Sunday, January 8, 2012

USL Pro Guys, Super!

The MLS SuperDraft is coming up later this week and I'm getting geared up by not trying to figure out the rules of it. Instead, I am just going to follow up on a post I made last year regarding the USL Pro division and declare the "SuperDraft" the crap beer at your least favorite chain restaurant (Rock Ice happens to be a Costa Rican beer, hmm).

Applying the same weighted measurements I used for 2011 Major League Soccer, below is a short list of USL PRO players to keep an eye out for in the future. Some call this league the 3rd division, others call it minor leagues (cringe). I like the league. Stable and has a wealth of good players.

01 : Luke Mulholland, 23 ATT MID (England)
Luke had one of the better goal scoring years in the USL last year and recently moved to the NASL side Minnesota Stars for a few games. 9 goals, 5 assists in 23 games in the USL.

02 : Jhonny Arteaga, 25 F (Colombia)
Jhonny made appearances for MLS reserve teams Crew and Red Bulls last year and had an impact each time he played. He had an impressive per 90 minute goal scoring rate of 0.70 with FC New York last year. He won the USL Golden Boot with 13 goals in 21 games.

03 : Matthew Delic√Ęte, 29 F (Wales)
I'm not sure what else to say about the guy. I wrote on him a few times last year and as fate would have it, his Richmond team played the Crew in the US Open Cup and beat them. "Deli" put in a beautiful header that ended up being the winner. He actually is the "traditional big English" style forward that *assive Report called recent crew signing Olman Vargas. Though, not sure exactly what English tradition they refer too... Andy Carroll?

04 : Jorge Ivan Becerra, 27 D (Mexico)
I have to trust my measurement system with defenders because I saw so little of USL teams last year (Fox Soccer did have a few). Ivan tops the list of Defenders (and 3rd overall) and stands out to me because he put in so many minutes with a good side in Wilmington as well as being one who was chewed up by the MLS Draft format back in '06. Columbus actually picked him up then but he never really saw time with the senior team.

05 : Henry Kalungi, 24 D (Uganda)
I'm noticing a trend with internationals breaking in to the United States via College Soccer then finding themselves on a USL squad. In the case of Kalungi he fell to Richmond via Winthrop via drafted by MLS (Rapids) then not getting a contract. All of the Richmond Kickers side had a great year last year. Kalungi just happens to be the youngest of the group that allowed only 0.88 goals a game (2nd best in USL).

06 : Rob Valentino, 25 D (USA)
Looks like Rob bolstered the best defense in the USL with Orlando (0.67 GA). Though, it appears it was more defend by committee for the team. Rob has been picked up then dropped by a couple MLS teams (Revs, Rapids) without ever seeing a minute.

07 : Paul Nicholson, 25 CDM, (England)
Paul is another who found his way to USL via College. He is another good player on Wilmington's strong 2011 side. He played every minute during their positive 2011 campaign.

08 : Sainey Touray, 21 (Gambia)
Touray probably has the biggest upside here out of the bunch. He has been identified as a talent already (Red Bulls took a look at him as a teen). Last year was the first year he really got some time and didn't disappoint. 7 goals and 6 assists in just 12.9 (90 min) games. That fills up the stat sheet more then most in the USL.

Other guys... Andriy Budnyi, 30 (because he is from Ukraine and born in the former Soviet Union). 8 goals, 6 assists in just 16.4 (90 min) games... Jose Angulo, 23 (another Colombian). 9 goals, 3 assists in 15.8 (90 min) games... Tadeu Souza Terra, 25 (Brazilian). Looks like he was already spotted by a bigger club in Brazil but he lead the USL in assists last year with 8.

Complete USL Pro Stats available HERE.

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