Yesterday's nemesis becoming tomorrow's teammate is one of sport's great ironies and Bernardo Anor's reality.
Then a member of Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City, Anor found himself in a disagreement with Minnesota United defender Tiago Calvano when their teams played an exhibition match in February 2015. The "friendly" ended as anything but. A skirmish broke out with Anor at the center.
"The game got more heated than usual, and I'm a very competitive guy," Anor said. "Tiago came in for a tackle that I thought was unnecessary. So we were standing in front of each other. The beauty of the game is now we're on the same team."
Acquired last February by the Loons through a season-long loan from Sporting Kansas City, Anor provides an aggressive, gritty style and offensive flair that are welcomed elements. Minnesota (4-2-1) hosts Tampa Bay (2-2-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday hoping to stay unbeaten at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine this spring
Anor, a 27-year-old winger, boasts a powerful shot and an uncanny ability to win aerial balls. A concussion in the season opener kept him out for most of the first five matches. He was put in against Jacksonville on May 14 to provide offensive thrust, and his presence became more valuable after Ben Speas suffered an injury against the Armada.
Anor has yet to score, but he's played a key if understated role in keeping Minnesota tied for first in the North American Soccer League with 13 goals.
"On the ball he's very good; in the attacking third he's very good," coach Carl Craig said. "He's a tough player to stop."
Anor said of his game: "I want to be creative and I want to be dangerous in the box. I want to be aggressive and intense in everything I do. I have a hunger for scoring no matter who you put in front of me."
Forward Christian Ramirez summed up the dichotomy in Anor's play, calling him a "calming presence" on the field who can also "get under your skin."
A relentless spirit helped Anor climb from Caracas FC Academy, the most successful club in Venezuelan history, to the University of South Florida.
He came to America as a 17-year-old speaking no English. He learned the language by taking college preparatory tests and classes.
"It was a challenge, but I'm glad I took it," Anor said. "It completely changed my life."
From there, Anor played four years with the Columbus Crew of MLS. He transferred to Sporting Kansas City in 2015, appearing in 13 matches.
And at least one skirmish.
"I didn't even remember that until I met some of the guys and they brought it up," Anor said. "They all thought it was funny."