Three important signings were announced by lower division American soccer teams on Thursday. Orlando City (USL-Pro), Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL), and Rochester Rhinos (USL-Pro) all signed young players with lots of potential yesterday.
Let’s visit south Florida first and the club in Orlando. I say club and not team on purpose. Orlando City Soccer Club operates a professional team, a u23 team in the USL-PDL, a u20 team in the USL Super-20 League, and u12 through u17 teams in the USL Super Y-League.
Orlando announced that they had “promoted” a promising midfielder from their u23 team to their professional team. Adama M’Bengue has been the most consistent player for the PDL side through 10 games this season but joins an already very talented Orlando midfield.
Heading north, let’s pop in on Atlanta Silverbacks. The Silverbacks have a reserve team playing in the National Premier Soccer League (same league as FC Buffalo). The club announced Thursday that they had promoted defender Chris Klute from the reserve team to the senior team. Atlanta could use all the help it can get on their back line, the team has allowed the most goals in the league (25) and has only won a single game this season.
Speedy forward Kendell McFayden signed with the Rhinos but apparently could still play for FC Buffalo later in the summer. McFayden was initially included in the 2012 season media guide published by the Rhinos but wasn’t listed on the team’s official roster. When I saw that the trialist then signed with FC Buffalo I thought something was a little odd. The other two stories involved teams from the same club and the vertical progression of a player to the senior team. McFayden’s trip is a bit different because the Rhinos organization doesn’t operate a reserve team or have a presence in the USL-PDL, NPSL, or USL’s Super-20 League. However, an exciting aspect of this deal (besides the potential of the player himself) is the pipeline this creates for future players. Perhaps more players from FC Buffalo, which features high school standouts from Sections V and VI as well as college talent from both the Buffalo and Rochester areas, could find themselves training or even signing contracts with the Rhinos in the next few years.
McFayden is clearly a prize for the NPSL side and has proven his class throughout this season. He joins a Rhinos forward corp that has struggled to find the net so far in 2012; the team as a whole has only scored 13 goals in 13 games. In fact, the four strikers who have played so far this season have only combined for three goals and one assist. Graciano Brito has one goal from 11 shots in 597 minutes. Andrew Hoxie has one goal on 12 shots in 469 minutes. Isaac Kissi has only played 43 minutes across two games as he tries to recover fitness. Tam McManus plays the withdrawn forward role but only has one goal and one assist to show for himself. Clearly the team needs a fresh approach up top.
I recently pinpointed an effective forward as one of two improvements the Rhinos can make to easily turn their fortunes from a stuttering slump to an unbeatable championship quality run. Perhaps McFayden can provide the spark up front that the Rhinos need to get back to winning ways.