I step to the right. You think I’m going right. Then you think, I know he knows I think he’s going right. He must be going left. I step over the ball with my left. You bite. I drag the ball to the right and I’m gone.
Dillon Borta loves the ball at his feet. On a Tuesday night you can find the 24-year-old playing left and right mind games with his opponents under the Washington-Jefferson Street Bridge.
“Dillon is a joy to watch and a terror to defend,” says JB Webber, another Futsal regular.
Borta’s speed, agility and ball control make him a deadly adversary when it comes to Futsal.
“I love playing Futsal because it is all about ball control and quick passing. In soccer hard tackles and wide spaces don’t allow for as much footwork. Here we get to be more artistic,” Borta says.
Borta is a direct player. He is not afraid to take on three players at once, for better or worse.
“He has exceptional skill, but he should pass more,” says Jose Avila, another Futsal player.
Borta admits that sometimes he holds on to the ball too long, but what he may suffer in selfishness he makes up for in work ethic. Borta always plays like he’s in an international game for his country. When people are slowing down after 80 minutes of play, Borta runs harder. When others may shy away from a tackle, Borta charges in. During one game last year in city league, Borta lost a tooth.
Borta grew up in Williams, Oregon, a town with a population around 3,000. He played soccer for the high school and helped the team win a state championship. He came to the University of Oregon in 2003 and graduated in 2007 with a business degree. Along the way, he and friends created an intramural soccer team called Neo Rome. Through their college career they won 7 intramural championships at the UO and have 7 championship T-shirts to show for it. They also won 2 UO World Cup championships and made appearances in the finals 4 years running.
Neo Rome still plays together at the indoor soccer center in Springfield. Borta also plays in city league with a team called Ninkasi Football Club, and during the spring through fall, he plays in Latino League with a team called Olympia.
“Dillon is great because he beats you in ways you don’t know you can be beaten. You think you have him trapped and then he does what you thought was impossible,” says Chad Tinsley, Ninkasi FC teammate.
If he’s not playing soccer with a team or Futsal on the street, then Borta is probably working as a night manager at Albertson’s on 18th Avenue in Eugene. If he’s not working, he’s probably watching a movie like Shawshank Redemption or reading a book like Lord of the Rings, some of his favorites.
Professional soccer has always been Borta’s dream. He’s had a few people tell him they could get him a chance with professional teams in Paraguay and other South American countries. These talks peak his interest, but he thinks they are mostly empty promises. Borta has to work to pay off school loans and is content to play in amateur competitive leagues and pick up games.
Back on the field he spins, cuts and stalls. Sometimes it looks like he’s dancing and the ball is his partner − only dance partners usually don’t like being stepped on.
“It’s a science of body movement,” Borta says. “A good player will see open space and use it. A great player will see the same space three seconds before it exists.” Borta doesn’t call himself a great player, but he does play like he’s got one foot in the present and one foot in the future.