It was an amazing regular season in USL PRO that was filled with outstanding individual performances. Every week it seemed that we were watching one league record after another be toppled. There were familiar faces that continued to produce, and there were newcomers that burst onto the scene.
Reckless Challenge has decided to honor several of the most impressive performers of 2013. The staff that covers USL PRO got together and voted for an All-PRO team, the Newcomer of the Year, the Coach of the Year, and Most Valuable Player. It wasn’t easy to whittle down a field with so many deserving candidates. Behind the scenes, we’re still debating the merits of some of the players and coaches. Certainly, there are players not mentioned here who had fantastic seasons, but we tried to honor the best in a talented group.
2013 Reckless Challenge All-PRO Team
Each staff member was asked to select a team of the best players using a 3-4-3 formation. When all the teams were submitted, a final team was compiled, using players that appeared most often on the individual submissions. While most of the players who made the cut are known as goal-scorers, we’ve managed to also include distributors and goal-stoppers. I think we’ve come up with a pretty well-rounded team.
Andrew Dykstra, Richmond Kickers - Dykstra was nearly a unanimous selection to our team, and his statistical dominance between the pipes supports our selection. Dykstra led the league in goals-against average (0.863) and shutouts (10). The regular season champions were glad to have him on loan from DC United this season.
Colin Falvey, Charleston Battery – Falvey grabbed the largest number of votes among defenders. His exceptional play in front of a rookie goalkeeper helped the Battery defense achieve the third best goals-against average.
Andrew Marshall, Pittsburgh Riverhounds – The Riverhounds may have had one of the more underrated defenses in the league this year. Down the stretch, the Hounds came up with big stops in big situations. Marshall was a large part of that success.
William Yomby, Richmond Kickers – Yomby was a standout on the most stingy defense in the league. Dykstra was outstanding, but he had help from the guys in front him.
Jorge Herrera, Charlotte Eagles - Herrera was a unanimous selection to the All-PRO team. His 10 goals and 24 points led the Eagles. Those numbers were good enough place him in the top 10 in the league in both categories. The Colombian national was one of several new additions in Charlotte who contributed mightily.
Jamie Watson, Orlando City – Watson was the only other unanimous selection at midfield. He finished the season among the top 5 in assists and points. He was also in the top 10 in goals scored. If not for a late-season injury, he may have taken the top spot in all three categories.
Joseph Ngwenya, Richmond Kickers – Richmond was almost as effective at scoring goals as they were at stopping them. Ngwenya was a major reason why, contributing 9 goals and 5 assists. Ngwenya ranked in the top 10 in the league in goals and points scored.
Matthew Dallman, Pittsburgh Riverhounds – If the Riverhounds scored a goal, it was a safe bet that Dallman served the assist. Dallman set a league-record with 12 assists on the season.
Jose Angulo, Pittsburgh Riverhounds – Angulo was the co-winner of the league’s Golden Boot. The 15 goals he scored for the Hounds this year set a new league record. He was an obvious unanimous selection to the All-PRO team.
Lucky Mkosana, Harrisburg City Islanders - Mkosana was also a unanimous selection at forward. There was a stretch in the second half of the season when it didn’t seem that any opposing defense could keep him from scoring. His 13-goal season included 2 hat-tricks.
Gibson Bardsley, Dayton Dutch Lions – Bardsley tallied 9 goals, 7 assists, and 25 points. He led the Dutch Lions and was in the top 10 in the league in all three categories.
Others Receiving Votes
Eric Reed (GK, Charlotte Eagles), Renan Boufleur (D, Orlando City), Rob Valentino (D, Orlando City), Stephen Basso (D, Harrisburg City Islanders), Josh Rife (D, VSI Tampa Bay), Michael Azira (M, Charleston Battery), Daniel Steres (M, Wilmington Hammerheads), Stanley Nyazamba (M, Richmond Kickers), Dominic Dwyer (F, Orlando City), Sainey Touray (F, Harrisburg City Islanders), Mauricio Salles (F, VSI Tampa Bay)
Eric Reed has a solid season in the net behind a young back line. Mauricio Salles had one of the more spectacular single game performances of the year, scoring 5 goals against Antigua. Dwyer might have set goal-scoring records that stood for decades had he not been recalled to SKC.
Most Valuable Player
Jose Angulo, Pittsburgh Riverhounds - We already mentioned that Angulo, along with Dwyer, set a league record in goal scoring. He scored nearly half of the entire team’s total of 36. The Riverhounds had a rough start to the season and the team didn’t really get rolling until he did.
Others Receiving Votes
Andrew Dykstra (GK, Richmond Kickers), Jorge Herrera (F, Charlotte Eagles)
Coach of the Year
Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers - Cowlishaw nearly guided his Kickers to a perfect season. Some argue that he was handed a lot of talent in the form of loanees from DC United and Houston. Most of us at Reckless Challenge admire the way he dealt with that revolving door of players, fit them into his system, and created an environment in which they could produce.
Others Receiving Votes
Mark Steffens, Charlotte Eagles – It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Eagles. Instead, Steffens led a squad of young players and new signees to the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Newcomer of the Year
Dominic Dwyer, Orlando City - There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the season that Dwyer was having before being called back to SKC after 13 games with Orlando. He broke the record for scoring goals in half the time that it took Angulo to catch him. If he had stayed in USL PRO for an entire season, we might be just giving out one award right now.
Others Receiving Votes
Brian Ownby (F, Richmond Kickers), Odisnel Cooper (GK, Charleston Battery), Christian Ramirez (F, Charlotte Eagles)
Super Sub of the Year
Matthew Fondy, Los Angeles Blues - After all the voting had been tallied, I realized that a name was missing that deserved to be mentioned. I created this category myself and cast the sole vote. Fondy was definitely super in his time with the Blues this season. He scored 10 goals in 10 appearances with the club, becoming only the second player this year to average at least 1 goal per game. What’s more impressive is that Fondy scored most of his goals off the bench. He ranked among the top 10 goal-scorers in the league despite only playing about a quarter of the minutes as most of the players on that list.
Reckless Challenge PROcast
You can listen to some of the Reckless Challenge staff discuss the awards and other USL PRO issues on our PROcast.