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USL review: Former RBNYII star Ndam loaned to Charlotte Independence

Here’s your recap of the player moves, spectacular goals and big news you missed in USL this week.

Feb 7, 2019; Bradenton, FL, USA; FC Cincinnati defender Hassan Ndam (47) and D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (9) fight for the ball during the second half at IMG Academy. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

Yes, the Charlotte Independence are still adding players.

Two weeks after acquiring the services of Michael Maria and Zyen Jones, the club has landed Hassan Ndam on-loan from MLS side FC Cincinnati. He will join Charlotte for the remainder of the 2019 season, but Cincinnati reserves the right to recall Ndam at any time.

USL Championship fans should be familiar with Ndam’s work. Playing with New York Red Bulls II in 2018, he was a finalist for the league’s Young Player of the Year award. The centerback from Cameroon appeared in 31 matches for Red Bulls II last season, scoring twice.

He was acquired by FC Cincinnati by way of the MLS expansion draft. Cincinnati selected him from the Red Bulls with their fifth and final pick. The 20-year-old defender is seen to have a lot of potential, but he might not be quite ready for primetime, as he is the lone expansion selection yet to appear for Cincinnati.

Over his career, Ndam has appeared twice in MLS play for the Red Bulls, and twice for them in the U.S. Open Cup.

At 6-foot-4, Ndam impressed in USL play last season, leading Red Bulls II in many defensive statistics, tallying 57 interceptions, 109 clearances and 165 wins in duels. He was named to the USL 20-under-20 list.

With Ndam in the fold, Charlotte’s goal differential of minus-seven should improve. They travel to face Hartford Athletic on Saturday.

Things to know

  • Nashville SC and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds played to a 2-2 draw on Saturday, with Nashville getting both of its goals from centerbacks Ken Tribbett and Bradley Bourgeois via corner kicks. Nashville led 2-0 heading into the 87th minute, but Christian Volesky netted a score to cut the lead, and Nashville’s Kosuke Kimura knocked in an own-goal two minutes into stoppage time for an unfortunate equalizer.
  • Curtis Anderson, an 18-year-old goalkeeper for the Charlotte Independence, turned in a stellar performance Saturday night, saving eight shots and allowing just one goal on the road in a 1-1 draw to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Anderson came up in Manchester City’s academy and helped England win the 2017 U-17 World Cup.
  • FiveThirtyEight has updated its USL Championship odds. As of May 1, Nashville SC was the favorite to lift the trophy at the end of the season with an 11 percent chance. Phoenix Rising and Indy Eleven check in at second and third, each with 10 percent odds. In last place were the Tacoma Defiance, given a less than one percent chance to make the playoffs.
  • Tom Barlow scored his seventh goal of the season as New York Red Bulls II topped Indy Eleven 2-1 on Sunday. The Red Bulls are in second place in the Eastern Conference and Barlow is in a four-way tie for the league lead in goals.
  • Nine and-a-half weeks into the USL Championship season, just two unbeaten teams remain. The Tampa Bay Rowdies have four wins and five draws following their 0-0 result against Indy Eleven on Wednesday. Tampa also has the second-best goal differential in the league, with a plus-10 mark. The other unbeaten team is Fresno FC, which has two wins and four draws through six matches.
  • In USL League One, a snowstorm didn’t stop a sellout crowd from attending the home opener for Forward Madison FC. Pro Soccer USA’s Kyle Eliason has the story.
  • Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed Senate Enrolled Act 7 into law recently, which commits nearly $800 million for operating expenses to fund capital projects. Those projects include renovating the arena where the NBA’s Indiana Pacers play, and a stadium for the USL Championship’s Indy Eleven. The Eleven Park project proposal, a public-private partnership, will now proceed to the City of Indianapolis’ city council. Indy Eleven issued a statement vowing to look ahead to the next steps.

Transactions

  • The Charlotte Independence made an addition to its staff this week, hiring Nate Walzer as the club’s goalkeeping coach. Walzer’s resume includes assistant coaching stints with the Portland Timbers, N.C. State and North Carolina FC.
  • Tacoma Defiance forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez has signed an MLS homegrown contract with the Seattle Sounders. The 17-year-old is currently in Bradenton, Florida, training with the U.S. U-17 national team. He has appeared in three games for the Defiance this season.
  • On Tuesday, Los Angeles Galaxy II announced the signing of Mauricio Cuevas, a 16-year-old LA Galaxy academy product. Cuevas joined the LA Galaxy academy in 2016 and has also featured for the U.S. U-17 national team.

Watch this

Here’s Dane Kelly, doing Dane Kelly things.

Prosper Kasim making Birmingham history.

Audi Jepson with an un-save-able shot from distance.

Just inside the far post for Marios Lomis.

Kevaughn Frater’s hat trick had everything. A nutmeg, a penalty kick and a one-timer from the edge of the box.

No video here, but a neat jersey swap.

They said it

Birmingham Legion forward Prosper Kasim on his game-winner vs. Loudon United, via AL.com: “To be honest, I don’t even know who assisted. I was so eager to score, in fact, each and every one of wanted to score,” Kasim said. “I realized the ball was right in front of me and, and I had to finish.”

Nashville head coach Gary Smith on switching to a three-man backline, playing at Pittsburgh: “It’s not an easy place here. I thought we needed a bit more steel and discipline at the back there. The three-man midfield of genuine midfield players instead of creators. For the large portion of the game, it turned out the right way. Sadly, the game is not 87 minutes long, it’s 90 minutes long. It’s a valuable lesson learned. Most of the choices and construction of the group was pretty much perfect. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to see the job through.”

ATL UTD 2 head coach Stephen Glass on the loss to Ottawa Fury: “We didn’t do enough to win the game, especially in the first half. The challenge for the group was to overcome the travel and the quick turnaround with the midweek game. That’s a challenge that we don’t come up against too often. It’s a little bit of a mental and a physical challenge. I think you could see physically we were up for it because of what happened late in the game, so it is probably something that was a mental thing. Our players need to be focused and be able to start a game and not allow travel to affect them.”

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