by Gerry Wittmann
The most recent news involving NASL clubs includes the announcement that FC Edmonton signed an experienced French midfielder from this winter’s NASL Combine, while another Carolina RailHawk joins the club’s former coach, Martin Rennie, with the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Minnesota Stars FC have returned three more players from last season’s championship side while losing two others to retirement. The Atlanta Silverbacks announced another sponsorship while an important figure at Traffic Sports has moved on to FC Dallas as technical director.
FC Edmonton Sign French Midfielder
FC Edmonton signed French player Serisay Barthélémy, 28. The diminutive midfielder began his career at St. Etienne and played over 100 matches for SC Bastia between 2005-2011, a club that has employed such famous players as 1970s Dutch NT/Ajax star Johnny Rep, 1990 World Cup hero Roger Milla, Chelsea’s Michael Essien, Arsenal’s Alex Song and long-time MLS defender Greg Vanney. Barthélémy was most recently with French side AS Cannes.
“I signed up to the NASL Combine in the hopes of living the North American dream with soccer. After three games at the Fort Lauderdale Combine, a few teams had approached me and demonstrated interest in having me in their club,” Serisay said. “The discussion I had with Harry and Hans was the one that most resonated with me and found to be the best for me and my family. After only a few short weeks, here I am at our training camp in Arizona. I hope to win the NASL Championship with FC Edmonton and look forward to the many fans supporting us! I would like to thank FC Edmonton and NTL Sports Management for this opportunity.”
Also in the Eddies’ Casa Grande, Arizona training camp is 5’9″ defender Diaz Kambere. The 26-year-old was born in Uganda but moved to British Columbia as a youngster and played for the Vancouver Whitecaps between 2006-2008, appearing in 28 matches. Kambere played PDL ball in 2010 with the Victoria Highlanders.
Franks To Vancouver
New Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie has acquired another player whom he coached while with the Carolina RailHawks, as Vancouver announced the signing of midfield veteran Floyd Franks. The 27-year-old Alabama native played in 50 matches for Carolina in the last two years, logging almost 4,000 minutes on the pitch.
Franks becomes the fifth former RailHawk to join Rennie in Vancouver for the upcoming 2012 season. The former UNC-Charlotte player has previous MLS experience playing for the Chicago Fire, and has also played for the Cleveland City Stars, where Rennie also coached, as well as spending time in Denmark with Blokhus FC during 2008-2009. Although a midfielder, Franks has been deputized as a backliner in the past and certainly his versatility and durability are important aspects of what he’ll bring to the Whitecaps in their second MLS season.
Minnesota Stars Return Three, Lose Two, from 2011 NASL Championship Squad
Stars head coach Manny Lagos will have midfielders Daniel Wasson, Kentaro Takada and player/assistant coach Kevin Friedland back for the 2012 NASL season. Wasson missed the 2011 season with a torn ACL but was featured regularly with the 2010 Minnesota club, while Takada returns for his third season with the club. Defender Friedland has been a fixture in Minnesota soccer since 2004, playing over 100 matches for the Minnesota Thunder before joining the Stars in 2010.
Lagos will not have two veterans from last year’s club to call on, though, as both forward Brian Cvilikas and goalkeeper Joe Warren have announced their retirements. Cvilikas played a key role down the stretch as the Stars surprised the league by cruising through the NASL playoffs last season, while Warren cemented his place as one of the top D2 goalkeepers of the era as a goalkeeper on a championship team.
Off the Field News
The Atlanta Silverbacks recently announced a five-year deal with iconic soft drink company Coca-Cola. Not only will the industry giant be the official beverage sponsor of the club, but Coca-Cola has received naming rights to a field at the Silverbacks’ facility.
“We’re extremely excited to be partnering with such an incredible company,” said Silverbacks Director of Corporate Partnerships Scott Flood. “Coca-Cola has been a household name in Atlanta for more than 125 years. We look forward to working with the company not only at Atlanta Silverbacks Park, but also in the local community in the coming years.”
The Silverbacks will host the Charleston Battery at 4:00 pm this Saturday in a preseason friendly. Admission is free to the public.
In other news, FC Dallas announced the hiring of Traffic Sports US executive directorFernando Clavijo as their new technical director. The native of Uruguay had a long career as a player, particularly in the indoor game, before working as a head coach for clubs such as the Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution and Haitian national team. A member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame, the 56-year-old has been involved most recently with Traffic Sports U.S., a company deeply involved with support and team ownership of NASL clubs.
“I want to thank Clark and Dan Hunt, Doug Quinn and Coach Schellas Hyndman for the opportunity to be a part of FC Dallas,” said Clavijo. “I’m very excited to be part of the technical staff and am eager to use my experience in helping FC Dallas be the best professional soccer team and the best player development academy in North America. Coach Hyndman already took us to the MLS Cup, now we need to get there again and win it.”