The NASL has selected its 2012 Best XI team and two Fort Lauderdale Strikers were named to the team. Midfielder Walter Restrepo was one of three unanimous selections to the team and he is joined by first-year Striker Mark Anderson on the team chosen by the NASL’s coaches. The Strikers have had two players named to the Best XI in consecutive seasons after defenders Toni Stahl and Lance Laing were both named to the team in 2011.
“This award is well deserved for both Walter and Mark,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. “Prior to Walter’s injury he was probably the most dynamic player in our league with the ball going forward, and losing him was a big blow to our team and I am happy the other coaches in the league saw how valuable Walter was to our team and our league.”
Restrepo, 24, played a central role for in the Strikers attack throughout the season collecting seven goals and nine assists in all competitions, with his eight assists in the regular season tied for first in the NASL. Restrepo’s season was cut short when he suffered a knee injury during training forcing him to miss the final seven games of 2012. His loss was felt greatly on the offensive end as the Strikers’ scoring average dropped by 0.75 goals per game in his absence. The player who had been the recipient of the majority of his assists was Mark Anderson.
“Mark was probably the most affected by the loss of Walter,” said Shore. “However he had a great rookie season and is also well deserving of being on the Best XI. His knack for goal was special and I think he scored some of the most exciting goals in the league this year.”
Anderson, 23, scored his first goal for the Strikers on May 2nd against Carolina. He would also be named the NASL’s Offensive Player of the Week twice this season after two multi-goal games for Fort Lauderdale. His 11 NASL goals placed him third in the NASL behind only Pablo Campos and Nick Zimmerman, both NASL Best XI selections themselves. Anderson also scored for the Strikers in both 2012 US Open Cup matches. His goal against the San Jose Earthquakes arguably the goal of the entire tournament. Anderson’s midfield strike can be seen here.
“It means a lot to get this award. To receive recognition from the whole league and be put ahead of some exceptional players is a great honor,” said Anderson. “It’s not just an award for me, but for the players and staff that work with me day in and day out and gave me every opportunity to excel on the field. Thank you.”
Anderson, a native of Durham, England, played college soccer in South Florida at Barry University where he was named the 2011 Daktronics DII National Soccer Player of the Year and 2011 Capital One Academic All-America of the Year for DII men's soccer.
Restrepo, originally from San Diego, Calif., played professionally with several teams in Colombia before returning to the United States. Restrepo spent time with Deportes Tolima, Boyacá Chicó, and Express Rojo, appearing in both the Categoría Primera A and the Categoría Primera B between 2006 and 2010.
Here is the rest of the team named by the NASL's coaches:
Pablo Campos, San Antonio Scorpions
The native of Rio De Janiero, Brazil was the recipient of the 2012 NASL Golden Boot as the leading scorer in the league. Campos scored 20 goals this season, after recording 12 last season with the Carolina RailHawks. Campos is the now the leading goal scorer in NASL history with 37 in all competitions. The 29-year-old forward won NASL Offensive Player of the Week five times this season, leading the league in this honor.
Luke Mulholland, Tampa Bay Rowdies
The Rowdies’ midfielder recorded five goals and five assists this season. From Preston, England, Mulholland played a pivotal role in the playoff run last year of the 2011 NASL Champion Minnesota Stars. Mulholland provides a steady presence on the ball for Rowdies as well as excellent off ball runs to provide outlets for his teammates in the final third.
Walter Ramirez, San Antonio Scorpions
Ramirez, a Honduran international, has two goals and six assists on the season. Playing wide on the left side of San Antonio’s midfield Ramirez’s pace and dribbling skills were vital as the Scorpions claimed the NASL Regular Season Championship.
Nick Zimmerman, Carolina RailHawks
Zimmerman led the RailHawks with 15 goals this season. The Tampa, Florida native is the second all-time leading goal scorer in NASL history with 21 across all competitions, and is the second leading scorer in club history. Zimmerman played centrally, out wide and up front this season for RailHawks excelling in each role.
Kyle Altman, Minnesota Stars FC
Captaining the Stars to a second successive playoff appearance, Altman logged 1700 minutes for the team this season. Last season, the Albuquerque, New Mexico, native helped the Stars to the NASL Championship. The 24-year-old is known for his steady play at the back acting as a stopper in front of the Stars goalkeeper.
Ryan Cochrane, San Antonio Scorpions
Cochrane, a two-time MLS Cup Champion with the Houston Dynamo logged 2,276 minutes this season in defense for NASL Regular Season Champion Scorpions. The Portland, Oregon native scored a goal and added three assists during the season. Cochrane anchored a backline that conceded just 27 goals this season, the lowest total in the league.
Paul Hamilton, FC Edmonton
The Calgary, Alberta native led his club in minutes played with 2,024.The rugged 24-year-old center back helped organize the “Eddies” backline this season. Hamilton was named NASL Defensive Player of the Week on May 14th.
Takuya Yamada, Tampa Bay Rowdies
Yamada, a Japanese international was the only field player in the NASL to play every minute this season. Yamada, the last remaining player from the Tampa Bay’s 2010 inaugural season was a member of Japan’s 2004 Asian Cup winning squad. The 38-year-old won NASL Defensive Player of the Week on September 10th.
Jeff Attinella, Tampa Bay Rowdies
Attinella led the NASL in saves this season with 118 saves and boasted a stellar 1.07 goals-against-average. The Clearwater, Florida, native has started over 50 games for his hometown club over the past two seasons. The 24-year-old won NASL Defensive Player of the Week five times this season, which led the league.
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