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USL Review: Atlanta homegrown Lagos Kunga loaned to Memphis 901 FC

Memphis 901 FC is getting some help on offense.

On Monday, the USL Championship expansion side announced that it was acquiring Lagos Kunga on loan from the reigning MLS champs, Atlanta United FC. Kunga, 20, is an MLS Homegrown and he will remain with Memphis for the rest of the 2019 season.

“Lagos is a different type of player for us,” 901 FC head coach Tim Mulqueen said in a statement. “He has tremendous speed and is very shifty. He’s someone I’ve known for a long time with the youth national team so when he became available, he was the perfect fit for us.”

Kunga was born in Angola, but raised in the metro Atlanta area and joined the club’s academy system as a youth. In 2017, he signed a homegrown deal and had a brief stint in the USL with the Charleston Battery. Kunga has also appeared for the U.S. U-20 national team.

In 2018, Kunga spent a lot of time with Atlanta United’s USL affiliate, ATL UTD 2. He was a mainstay with the USL Championship last season, leading the team in appearances with 31 and finishing second in scoring with five goals and two assists. He also tallied 12 interceptions and 27 key passes. Near the end of the 2018 regular season, Kunga made the 18-player roster for Atlanta United though he has yet to feature in MLS play.

But room on ATL UTD 2’s depth chart has dwindled. Kunga had made just two appearances for them this season, logging 23 minutes.

“This is a good opportunity for Lagos to challenge himself in a new environment,” Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement. “We believe in Lagos and will closely monitor his development during his time in Memphis.”

Kunga has showed potential as an in-the-box scorer and a threat on the outside. He has mostly played on the right wing in his professional career, but can also play centrally and on the left.

Memphis is in 15th place in the Eastern Conference currently, with a 2-6-3 record and a -5-goal differential. Kunga should be able to provide a boost to the expansion side’s scoring efforts.

“Lagos is a good, young winger,” Memphis sporting director Andrew Bell said in a statement. “He’s got decent pace and also an eye for goal and we’re very happy to welcome him to our group.”

Things to know

  • A pair of ATL UTD 2 players in Guillermo Benítez and Wesly Decas will represent their countries in the U-20 World Cup this summer. Benitiez will play for Panama, while Decas was called up to Honduras. The duo left Atlanta to join their teams this past week. The U-20 men’s World Cup will be played in Poland from May 23 to June 15.
  • Daniel Rios notched a brace as Nashville SC dominated the Swope Park Rangers on Saturday, winning 5-1 at home. Alan Winn, Kharlton Belmar and Cameron Lancaster also chipped in goals for Nashville’s fifth win of the season. It’s the most goals Nashville has ever scored in a game. Recently acquired MLS midfielder Derrick Jones did not feature for Nashville.
  • Apparently, Phoenix Rising FC enjoys performing well in front of its home fans on nights where cheap booze is served up. Behind a brace from Adam Jahn, Phoenix won 3-1 over Rio Grande Valley FC, marking the club’s 10th consecutive win on $1 beer night. It was also the eighth consecutive sellout for Phoenix. Low cost beer and a high-powered offense brings in the fans in Phoenix.
  • Caleb Duvernay, an NCFC academy product, made his professional debut and played 90 minutes in the club’s 2-1 road loss to the Ottawa Fury. Mour Samb and Kévin Oliveira scored for the Fury.
  • From ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle: The USL proposed a rule change to the International Football Association Board on April 17 that would allow for a “head injury substitution.” This would allow teams to more carefully examine players with head injuries without having to burn a full substitution. The USL hopes to have the rule in place in the Championship and League One by the start of the 2020 season.

Transactions

  • The New York Red Bulls have signed Tom Barlow to an MLS contract. Barlow, a 2018 second round MLS SuperDraft pick, had been playing with Red Bulls II in the Championship on a USL contract. In 34 appearances with Red Bulls II, he has scored 18 goals.
  • The MLS arm of Nashville SC struck a deal with the Philadelphia Union to acquire midfielder Derrick Jones for $175,000 in general allocation money. Jones is on an MLS deal, but will be loaned to Nashville’s USL side for the remainder of the 2019 season. Pro Soccer USA’s Joe Tansey has more details here.

Watch this

An errant touch turns into an equalizer.

One touch is all Adam Jahn needs.

Steven Miller with an unstoppable shot.

Mour Samb collects the long ball and scores with a delicate touch.

Sacramento scored just one goal against Reno 1868 FC, but it was a memorable one.

One of the goals Phoenix netted on $1 beer night.

They said it

Birmingham manager Tom Soehn after the Legion’s 3-0 loss to Louisville, via AL.com: “I was disappointed in our mentality. As a group if you took the guys who played well, you couldn’t find many of them.”

Tampa forward Sebastian Guenzatti on the team’s start, via WFLA.com: “As we showed the first ten games of the league, we’ve been doing very good. We have something special going on and I think that the U.S. Open Cup is our chance to prove what kind of team we are.”

Hartford Athletic coach Jimmy Nielsen after a 2-1 home loss to Memphis 901 FC: “I had a high expectation going into this game here. And right now, I’m very, very, very, very disappointed. That is an unacceptable performance from us. 99 out of 100 times, when we don’t perform, I take the full responsibility. But I’m not doing that today. This is 100 percent on the players. Unacceptable performance from the first to the last second of the game. We came in here extremely well prepared. We knew what we wanted to do defensively, offensively. But we didn’t execute.”

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