NASL Notebook: Scorpions, Silverbacks Add Internationals, Strikers Get Top Player Back, more

IMAGE, NASL.COM

by JAKE NUTTING
Staff Writer

The 2014 Soccer Bowl champs boosted their midfield attack with a 2014 World Cup player. The Atlanta Silverbacks continue to build a solid roster with the addition of two NASL veterans with plenty to prove. The Rowdies revealed the signing of another local standout. And the Strikers manage to hook a 2014 player that had slipped away after the season ended. Only 30 days remain until the 2015 NASL season kicks off.

  • That San Antonio Scorpions have added even more pace to their midfield with the signing of winger Marvin Chavez. The 31 year old Honduran International recently made two appearances in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Chavez started 2014 with the Colorado Rapids in MLS before being traded to Chivas USA. Chavez also spent time with Dallas and San Jose and overall has over 100 appearances in MLS. The Scorpions are hoping that such an experienced player can make an immediate impact. On the defensive side, San Antonio also announced the signing of holding midfielder Zourab Tsiskarisdze. The 28 year old is a bit of a journeyman, having played in France, Russia, Sweden, Bangkok, and North America. His time in North America was with FC Miami (Now Fort Lauderdale Strikers) in 2009, the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2010 before they moved to MLS, and also Montreal’s final season in NASL in 2011. Tsiskarisdze and the rest of the defensive players have a high bar to match considering San Antonio conceded the fewest goals in the league last year. Head Coach Alen Marcina’s squad kicked off the preseason convincingly, defeating FC Dallas 2-1. The team’s next scheduled match is March 14 against the Austin Aztex.
  • Atlanta Silverbacks coach Gary Smith made two solid additions to the 2015 roster with forward Kyle Porter and midfielder Michael Reed. For Porter, 25, it’s a return to the league where he had his most success. In 2011 and 2012 he made 47 appearances for FC Edmonton and scored 12 goals. He parlayed that into a move to DC United where he only netted 3 goals and was loaned out to the USL affiliate Richmond Kickers in 2014. Smith rates the Canadian International very highly, calling him a “top-10” NASL player in terms of natural talent and hopes that some stability in Atlanta can help him get back on track. The move for Reed, 27, is likely all about playing time. The box-to-box midfielder found himself the odd man out in the midfield during Minnesota United’s stellar 2014 season. The opportunity to earn playing time is certainly available to all the Silverbacks players as the team looks to completely rebuild on a budget as a result of the ownership shakeup. The Silverbacks officially kickoff preseason action against Georgia Southern University on Saturday March 7.
  • Thomas Rongen and the Tampa Bay Rowdies have signed their second former University of South Florida player in defender Ben Sweat. The left back was drafted 14th by Columbus in the 2014 MLS draft but never suited up for the Crew in a league match. Columbus waived Sweat in early February after bringing in depth across the entire back line coach Gregg Berhalter decided ultimately Sweat wasn’t a fit for his system. Rowdies fans are hoping that the Crew’s loss is their gain. At only 23, Sweat still has some time to fully form as a professional in the NASL under Rongen. Considering his 6ft2 frame and natural technical ability he has the potential to be a top-class defender in this league. The signing adds much needed depth at left back as it appears that Blake Wagner is no longer with club. No official word from the club but he was not on the travel roster for the Portugal trip. Tampa Bay looks to be starting to gel in Portugal, posting wins against CD Fatima and Benfica’s U-20 Mixed team. The team lost 3-2 to Sport Lisbon B, who currently sit in 9th place in Portugal’s second division. Things seem to going well for rookie Darwin Espinal, who scored two excellent goals in the Benfica and Sporting matches.
  • Haitian International James Marcelin has re-signed with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers for the new season. Marcelin, 28, originally appeared to be another in the stream of 2014 Strikers leaving the squad for greener pastures. He signed with Sporting Kansas City in December but was waived by the club at the end of February. The defensive midfielder impressed with the Strikers after signing in July last year, starting 15 Fall season matches on the way to a Soccer Bowl appearance. Marcelin provides defensive depth in the midfield or at center back if the need should arise. It looks as if Marcelin has already got back into his groove with the club, scoring a goal in the Strikers 2-0 win over Palm Beach Atlantic University this week. The Strikers also travelled up to Jacksonville and were the first visitors in the Armada’s home venue, the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The Armada won that contest 1-0 on a goal from defender Shawn Nicklaw.