Nearly half of the players taking part in the upcoming NASL season will hail from foreign shores.The North American Soccer League Spring Season kicks off on the weekend of April 12-13 and almost 45 percent of the combined 10-team 2014 rosters will feature international stars. Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of some of who are expected to be regulars on the season’s NASL International Spotlight that will be compiled every Monday.
Goalkeeper Derby Carrillo (El Salvador) signed after having played with U.S. amateur club Cal FC under Silverbacks TD Eric Wynalda in 2012. Carrillo also spent time with Santa Tecla of El Salvador and has appeared with the country’s national team in 2013. Forward Junior Sandoval (Honduras) is a former Silverbacks Reserves player who spent time with CD Marathon in his native country before returning to Atlanta. Up front, Atlanta will be led by one of the top three overall goal scorers during 2014 World Cup Qualifying, Deon McCaulay (Belize). Belize’s all-time leader in goals scored will be side-by-side with former 2004 Olympian Kwadwo Poku (Ghana). After the Olympic Games, Poku played in his native Ghana before seeing action with four different clubs in Denmark.
The RailHawks defense will be marshaled by the experienced Kupono Low (Puerto Rico) who was the only outfield player to see action in all 25 NASL matches in 2013. The Puerto Rican international is also a game shy in the all-time list of matches played since the NASL revamped in 2011. Carolina’s midfield is once again commanded by several returning internationals which includes the squad’s top points leader Ty Shipalane (South Africa), who scored three goals and dished out four assists in 2013. Shipalane is part of a midfield combination that includes Enzo Martinez (Uruguay) as well as the Ticos’ Jake Beckford (Costa Rica) and Cesar Elizondo (Costa Rica).
Caribbean Cup veteran Kareem Moses (Trinidad & Tobago) has been added to an already solid Edmonton backline that is led by the experienced pair of Lance Laing (Jamaica) and Albert Watson (Northern Ireland). The Eddies aim to improve their offense with the addition of former Manchester United FC Academy midfielder Ritchie Jones (England) as well as forward Tomi Ameobi (England), who has played with several English teams and clubs in Iceland and Finland. Edmonton’s leading scorer in 2013, Forward Daryl Fordyce (Northern Ireland) will once again be called on to command Eddies attack after the former youth international notched a team-high seven goals in 2013.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Several experienced internationals have been added to the Strikers with former German Bundesliga goalkeeper Oka Nikolov (Macedonia) leading the offseason signees. The Macedonia international spent 19 seasons in Germany while appearing in more than 400 official matches. With the defensive returnees of Rafael Alves (Brazil) and the 2013 team’s assist leader (6), Ivan Guerrero (Honduras), the Strikers have also obtained the services of former FC Edmonton midfielder Chris Nurse (Guyana). The English born Nurse has more than 40 international matches with Guyana under his belt, many as captain. Another that has played in the Bundesliga is forward Marius Ebbers (Germany) who is scheduled to team-up with Caribbean international Yaikel Pérez (Cuba).
Indy Eleven made several impact signees during the offseason and it began with club’s first player, goalkeeper Kristian Nicht (Germany). Before 2013 ended, Indy Eleven added 2008 Olympian Erick Norales (Honduras) to its defense. The Honduran international will be joined by fellow countryman and former San Antonio Scorpions midfielder Walter Ramirez (Honduras). The club’s key signee came recently with the first FIFA World Cup winner to join the NASL in the modern era, Kleberson (Brazil). The former Manchester United midfielder will play alongside another South American native, Pedro Mendes (Brazil). The former Atlanta Silverbacks forward has been a scoring threat for Indy Eleven during the preseason.
Minnesota United FC
A team with the most natives of the host country for this 2014 FIFA World Cup, Minnesota United, looks to blend international experience with returning veterans. Joining Cristiano Dias (Brazil) on the backline will be Tiago Calvano (Brazil). Calvano has also spent time in Australia, Germany, Italy and Switzerland before coming to Minnesota. With Omar Daley (Jamaica) and Kentaro Takada (Japan) once again back, Daniel Mendes (Brazil) and Juliano Vicentini (Brazil) join United’s midfield. Both Brazilians have experience playing overseas with Mendes playing in Colombia, Sweden and Korea Republic, while Vicentini has seen action with clubs in Italy and Portugal. With the NASL all-time leader in goals and games played, Pablo Campos (Brazil), sidelined with an injury for the Spring Season, Minnesota’s offense is now in the hands of the team’s second leading scorer from 2013, Simone Bracalello (Italy).
