We’re just over a week into 2016, and NASL teams have roared into the new year with more signings. At this point, the only teams without player signings announced are Puerto Rico FC (starts in fall 2016), Rayo OKC (admittedly getting a late start…and our Cosmos.
Here’s a look at how the first week of roster moves in 2016 went in the NASL.
After two season with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Brian Shriver returns to the Carolina Railhawks. Shriver logged over 2,600 minutes and scored five goals across both seasons with the Rowdies. This is the 28-year-old forward’s second stint with the Railhawks where he won the NASL Golden Boot and was named to the league Best XI in 2013 in his second season with them. Shriver spent two seasons with the Strikers before that.
After a busy December, the Strikers made one roster move in the opening week of January signing Adriano Manfred Laaber. “Adrianinho” joined after three seasons with Ponte Preta of the Brazilian first division. The 35-year-old attacking midfielder has had a long career in Brazilian soccer, though the bulk of his playing time has been spent with Ponte Preta. Strikers fans caught a glimpse of how he could contribute when his free kick to Julius James nearly resulted in a goal against FC Schalke 04 in the Florida Cup.
First up was Mario Daniel Vega. “El Indio” is the club’s second goalkeeper signing and the 31-year-old Argentine arrives after spending two seasons with Anorthosis Famagusta FC of Cyprus. Previous to that, the goalkeeper spent five years with the famous River Plate of Argentina, and two years with Club Atlético Nueva Chicago.
Next up was Rhett Bernstein. The 28-year-old American center back joins after spending the last five seasons with Mjøndalen IF of Norway. Last season, he led all league defenders, as well as his entire team, in scoring with five goals and in 2014, his efforts were crucial to the team’s promotion to the country’s first division, the Tippeligæn. His experience could be quite helpful to the expansion side come April.
Former teammate Jonathon Borrajo joins Bernstein at the new club. Borrajo, another 28-year-old American defender, spent the last two years in the NASL, making 13 appearances and the league semis last season with the Strikers, and winning it all in 2014 with the Scorpions. Prior to that, Borrajo received a great deal of playing time in Norway, spending 2011 with HamKam and 2013 with Mjøndalen IF, with a short stint at Red Bulls in between.
Alen Marcina, formerly of the San Antonio Scorpions, finds a new home just a state away from his former club where he experienced memorable moments like winning the league in 2014, ending 2015 tied for last, and getting fired at a baggage claim. There are pretty split opinions on Marcina’s effectiveness and personality, but his experience in the league cannot be denied as he was with the Scorpions since 2013 and led a solid effort to capture hardware including the 2014 Fall title and the Soccer Bowl. Signings are expected shortly and it’ll be interesting to see what direction they go with many of his former Scorpions scattered to other NASL teams.
First, came options exercised on three players. Chris Glodack, a goalkeeper, and midfielders Jeff Michaud and Verneri Välimaa kicked off 2016 roster moves for the Rowdies. All three are young players at just 22-years-old. The midfielders were raised in Florida and each saw four appearances. Glodack, who attended the IMG Academy, did not see playing time in 2014. While they did not make a huge impact last season, it’s great to see the Rowdies hang onto young talent for development and I have to wonder if they’ll see time on the new Rowdies NPSL team.
Juan Guerra also returns to the Rowdies as he signed a new contract for 2016 with a club option for 2017. The defensive midfielder made 23 appearances for the club last season, 19 of them starts. He also claimed two goals and NASL Team of the Week honors once in 2015. The 28-year-old Venezuelan’s experience was invaluable and his leadership in his first season with the club was most likely a factor in the decision to bring him back.
Another returning face is the versatile Justin Chavez. The midfielder signs a new one-year contract after a season that saw him make 15 appearances and play every spot on the back line at some point. While only receiving seven starts across the year, he started the final five games of 2015 in a row, finishing strong.
A new signing was the final move of the week for the Tampa Bay club. Attacking mid Michael Nanchoff signs a contract with a club option for 2017 after spending the last two years with the Portland Timbers. Last season, he made four appearances for the first team, while scoring two goals in six appearances for the USL side. Additional background on Nanchoff includes two seasons with the Whitecaps, before joining the Timbers in 2013. That year, he spent part of his time on loan to Jönköpings Södra IF of Sweden where he scored twice in 11 appearances.
Another week of signings for clubs in the NASL. While Rayo has no players, they have finally appointed someone to head the team. Atlanta remains in limbo and Puerto Rico has a few more months to build a squad, but I’m hoping we hear some Cosmos signings shortly, with just over a month remaining before the announced start of their preseason.
The movement keeps coming and Miami continues to raise eyebrows with signings. Bernstein left Norway as his club, Mjondalen, was relegated and he wanted to find first division work. He struggled with a groin injury last season but it seems Miami FC is impressed enough with the 6′ center back to add him to the lineup.
The one player this past week that I am really excited to watch is Adrianinho. In the Florida Cup game on Sunday night, he was really impressive to me showing good pace and intensity with a solid touch and skill on the ball. He also played a very dangerous ball off a set piece. Watching how he develops with the Strikers and PC, in particular. It could be dangerous.
Still waiting on the Cosmos to make some moves.