11 NASL Players To Watch In 2015

With the NASL season a month, here's a look at 11 players (one from each club) that could be poised for a big year in 2015
Mar 5, 2015

The offseason has been busy for the North American Soccer League (NASL) and its 11 clubs. Players from all over the world will take the pitch in 2015, and with so many new faces around the league, we put together a list of 11 players (one from each club) to watch for this year.

Some obvious choices, such as Spanish legend Raúl and U.S. international Miguel Ibarra, were left off the list, as we dig a little deeper and highlight several other players that could be poised for a big year in the NASL.  

GK: Romuald Peiser, Ottawa Fury FC – After joining Ottawa right before the start of the Fall Season last year, Romuald Peiser should be the number one goalkeeper for Fury FC. Having youngster Marcel DeBellis nipping at his heels, the competition should bring Peiser to a different level in 2015. Goalkeeper coach Bruce Grobbelaar is focused on having the best ‘keepers in the league and with a bolstered backline to help, Pesier could certainly reach that standard.

DEF: Albert Watson, FC Edmonton – Leading one of the most consistent backlines in the NASL, Albert Watson is poised for a big year north of the border. Watson and his defensive teammates conceded only 28 goals in 27 games last year, keeping the Eddies in nearly every contest. Not always earning the praise that he probably deserves, the Northern Ireland native is a dependent and highly-capable defender that will look to help push FC Edmonton further into title contention after narrowly missing the postseason a year ago.

DEF: Gale Agbossoumonde, Tampa Bay Rowdies – Now reunited with Thomas Rongen, who coached him at the U.S. youth international level, Gale Agbossoumonde could be set for a big year in Tampa Bay. After a bit of a stop-start career thus far, a run of games to build confidence could help the 23-year-old become a dominant center back in a new-look Rowdies backline.

DEF: Eduar Zea, San Antonio Scorpions – The Scorpions’ title run last season was built on their strong defensive record – allowing 24 goals in 27 games. Two of the club’s key defensive players from last year, Greg Janicki and Jonathan Borrajo, are no longer in San Antonio and a lot of responsibility will fall on the former Colombian youth international Eduar Zea. How well he can transition into the heart of the defense will be key as the Scorpions look to defend their NASL Championship.   

MID: Don Smart, Indy Eleven – Looking to build on last year’s inaugural season, Don Smart should play a big role for Indy Eleven. Flying up and down the right flank, the 27-year-old Jamaican should be a catalyst for the club’s attack. Whether it’s putting in dangerous crosses or taking on defenders in one-on-one situations, he could be a game-changer in the Indy midfield. Smart can also chip in with the occasional goal, scoring three times in 2014.  

MID: Ibson, Minnesota United  – The Loons have bolstered their attack, but it’s Ibson’s potential impact in the midfield that could be the most intriguing. He brings the veteran leadership a team competing for titles always seems to have and his world-class experience is vast. The Brazilian midfielder has played for top clubs in Europe and South America (Porto, Spartak Moscow, and Flamengo) and in the top competitions in the world, such as the UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores. Bringing steady performances to the midfield, Ibson should be the deep-lying playmaker that will spring Miguel Ibarra, Kalif Alhassan, and Christian Ramirez, among others, for plenty of goal-scoring opportunities. 

MID: Hans Denissen, Atlanta Silverbacks – After spending one injury-ravaged year with the New York Cosmos in 2014, Hans Denissen is getting a fresh start in Atlanta. A 2013 NASL Best XI selection, Denissen should be used more in an attacking midfield role with the Silverbacks. The Dutch veteran, who scored 12 goals in 2013, will look to get back on the score sheet after last season’s goalless campaign.

MID: Andres Flores, New York Cosmos – After securing a permanent deal with the Cosmos, El Salvador captain Andres Flores should show his full potential in the league after scratching the surface in last year’s Fall Season. As one piece of a New York attack that features several new faces, Flores will patrol the flanks and look to play dangerous balls into the box. After a hamstring injury forced him to miss several key games last year, the midfielder should surpass his mark of one goal and one assist in eight games a year ago.

FWD: Alhassane Keita, Jacksonville Armada FC – Coming to Jacksonville with a strong goal-scoring pedigree, Keita has already looked like a dynamic signing for the Armada FC during the preseason. With years of experience playing in Europe, he has the ability to take on defenders and create chances for himself. The Guinean veteran should score plenty of goals during Jacksonville’s inaugural season.

FWD: Nacho Novo, Carolina RailHawks – Joining the RailHawks late in 2014, Nacho Novo showed glimpses of the ability that helped him achieve a distinguished reputation in Europe. Now with a full season to make an impact, Novo should be even better. The forward, whose most notable stint came at Glasgow Rangers, scored twice in seven appearances in the 2014 Fall Season. With creative midfielders around him, Novo should have no shortage of supply to find the back of the net in the upcoming campaign. 

FWD: José Angulo, Fort Lauderdale Strikers – Leading the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in goals the last two seasons in USL PRO, Jose Angulo should be the focal point of the Strikers’ attack in 2015. The 2013 USL PRO Golden Boot winner will have to fill the shoes of Fafa Picault, who departed for Europe in the offseason. If Angulo can find the back of the net as he has over the past two seasons, Fort Lauderdale will have a formidable striker leading its forward line. 


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