NASL Midweek: Minnesota Sign Ibson, Rowdies Ink Trialists, Indy Stadium Effort Moves Forward

IMAGE, MINNESOTA UNITED

by JAKE NUTTING
Staff Writer

San Antonio took a break from signing Colombians to add a Canadian with MLS and World Cup Qualifying experience. Tampa Bay made it official with half a dozen trialists. Minnesota United bolstered their midfield with a longtime Portland Timber and a seasoned Brazilian veteran. Meanwhile, Indy Eleven continued to make strides towards becoming the first NASL club to get a publicly funded downtown soccer stadium.

  • The San Antonio Scorpions finally appear to be picking up some preseason steam. This week the reigning Soccer Bowl champions made a move to bolster their back line with the signing of Canadian international Nana Attakora. The Scorpions are hoping Attakora can fill a hole left by Greg Janicki’s departure for Indy. Attakora was on trial with the New York Cosmos earlier in the preseason. At 25, he has 9 caps with the senior Canadian national team and was a regular starter for Toronto FC from 2008-2011, making 56 appearances. After leaving Toronto however, Attakora struggled to finding a spot on a squad, moving from San Jose to FC Haka in Finland and then back to San Jose before ultimately joining DC United in 2014. Attakora will find a fellow Canadian on the back line in Adrian Cann, and another on the touchline in Head Coach Alen Marcina. Everyone involved in the deal is hoping that Attakora can become a regular starter again and make an immediate impact in the short Spring season. The Scorpions only have 14 players listed on the official roster but that should increase in a hurry as the countdown to the 2015 season inches closer to the one month mark.
  • The Tampa Bay Rowdies have been busy inking deals with preseason trialists. In short order, the club made official deals with six trialists this week. Four of the signings are first time professionals with impressive college resumes. Midfielder Marquez Fernandez, 22, joins the Rowdies after helping lead the University of Maryland-Baltimore County  to the College Cup national semifinals in 2014. Midfielder Jeff Mihcaud, 21, was highly touted coming out of high school in West Palm Beach, FL who played for both the University of Central Florida and Eastern Florida State College. Zac Portillos, 23, is a product of the University of Akron program and adds depth at the left back position. Goalkeeper Chris Glodack, 21, is a four-year veteran of Clemson University, where he helped win the 2014 ACC Men’s title. The fifth trialist to sign, Kamil Čontofalský, is also a keeper, but at 36, has significantly more experience than Glodack. Čontofalský is the fifth player from the 2014 Fort Lauderdale Strikers roster to join up with the Rowdies. The Slovakian had a long career in Europe, highlight by winning the 2007-2008 UEFA Cup (now known as the Europa League) with Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg. The final signing secured the return of a University of South Florida standout, Zak Boggs. The forward was drafted by the New England Revolution in 2010 but left during his third season to accept a Fulbright Scholarship at Leicester University. Boggs, 28, returned to professional soccer in 2014 with the Charlotte Eagles in USL, scoring three goals. Thomas Rongen will be looking to utilize Boggs’ creativity and vision in hopes of reigniting the Rowdies attack.
  • Last year’s Spring season champs Minnesota United made waves this week with two key midfield additions. Brazilian central midfielder Ibson has joined the Loons after a lengthy career that has included stints at prestigious clubs such as Porto, Flamengo, Spartak Moscow, and Corinthians. Ibson, 31, gained UEFA Champions League experience while at Porto and Spartak Moscow. He primarily played an attacking role in the early part of his career but has transitioned to a more defensive role. Head Coach Manny Lagos anticipates Ibson to be a great asset, likely playing as box to box midfielder. Minnesota have also added to their offense with the signing of Kalif Alhassan from the Portland Timbers. Alhassan, 24, landed in Portland in 2010 when the Timbers were still part of USL and went on to appear over 90 times for the club in MLS. Lagos noted Alhassan’s aggressiveness on offense should create more scoring opportunities for Minnesota’s forwards. The Ghanaian native’s versatility to play many roles in should also provide security for Lagos throughout the season. Alhassan got off to a great start this week, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 scrimmage against Indy Eleven in Arizona.
  • Other than the losing effort in a 70 minute scrimmage against Minnesota, Indy Eleven once again made their most noise off the field. In a 74-21 vote the proposed bill to facilitate a new soccer-centric venue for Indy passed through the Indiana House of Representatives. The bill calls for $82 million to construct the stadium, the debt from that construction would be paid off by sales tax generated by the stadium and a new hotel owned by Indy Eleven’s owner Ersal Ozdemir. The legislation will now move to the Senate for another vote, likely after more dialogue between the club, city, and lawmakers. Prior to the House vote on Wednesday, two amendments were added to the bill. The first amendment would require the Ozdemir to cover half the construction cost debt. The second one would prohibit taxes from the stadium from going toward Ozdemir’s future hotel. “We’re excited and encouraged by today’s vote as a significant step forward for Indy Eleven fans, and for all fans of soccer from around the state,” Ozdemir said. “We look forward to working with the Senate and continuing dialogue that will make the bill more effective so that we can bring this world-class facility to the people of Indiana.”
  • Indy 11 Fan, Herbie!

    One of the two Indy stadium amendments you explain as” The first amendment would require the Ozdemir to cover half the construction cost debt.”

    I believe the way the amendment was passed was that IF the projections did not follow through and could not pay all 82mil back in 30 years, then Ozdemir would be on the hook for half of the remaining debt.

    At least I think, I am NOT a lawyer… Just wanted to clarify though, I don’t believe Ozdemir would pay out 41mil right now.