Cosmos defender Roversio passes upfield during the first half of...

Cosmos defender Roversio passes upfield during the first half of an NASL game vs. the Atlanta Silverbacks. (Sept. 7, 2013) Credit: James Escher

Since Roversio broke into the starting lineup as a central defender, the first-place Cosmos have not lost a game (5-0-2) and have allowed six goals while recording three shutouts.

Roversio, whose given name is Rodrigues de Barros, has become a key figure in the Cosmos' quest to win Soccer Bowl, the North American Soccer League championship. The Cosmos, who host the Carolina RailHawks at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium at 7 p.m. Saturday, need to win two of their four final fall season games to reach the final vs. host Atlanta on Nov. 9.

What has changed for the Cosmos since you entered the starting lineup?

The intensity hasn't changed for me. I've always been working hard. It's just putting the effort every day that you need to be in the starting team.

Years ago, a tall central defender from Brazil (Carlos Alberto) helped the Cosmos win the championship. This year a tall central defender from Brazil has put them in a position to perhaps win the championship. Do you understand the historical significance?

Knowing the history of Brazilian players going out of the country playing for great teams. I'm happy being here, playing for the Cosmos. But we've got to keep working and concentrate on winning the championship.

I'm very honored being, of course, Brazilian and knowing that Brazilians came here like Pele and Carlos Alberto played for the Cosmos. I am very excited and very honored to play for the team knowing that past great players like them played here, too.

For the Cosmos to reach Soccer Bowl and win the NASL title, what would that mean for you?

Of course, I would like to win a championship. It would mean a lot to me. That's why I am working every day for that. I am a professional. I understand that we have to come here and work and make that effort for us to win the championship. Of course, I will be honored to win a championship. Any player likes that.

Brazilian players are known throughout the world as attacking players. Why did you decide to play defense?

I actually started as an attacking midfielder. The manager suggested to me to play in the back because of my height [6-1]. I was trying out for the team and he put in me that position. I actually started liking it. I started playing defender. I liked playing attacking midfielder because like you said, Brazilians are more recognized as attackers than defenders. But in the end, it came out all right for me. I liked the position.

How did you get your name Roversio and how unique is it?

I don't know where it comes from. My godmother gave it to me. It was difficult growing up with the name. I was always telling people four to six times in order to recognize my name or know the name because it isn't a very common name in Brazil. Having the name for the past 30 years, it's great for me.

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