NASL Notes: Ex-Silverbacks Finding New NASL Homes, Indy Adds Veteran Keeper, more

IMAGE, NASL.COM

by JAKE NUTTING

With plenty of spectators around the NASL anxiously waiting to see the type of roster Rayo OKC can form in a short offseason window, the club has managed to earn respect for its first batch of signings.

This week, the NASL startup added MLS veterans Kosuke Kimura and Michel Garbini Pereira to its inaugural roster.

Kimura, 31, is an outside back with a wealth of MLS experience, but he’s also the second ex-Atlanta Silverbacks player to join Rayo OKC after defender Rauwshan McKenzie. Kimura signed with Atlanta in July of last year and showed well for the club, appearing in 19 of 20 Fall Season matches. His MLS resume includes an MLS Cup win with the Colorado Rapids in 2010, as well as stretches with the Portland Timbers and New York Red Bulls.

Pereira, 34, joins OKC after a positive three-season run at FC Dallas in MLS. The Brazilian slotted into the left side of both the midfield and defense for a total of 74 appearances and notched 12 goals for the MLS side. Before making the jump to the U.S., he played for clubs in Brazil, Belgium, and Greece. During his time in Superleague Greece, Pereira picked up valuable Europa League experience. Head coach Alen Marcina highlighted Pereira’s set piece ability as a big reason for bringing him onboard.

Carolina RailHawks

Carolina made a move to solidify its back line with the addition of German-born defender Simon Mensing. The 33-year-old center back proved his worth as one of the NASL’s top defenders in his first season in North America. Mensing served as captain and appeared in 28 of 30 matches for the Atlanta Silverbacks in their final season. Prior to crossing the Atlantic, Mensing spent the bulk of his career playing in Scotland, with his most successful run coming at Hamilton Academical. During his five-year stretch with the club, Mensing made close to 150 appearances and tallied 24 goals. Mensing will be reunited with his Silverbacks teammate and right back and defender Paul Black, who signed with Carolina last week.

Indy Eleven

Indy Eleven parted ways with their number one keeper Kristian Nicht earlier this offseason, but the club seems to have had no trouble finding an experienced netminder to fill his shoes. Jon Busch, 39, has joined the club after an extended run in MLS as one of the top keeper’s in the league.

Adding an interesting wrinkle to the signing is the fact that Busch will also serve as Indy’s Director of Goalkeeping and will be a guest coach for the club’s NPSL reserve squad.

Busch began his professional career in 1997 in the lower divisions of American soccer before eventually moving up to MLS with the Columbus Crew in 2002 where he appeared in 84 matches. He then moved to the Chicago Fire for a three-season stint before joining the San Jose Earthquakes where he appeared in 150 matches in five seasons. He made a return to the Windy City for the 2015 season. During his time in MLS, Busch earned the Keeper of the Year award in 2008, was a member of the Crew’s U.S. Open Cup winning squad in 2002, and helped lead his sides to Supporters Shield victory in boths 2004 and 2012.

Miami FC

After adding the experience of veteran Matuzalém Francelino da Silva at the start of the week, expansion side Miami FC looked to some young blood with a pair of 22-year-olds, Robert Baggio Kcira and Aaron Dennis.

Besides sharing the same age, both players also hail from New York.

Kcira is a midfielder who was once a member of the New York Red Bulls Academy, but most recently he was in Austria with SC Wiener Neustadt, where he led the club in goals and assists.

Dennis signed his first professional contract this past summer, joining Arizona United SC for the tail end of their season. During his brief stint, Dennis made six appearances and recorded one goal as a forward. Prior to joining the professional ranks, Dennis was a standout for the Villanova Wildcats in college.

Tampa Bay Rowdies

The Tampa Bay Rowdies announced on Thursday that they have signed starting center back Tamika Mkandawire to a new contract for the entirety of the 2016 season. Tam’s original contract ran through the Spring Season.

This past year was a tumultuous one for the Rowdies, who shot up the standings in the spring only to crash back to earth and miss out on the playoffs in the back half of the season. However, Tam was the one constant the team could rely upon. The defender started all 30 matches and remained on the field for every one of the available 2,700 minutes. He first signed with the Rowdies ahead of the 2014 Fall Season and quickly became an important factor on the field and in the locker room.