada
In 2000, Zé Roberto went abroad to the United States to sign a contract with the Hershey Wildcats of the USL A-League. In his debut season he amassed five goals and 3 assists in a total of 25 games. His contributions led to him being named Hershey’s Rookie of the Year. The following year he helped the Wildcats post the best record (16–7–3) and the best offence (45 goals scored) in the Northern Conference, which enabled the club to reach the post season. In the post season, Ze Roberto guided Hershey to the finals of the championship game but were beaten 2–0 by the Rochester Rhinos. Once the season came to a conclusion he was picked on a select team of A-League players that toured Portugal to face the reserve teams of Benfica and Sporting CP, as well as against the U-21 Portuguese national football team.
In 2002 the Hershey Wildcats announced the folding of the club, which meant the release of all players from their contracts. He was then subsequently offered a contract from the Montreal Impact where he was reunited by his former head coach Bob Lilley. In his first season he was named Impact's Newcomer of the Year, and won the Voyageurs Cup. His sophomore season was his most productive offensive season by scoring six goals, adding five assists while being named to the A-League All League Second Team. In 2004, Zé Roberto was a dominate factor in Montreal's league winning season, where he started in all five playoff games and set-up the championship-winning goal that won the franchise's second league championship. Other accolades achieved throughout the season was winning the Voyageurs Cup for a record third consecutive year and being awarded the Unsung Hero Award, as well a selection into the A-League Second All-League team for the second time in his career.
The 2005 season embarked another successful stint with the Impact for Zé Roberto, as he helped the club to a 15-game undefeated streak which marked a new league record. He manage to help the Impact claim the regular-season title. In 2006, he signed a new three-year deal with Montreal. During the 2006 season he became the 10th player in club history to reach the 100 career games played mark with the Impact on June 24, 2006. He was able to defend their regular-season title and Voyageurs Cup for the fifth consecutive time.
Midway through the 2007 season, Zé Roberto was traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 26, 2007 along with Alen Marcina for Joey Gjertsen and David Testo. During his short tenure with Vancouver he appeared in a total of six matches and helped the team clinch a playoff berth. In the club's playoff round the Whitecaps were eliminated by the Portland Timbers in the first round of the United Soccer Leagues First Division playoffs. After the 2007 USL season ended, Zé Roberto was signed by the Detroit Ignition of the Major Indoor Soccer League, soon to be followed by his Whitecaps coach Bob Lilley.
On April 9, 2008, Ze Roberto, Luke Kreamalmeyer and Leslie Fitzpatrick were signed by the Rochester Rhinos for the 2008 season. During the season he appeared in 15 matches and scored three goals. He contributions allowed the Rhinos into the playoffs by finishing fourth in the standings. In the club's playoff run the Rhinos defeated Charleston Battery in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals. There the Rhinos were defeated by the Puerto Rico Islanders on a 3–2 aggregate on goals.
On February 17, 2009, the Rhinos announced the re-signing of Ze Roberto and along with striker Chris Sanders to a one-year deal with a one-year option for 2010. The following season he led the Rhinos to a sixth place finish in the standings enough to clinch a playoff spot. In the post season the Rhinos were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Islanders once again on a 5–3 aggregate on goals. In 2010, Ze Roberto was once again reunited with his former mentor Bob Lilley, as he was appointed the new head coach for Rochester. Due to the significant restructuring of the organization he was deemed surplus to the Rhinos and his one-year option in his contract was not renewed making him a free agent.
Ze Roberto then returned to his wife's home town of San Diego, CA and signed with the storied soccer franchise, the San Diego Sockers. Where he has spent the last 3 seasons, winning 3 league championships, even going undefeated in the most recent season. Roberto is a pilar to this team and a captain. Quoted from the Sockers website "Offense sells tickets; defense wins championships. If the old sports cliché holds true for the Sockers, you can thank Ze Roberto for back-to-back PASL North American Championships, as San Diego’s top defender is often the man responsible for holding down the opponents’ leading scorer." Roberto has been recognized by the league in all 3 seasons with All League Awards.
In the summer months Ze Roberto is seen playing soccer on the beach, in beach soccer tournaments across North America. He has won 4 beach soccer championships with the San Diego Sockers, even being named tournament MVP in 2011. Roberto is currently coaching youth soccer for San Diego Futbol Academy.
- A-League Championship (1): 2004
- Commissioner's Cup Winners (2): 2005, 2006
- Voyageurs Cup Champions (5): 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
- PASL-Pro League Champions All League First Team 2010-2011 All League Second Team 2011-2012
- "USL-1 Top 25 of the Decade". USLsoccer.com. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- "CAPS ACQUIRE ZE ROBERTO AND MARCINA". Whitecapsfc.com. Retrieved August 4, 2010.
- "Rhinos bolster squad with three". USLsoccer.com. Retrieved August 4, 2010.
- "Rochester signs Sanders Rhinos also re-sign Roberto". USLsoccer.com. Retrieved January 26, 2010.