By NICHOLAS MURRAY – email@example.com
Monday, March 21, 2016
The 2016 USL Kickoff Weekend is just days away, which makes it time to put the spotlight on players who could be difference-makers this USL season.
First up, it’s the last line of defense for every team, the goalkeeper. Here are five that could play key roles for their clubs this season.
- Alex Bono, Toronto FC II – The former U.S. U23 National Team player looks set to feature consistently for TFC II this season after Quillan Roberts earned the back-up slot to Clint Irwin this preseason. Entering his second professional season, Bono will want to improve on a year that saw him finish with a 2.27 goals-against average and .597 save percentage.
- Devala Gorrick, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Gorrick finished tied for third with nine shutouts a season ago with Colorado Springs as he laid claim to being the club’s first No.1. With a strong defense in front of him, if Gorrick can raise his .709 save percentage higher this year, it will spell even greater success at Switchbacks Stadium.
- Brandon Miller, Orange County Blues FC – Last season’s USL Goalkeeper of the Year has a new home on the west coast in 2016 in one of the major moves in the USL this the offseason. It would be remarkable if Miller was able to match the eye-popping numbers he put up in Rochester a season ago, but his presence could make the Blues even more formidable than a season ago.
- Evan Newton, Sacramento Republic FC – A finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year a season ago, Newton also found a new home this offseason as he headed to Sacramento to replace Patrick McLain, now with the Chicago Fire. One of the heroes in Energy FC’s run to the Western Conference Final a year ago, Newton will aim to do the same for a Sacramento side that expects success.
- Alex Tambakis, Charleston Battery – The loanee from Atlanta United FC will have a battle for playing time with returning USL All-League Second Team selection Odisnel Cooper, but after earning a shutout against the New York Cosmos in the Battery’s final preseason game, Tambakis is the presumptive starter to start the season. How will he perform behind a Battery side that appears a serious title contender?Also to watch: Scott Goodwin, Louisville City FC; Cody Laurendi, OKC Energy FC; Lalo Fernandez, Real Monarchs SLC; Hunter Gilstrap, Pittsburgh Riverhounds; Carl Woszczynski, Arizona United SC