New York Cosmos
The defending NASL Champions did not waste any time securing key signees to join their already packed international squad for the upcoming season. With the defensive returnees of Ayoze (Spain) and Rovérsio (Brazil), the Cosmos will once again look for leadership in the midfield with former World Cup international, Marcos Senna (Spain). Senna, who scored a team-high five times in 2013, is complimented by a large selection of forwards in this New York squad. Another who scored five goals in 2013 was Diomar Diaz (Venezuela) and he will be joined up front by the team’s assist leader (3) Stefan Dimitrov (Bulgaria) and Alessandro Noselli (Italy) who notched three goals, including the club’s first in 30 years. The Cosmos front line has been strengthened by the offseason additions of former San Antonio Scorpions leading scorer Han Denissen (Netherlands) and Scandinavian Mads Stokkelien (Norway).
Ottawa Fury FC
Fury FC is another rookie squad that added several internationals for the 2014 season. The strong backline will be anchored by a combination of height, youth and experience… Height – in the form of 6’5” Omar Jarun (Palestine), who recently played during the Asian World Cup qualifiers; Youth – former UEFA Under-17 international Ramon Soria (Spain); and Experienced – Maykon (Brazil), who played in his native country before seeing action in Cyprus and Portugal. Fury FC’s midfield features Richie Ryan (Ireland), who has played for clubs in England and Ireland since 2003. Ryan also has 111 appearances in the UEFA Europa League. The midfielde also includes Nicki Paterson (Scotland) and youth international Hamza Elias (Ghana). The frontline will feature a pair of Samba strikers in Vini Dantas (Brazil), who has played in England, Finland, Norway and Oliver Minatel (Brazil), who has tooled his game in his native country as well in Netherlands and Portugal.
San Antonio Scorpions
Coach Alen Marcina has brought in several overseas players including from within NASL to bolster his squad in 2014. Caribbean international defender Julius James (Trinidad & Tobago) joins San Antonio after spending 2013 with the Carolina RailHawks. Another national team veteran Richard Menjivar (El Salvador) will now anchor the Scorpions midfield after doing so for the Atlanta Silverbacks last season. Joining the team’s top scorer (9) Tomas Zahorski (Poland), up front will be Eric Hassli (France), who has spent time playing in his native country as well as in Switzerland before coming to the United States. Rounding out the Scorpions forwards are Danny Barrera (Colombia), who scored four goals and had seven assists with the Atlanta Silverbacks last year, and another Caribbean international, Jonathan Faña (Dominican Republic), who has previously played in the NASL with the Puerto Rico Islanders.
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Caribbean international Ryan Thompson (Jamaica) will join the Rowdies goalkeepers core that currently includes Diego Restrepo (Venezuela), who is ranked fourth all-time in saves during the NASL modern era… With Asian veteran Takuya Yamada (Japan) once again in the defensive backline, European league signees of Christophe Lallet (Sweden) and Darel Russell (England) are added to the Rowdies midfield… Lallet and Russell have stood out in their respective countries prior to arriving to the NASL. The front line sees the return of NASL Golden Ball winner Georgi Hristov (Bulgaria). Hristov led the Rowdies in scoring last season with 12 and the league itself with eight assists. Also returning up front is former English Premier League veteran Carl Cort (Guyana), who has also played international in the Caribbean.
COSMOS ANNOUNCE EXPANDED TV COVERAGE THROUGH ONE WORLD SPORTS PARTNERSHIP
The New York Cosmos announced that the team’s home games for the 2014 NASL Spring Season can be seen on ONE World Sports, their television broadcast and national network partner.
New York Cosmos home games presented by ONE World Sports can be seen from New York to Hawaii on Optimum TV from Cablevision (Channel 414 and 1159), Verizon FiOS1 News (Channel 1), Mediacom (Channel 679 in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Channel 879 in Quad Cities, Iowa), Google Fiber (Channel 251), Hawaiian Telecom (Channel 91 and 1091) and Dish Network (Channel 9794).
“ONE World Sports proved last year that their production of our games is of the highest level,” Cosmos Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover said. “With our games this season on both Cablevision’s Optimum TV and Verizon, this allows us to reach even more of our fans in the tri-state area.”
On Sunday, April 13 at 5 p.m. ET, the Cosmos will kick off the defense of the team’s championship title in the season opener against the Atlanta Silverbacks at Hofstra University’s James M. Shuart Stadium. The Cosmos' on-air team will feature play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and Janusz Michallik as the color analyst.