Fort Lauderdale CF striker Ricky Lopez was on the mark once again, goalkeeper Ximo Miralles got his preseason underway across the Atlantic in Soria, Spain, and former manager John Galas led FC Tucson to a win and a draw in USL1 play.
KHIRY SHELTON – SPORTING KANSAS CITY (MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER)
Shelton started and played the entire match for Sporting Kansas City in a nailbiting 3-2 loss to FC Dallas on Saturday the 19th. While he didn’t end up on the scoresheet, Shelton contributed plenty to SKC’s attack; completing 21 passes, 18 pressures, and five shot-creating actions. His 0.5 expected assists didn’t materialize into any actual assists, but the progressive play was a huge factor. Unfortunately for SKC, an 86th-minute goal off a brutal defensive error sealed their fate late in the match.
Shelton had a tougher time out against Orlando on Wednesday the 23rd, although he still started and played another full 90 in the 1-0 loss. Khiry was able to break through Orlando’s back line and provided what would have been the game-tying assist to Johnny Russell, but he was ruled offside by a slim margin. He finished with one key pass and two shots off target as SKC was unable to unlock Orlando City for the equalizer.
Next Week: 9/27 @ Colorado Rapids
HASSANI DOTSON – MINNESOTA UNITED FC (MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER)
Dotson started and played the entire match for Minnesota versus the Houston on Saturday in a holding midfield role. He led the team (and match) with 28 pressures—at least 13 more than any other player—along with two tackles, three interceptions, and one key pass in a 2-2 draw.
Dotson was arguably Minnesota’s best player against league-leaders Columbus in their 2-1 loss to the Crew on Wednesday. Hassani completed 87% of his passes as well as 3 out of 4 long balls and won 8 out of 10 ground duels. After the game, he stated, “As a competitor, I want to win the game, for me, a point is not good enough but given that we were 2-nil down, we would have taken the point at that stage.” Read his full post-match quotes here.
Next Week: 9/27 vs Real Salt Lake
RICKY LOPEZ-ESPIN – FORT LAUDERDALE CF (USL LEAGUE ONE)
Lopez-Espin started and played the full match against South Georgia Tormenta FC in a 2-1 defeat. Ricky completed 87.5% of his passes and put two shots on target that were both saved, adding two duels won and two clearances.
Lopez-Espin got off to a hot start against the Richmond Kickers on Wednesday, poking in a true center forward’s goal before the clock even hit five minutes. Fort Lauderdale couldn’t keep up the momentum, ultimately losing 2-1, but Lopez-Espin finished with three ground duels won, two aerial duels won, and two fouls drawn alongside the team’s lone goal.
Next Week: 9/26 @ FC Tucson; 9/30 vs Union Omaha
AKEEM WARD – NORTH CAROLINA FC (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
Akeem Ward and North Carolina FC were put in a tough spot in the 67th minute against Charlotte on Saturday night when their captain, Nazmi Albadawi, earned his second yellow card and was sent off while trailing 1-0. Charlotte’s lone goal came from a header after they were reduced to 10 men in the first half. Ward himself contributed two key passes and two successful crosses, one of which was headed wide by Manny Perez at the hour mark on a golden opportunity to level, in an all-around tough night for North Carolina. Full highlights here.
NCFC’s Wednesday match against Memphis was cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Memphis 901 organization.
Next Week: 9/26 @ Birmingham Legion; 9/30 vs Charlotte Independence
NICK MOON – INDY ELEVEN (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
Moon started and played 79 minutes for Indy Eleven against Saint Louis FC on Wednesday, nearly scoring off a great intuitive run in the 18th minute. While he wasn’t able to get his name on the scoresheet, Moon was critical in buildup play, completing 88.9% of his passes—including 85.7% in the opponents’ half—and winning three duels. Indy Eleven ended up evening the match in the 71st minute but couldn’t find a winner against nine-man Saint Louis.
Next Week: 9/30 vs Swope Park Rangers
KYLE COFFEE – REAL MONARCHS SLC (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
On Saturday, Coffee came off the bench in the 76th minute for Salt Lake City after scoring against Timbers 2 a few days earlier. He hardly saw any of the ball, recording only one touch as El Paso parked the bus to preserve a 1-0 win.
Next Week: 9/26 vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks
JOHN GALAS & AJ VALENZUELA – FC TUCSON (USL LEAGUE ONE)
Head coach John Galas and FC Tucson picked up four points from their two matches this past week. They started things off with a 1-1 draw on the road against North Texas SC last weekend, with in form midfielder Elivelton tallying the side’s lone goal. North Texas midfielder Edwin Cerillo was sent off for a straight red card in the 21st minute, but Galas’ charges were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority.
The squad earned a hard-fought win back at home on Wednesday by taking down Forward Madison FC 2-1 as Brazilian Elivelton scored in his third straight match to give Tucson an early lead. The side from Wisconsin levelled before the half, but Joshua Coan restored the lead in the 55th minute with a beautiful strike and the home team was able to see out the victory. The win vaults Tucson up to 5th place in the USL1 standings.
After the match, Galas highlighted that, “I told them at halftime that we are going to get throttled if you don’t work harder off the ball and defend,” adding, “We needed to fight and claw our way back into the game. And that’s what we did. I’m so proud of how we did tonight and how we have done over this stretch of games.”
Valenzuela was not included in the team sheet for either match.
Next Week: 9/26 vs Fort Lauderdale CF
XIMO MIRALLES – CD NUMANCIA (SPANISH SEGUNDA B DIVISION)
Miralles got his first taste of action with his new club CD Numancia, with whom he signed last month from AD Alcorcón, during their first preseason friendly of the year, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of SD Logroñés. Ximo was given the start between the sticks and played the initial 44 minutes as all three netminders were given some playing time, conceding one goal off of a free kick.
Numancia bounced back in their second preparatory match on Wednesday against SD Tarazona, winning 2-0. Miralles seems to be the early-season favorite in goal as he again earned the start and played the entire first half, contributing to the clean sheet and departing with his team holding a two-goal advantage.
Next Week: 9/26 vs. Haro Deportivo (pre-season friendly)
WILL SEYMORE – SLIGO ROVERS (LEAGUE OF IRELAND PREMIER DIVISION)
Seymore started and played 89 minutes at left midfield in Sligo’s narrow 1-0 defeat to Bohemians last Friday. He had a chance to give his team the lead at the quarter-hour mark, but his header off a corner kick went wide, and in the final minutes knocked the ball down off a corner for teammate Ronan Coughlan, but the striker blazed over.
Next Week: 9/26 @ Waterford FC
Matt Bersano was the backup goalkeeper behind starter Daniel Vega during San Jose’s 6-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Saturday.
Luis Barraza was Sean Johnson’s backup in NYCFC’s goalless draw against New England on Saturday.
Forward Jaret Townsend was not included on the matchday roster for either of Sporting Kansas City II's games this past week.
Ben Willis continued to sit out of the squad for Rio Grande Valley FC as he recovers from a pair of torn labrums. Similarly, Oklahoma City FC Energy’s Amer Sasivarevic continutes to rehab from his torn ACL. We wish them both the best in their recoveries and hope to see them in action soon!
Joel Rydstrand and San Roque are yet to restart their season in Spain’s Tercera División.