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USL Review: Sounders draft pick, Air Force product Tucker Bone signs with Switchbacks

This week’s USL notebook kicks off with the news of the Colorado Switchbacks signing a pair of standouts from the Air Force Academy.

Jan 5, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Tucker Bone works the ball during the Adidas MLS Soccer Combine at Orlando City SC Stadium. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

The Colorado Springs Switchbacks turned to a pair of locals for a mid-season boost.

Last week, the club announced that it was signing a pair of standouts from the U.S. Air Force Academy in midfielder Tucker Bone and forward Austin Dewing.

Dewing and Bone both featured for the Switchbacks (4-9-2) on Saturday in a 0-3 loss to Rio Grande Valley FC as second half subs. Bone entered in the 62nd minute for his professional debut, while Dewing came on in the 70th.

“It’s big time,” Bone said in a statement. “It’s that step to reaching my ultimate goal of playing at the highest level that I can. I’m looking forward to the games to come for the rest of the season. And I’m looking forward to helping out the Switchbacks and scoring some goals.”

Bone was taken in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, selected 20th overall by the Seattle Sounders. But he never appeared in a game with the club. Through the U.S. military’s World Class Athlete Program, he was able to sign with the Switchbacks.

At the Air Force Academy, Bone had a decorated career, finishing with 25 goals and 22 assists in 81 appearances for the Falcons. As a senior, he was named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year and was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy.

Dewing is a native of Colorado Springs and finished his Falcons’ career with 29 goals and 19 assists in 77 appearances.

“It’s absolutely a dream come true,” Dewing said. “As a little kid, I always wanted to play pro. This is finally my opportunity. But really, I’m thankful for all of the people that made this possible. It’s not really a personal thing, it’s about my coaches and everybody that made this possible. That’s what it means to me. It’s more of a team accomplishment than it is an individual accomplishment.”

Okumu called up to Kenya

A player from the USL Championship ranks will play in the prestigious Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

Joseph Stanley Okumu, a defender for Real Monarchs SLC, was called up to the Kenyan national team for the tournament. Kenya begins play in the competition on June 23 against Algeria in Cairo, Egypt.

Okumu, 22, has played in eight games with the Monarchs this season after making three appearances with the club in 2018. He previously played for a club in South Africa and with AFC Ann Arbor, an NPSL side based in Michigan. Okumu has just one cap for the Kenya national team.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for him in his young career,” Real Monarchs general manager Dan Egner said in a statement. “His selection for the final AFCON roster for Kenya is a testament to the hard work he has put in over the last year. Getting to represent your country at a major tournament is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we couldn’t be happier for Stan. Everyone at the club is excited to watch him take the field in Egypt.”

Things to know

  • The USL will be sending a 27th player to the Concacaf Gold Cup after Panama announced last week it was calling Ernesto Walker up to its squad for the competition. Walker, 20, is a midfielder for LA Galaxy II and was added to Panama’s roster after an injury to Anibal Godoy. Walker has one appearance for the Panama senior team – which came earlier this year – and 10 caps with the country’s U-20 side. With Los Dos this season, Walker has a goal and two assists in 453 minutes of action. He is at the club on loan from Panama side C.D. Plaza Amador.
  • Saint Louis FC and Memphis 901 FC have set a rescheduled date for a match that was postponed earlier this season. Saint Louis will host Memphis on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET. The match was originally set for June 1, but was pushed back due to severe weather.
  • After being fined by the USL last week for facility conditions at La Salle’s McCarthy Stadium, Bethlehem Steel FC will play its contest against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on June 22 at Goodman Field, its home prior to this season. Goodman is not properly equipped with USL standard lighting, so the Steel had been playing games at Talen Energy Stadium, the home of their MLS parent club, the Philadelphia Union. However, the Steel relocated three games this month to give new turf at Talen a rest.

Transactions

  • Nashville SC announced last week that it had traded midfielder Ramone Howell to Phoenix Rising FC. No other terms of the deal were disclosed, but the move does free up an international roster spot for Nashville.
  • USL Championship expansion side Hartford Athletic announced Wednesday that it had bolstered its midfield by signing Danny Barrera to a contract for the remainder of the 2019 season. The 29-year-old had appeared in 97 USL games over his career, most recently playing with the Sacramento Republic and Fresno FC.
  • On Tuesday, MLS side NYCFC recalled goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell from his loan at Memphis 901 FC. Caldwell, 23, has started in 13 matches for Memphis, conceding 18 goals while posting two clean sheets.
  • LA Galaxy II announced Tuesday that it inked 17-year-old U.S. youth national team midfielder Adam Saldaña to a contract. Saldaña is a product of the Galaxy academy and recently played for the U.S. U-17 squad for the 2019 Concacaf Championships.

Watch this

 

They said it

ATL UTD 2 coach Stephen Glass, via The Athletic: “Other USL clubs go and buy a top striker that plays every week. We don’t have that luxury. I think if we had somebody that’s going to score 15, 20 goals a year, we’d probably be right up at the top end of the table.”

Reno 1868 FC coach Ian Russell, via KOLOTV: “(Phoenix Rising FC have) been good for the last three years, they’re a pretty athletic team. Tactically we’ve got to be sound. We’ve got to attack and we’ve got to get it right. Mentally we’ve got to be prepared.”

Nashville SC forward Cameron Lancaster on his goal in a 3-2 win over Hartford: “I came in, and I was able to make an impact. I saw a little bit of space in front of the centerbacks and thought that I perhaps would be able to get the ball through and test the keeper.”

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