NASL Notes: Ottawa losses strengthen Armada, Rowdies, Indy, Minnesota Nab Laing, more

IMAGE, RICHARD A. WHITTAKER/OTTAWA FURY FC

by JAKE NUTTING

The darlings of the 2015 NASL season are already undergoing drastic changes only one month after falling to the Cosmos in the Championship Final.

Leading scorer Tom Heinemann has already departed for Tampa Bay. On top of that, the club revealed that it has approved the transfer requests of Siniša Ubiparipović, defender Ryan Richter, and captain Richie Ryan.

Adding to the exodus is forward Andrew Wiedeman, who finished tied with Ubiparipović for second-most goals. He has left for USL upstart FC Cincinnati. Defender Drew Beckie, midfielder Nicki Paterson, as well as forwards Aly Alberto Hassan, Oliver and Ugur Albayrak have also been let go.

On a slightly more upbeat note, Fury fans can look forward to the record-setting defense that carried the club to the Fall Season title remaining mostly intact for the 2016 season. Starting center back Rafael Alves’ option was picked up this week, reuniting him with defenders Colin Falvey and Masson Trafford, as well as keeper Romuald Peiser. Together, Ottawa’s defense held their opponents to only 23 goals in the 30-game regular season.

Ottawa also secured the services of back up keeper Marcel Debellis, midfielder Brandon Poltronieri, and forwards Paulo Junior and Carl Haworth.

Jacksonville Armada Sign Richie Ryan

New Armada Manager and Technical Director Tony Meola has made a key signing for his new side.

Recently released Fury midfielder Richie Ryan joins the Armada after helping his club to the NASL finals.

“I look forward to having Richie Ryan added to our group as he brings us a proven leader that has performed at a high level in the league,” Meola said. “I expect Richie to be an integral part of the culture that my staff and I are trying to build both on the field as well as in our locker room. I have spoken to Richie, and he is extremely excited to get to Jacksonville and get started.”

A product of Sunderland’s youth system, Ryan comes to the Armada with 12 years of professional experience spanning England, Scotland and his native Ireland. Over two seasons in Ottawa, the 30-year-old midfielder earned 39 starts and logged 3,499 minutes in 41 total appearances while notching four goals and three assists.

Minnesota United FC Land Lance Laing

Not content with signing the league’s reigning Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner Stefano Pinho, Minnesota United has announced another blockbuster deal with the addition of winger Lance Laing.

Over the past two seasons with FC Edmonton, Laing has cemented himself as one of the most dynamic attackers in the NASL. After shifting from left back to the left wing in the fall of 2014, the dynamic Laing has ran roughshod over much of the competition. This past season he managed eight goals and seven assists through only 20 appearances. His output almost certainly would  have been more had his stellar play not gotten him on Jamaica’s national team radar. Numerous teams tried to negate Laing through double teams, but the only successful way of eliminating him was being fortunate enough for your scheduled match with the Eddies to line up with an international date.

Tampa Bay Rowdies Sign Heinemann, Richter

Tampa Bay ended weeks of speculation with the official announcement this week that former Ottawa Fury FC forward Tom Heinemann has joined the club on a two-year contract. It’s the first signing of the offseason for the Rowdies, and it addresses a major concern for the club that missed out on the postseason by a few points. The Rowdies attack only yielded a dismal 18 goals during the 20-game Fall Season. Heinemann had a far more impressive output during Ottawa’s surprise run to the Championship Final, notching eight goals and four assists during the combined season and four more goals in two postseason matches. The physicality of the 6-foot-four Heinemann fills another gap for the Rowdies, who were without an imposing physical attacking threat for much of the year due to the frequent injuries of Maicon Santos.

EoS has also learned that the Rowdies have picked up former Fury defender Ryan Richter. The versatile defender is a natural centerback who also plays on the right of defense. He featured in 15 matches with the Fury last year, netting a single goal.

Indy Eleven

Indy’s first roster move under newly installed head coach Tim Hankinson was to ensure the return of one of the club’s original signings. Defensive midfielder Brad Ring will represent the Circle City for a third season after having his option picked up by the club. Ring scored only one goal this past year and was one of a handful of Indy’s players who battled through injuries to stay fit. Ring will be hoping to help guide his club to its first finish in the top half of the standings in the new year.

The second move is the acquisition of Sinisa Ubiparipovic, who officially becomes the first signing by the club of the 2016 season. Ubiparipovic was instrumental in the Fury’s charge to the NASL Final. Over two seasons, the former Red Bulls midfielder featured in 48 matches, scoring six goals in that time.

Carolina RailHawks

After locking all star attacker Tiyi Shipalane into a new multi-year contract, Carolina is using the newfound resources of owner Steve Malik to shore up what was one of the leakiest defenses in the NASL this past year. Fighting through several injuries and limited resources, the RailHawks tied with expansion side Jacksonville Armada FC for second-most goals conceded (49). In response, Carolina has inked defenders Karem Moses and Steven Miller, with the latter signing being a multi-year deal. Moses joins the RailHawks after two sturdy years in central defense for Edmonton, where he earned 47 appearances. Miller was a late-season loan acquisition for Carolina in an attempt to remedy its defensive woes. Miller’s performance in that five-game stretch was enough to convince the club to work out a transfer from the Tulsa Roughnecks in USL.

FC Edmonton

For the first time in its history, FC Edmonton is heading outside of North America for preseason training when they travel to Scotland in March. Four matches are scheduled for the two-week trip, including one against Newcastle United’s U-21 squad. Edmonton will be the fifth modern era NASL club, and first Canadian one, to travel overseas for extensive training. Head Coach Colin Miller highlighted the positive affect the intense soccer environment that exists in Scotland can have on a player’s mentality, but Owner Tom Fath also noted the more advantageous Canadian dollar rate in Scotland compared to the United States.

Miami FC

Expansion side Miami FC added more American experience to their inaugural roster with the signing of defender Brad Rusin and midfielder Blake Smith. Rusin and Smith join American Jamie Chavez and longtime MLS veteran Dane Richards as the foundation of the roster. Rusin has played at all levels of the American system but made his return to the NASL in 2015, first with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and then the San Antonio Scorpions through trade. Smith also has NASL experience via trade to Indy Eleven in 2014 while he was with Montreal Impact. Smith was released by Montreal in May of this year and eventually landed with Yverdon Sport FC in Switzerland.

  • jason

    are any of these guys even potentials for moving up and making an MLS roster sometime soon?

    • Kevin

      Minnesota is becoming maybe the early favorites in the NASL next season.

    • Sunil

      You’re funny when you post other names,Don…I mean…Boss.