After it was announced that Carolina Railhawks coach Martin Rennie would be taking over the Whitecaps at the start of next season, I got to thinking who else from America’s secondary leagues (USL Pro and NASL) could make the switch and lock down a job in the MLS.
We have seen a number of players do it, from Osvaldo Alonso to Lamar Neagle, and of course coaches now make the change once every few years. With all that in mind, here is a list of five figures who are due for a promotion in the upcoming months.
Team: Wilmington Hammerheads (USL)
In his first professional season, the young Englishman has notched nine goals and four assists and is the USL Pro MVP favorite heading into the home stretch. He picks apart defenses with his passing ability and could be a good pickup for any team that is weak in the Central Midfield department. Also at 22 years old, he has plenty of years to develop into an MLS starter.
Who most deserves a chance with an MLS club next season?
Team: Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL)
Now I know FC Dallas fans might not think much of this kid, but the man is putting together a pretty good season down in Pittsburgh. Yeisley leads the Riverhounds in shots and is second in goals this season, and has impressed me in each of the games I have watched him play. Maybe, Dallas isn’t willing to give him another try, but a less competitive team should certainly give him a second chance with the big boys.
Team: FC New York (USL)
Hoffer is the rock of FC New York’s defense and has the potential to be a solid starter at the next level. In a US Open Cup match against the New York Red Bull’s, Hoffer was excellent at tracking back and matching the pace of some of the Red Bulls’ best. Expect to see more of Hoffer in the upcoming years.
Should the MLS and USL/NASL have a pro/rel system?
Team: Puerto Rico Islanders (NASL)
The Dominican International has been tearing it up in his second season for Puerto Rico. Fana has eight goals so far this season and will likely get a call up from the DFF for CONCACAF qualifying next summer. It is hard to suggest an NASL player in a forward dominated MLS league, but Fana deserves a chance with some team next season.
Team: Rochester Rhinos (USL)
Since taking over the Rhinos in 2009, he has gone 27-16-6 and has inspired Rochester’s reign over the USL. He recently achieved his 200th career win, making him one of the most prestigious and experienced coaches at the lower levels of the USSF pyramid. Considering he is a Jersey native, a NYRB contract might be in his future if Backe continues to displease.