USL Roundup: Preseason Games, More Signings and Affiliations

Wilmington Hammerheads USL

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

USL teams are no longer just waiting around for the soccer season to start — they are actually playing games!

Some of those preseason fixtures included games against MLS and NASL sides where USL teams looked to begin the process of bringing new players into team plans. New signings are also coming fast and furious as new teams San Antonio and Cincinnati fill out the remaining holes in their roster.

Preseason Sees OKC, SLC and Others in Action

USL preseason has begun, seeing teams playing MLS and NASL sides as everyone looks to build into match form heading into the season.

One of the bigger preseason games saw the Oklahoma City Energy play NYCFC at IMG Academy. New York pulled out a tight 1-0 victory as they look to get back on track with new head coach Patrick Viera. The only goal came in the 23rd minute when David Villa took advantage of a miscommunication and eked a shot past goalkeeper Cody Laurendi. OKC had chances to equalize but NYCFC held tight defensively, sending the USL side to a preseason loss.

Monday night was a great start for Real Monarchs SLC as they took a 3-0 preseason victory over Costa Rican side AD Carmelita. Ricardo Velazco and Andrew Brody netted goals in the first half, sending SLC to an easy victory. The third goal came from trialist Jean Carlos who laced a free kick to the head of Jay Caparelli. This puts SLC at a preseason record of 1-1 after a loss to Santos de Guapiles.

Other preseason games included the Colorado Rapids downing the Sacramento Republic 1-0, FC Montreal earning a draw against parent team Montreal Impact and LA Galaxy II pulling out a victory of San Diego State.

San Antonio and Cincinnati Fill Out Rosters

San Antonio FC have filled out their midfield and defense with the signing of Miguel Salazar and Sam McBride. Salazar is coming off of a strong senior year with Elon University Phoenix. He was invited to the 2016 MLS Combine and played as part of the Real Salt Lake AZ Academy. McBride also had a bright college career, being named to the All-CAA Third Team this pass fall. He will more than likely play in the center back role as the team looks to strengthen their defense.

FC Cincinnati packed six new signings in over the past week but none are bigger than Guam goalkeeper Dallas Jaye. The FC Tuscon player since 2013 had four appearances with the Guam national team and claimed the 2015 Big East Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Other signings for Cincinnati includes former Carolina Railhawks midfielder Jamie Dell and Ohio Wesleyan defender Evan Lee who garnered North Coast Athletic Conference Defender of the Year honors in 2015. Currently, FC Cincinnati’s goal has been to keep things local with players from the area or have a playing history associated with Ohio.

Affiliation Renewals in 2016

Both the Richmond Kickers and Sacramento Republic FC will see their relationships with MLS sides flourish in the coming year. For Richmond they have renewed their partnership with DC United for two season while Sacramento has renewed their agreement with the San Jose Earthquakes. Both sides have seen minimal impact with only a few standout players moving between the ranks. However, with the growth of USL and the need for MLS teams to provide real game experience to younger players, expect these relationships to become far more useful in the years to come.

Currently, eight of the twenty-nine total teams do not have affiliations. This includes newcomers like San Antonio FC and FC Cincinnati. Some did have affiliations but lost them as MLS teams have decided to operate their own division three sides. Harrisburg City Islanders and Louisville City FC are two examples of that. While they may remain unaffiliated this season, expect that they would look to collaborate with a higher division side in the near future.


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