Legion announces roster updates
Some surprising changes
Well, we’ve been rather quiet around here of late since not much has been happening, but now we are into full-fledged offseason mode, in which rumor, speculation, general grousing and other pointless pontifications mostly take precedence over actual news. And there will be plenty of that.
Not so today, though, as the Legion, following several other USL Championship teams, made public some roster information for the coming year. So we can start to get an idea of what the squad will look like for 2022.
First off, 12 players are now under contract. That includes 7 players on pre-existing contracts, 2 on new contracts and 3 whose options have been exercised. The new contracts are for Anderson Asiedu and Prosper Kasim, which means they could be around for a couple of years yet (the details of the contracts were not revealed though). Signing Asiedu should, in this author’s opinion, be considered a major coup, as he could easily have shopped himself elsewhere as a free agent, including to MLS. Thankfully, he’s coming back.
The options exercised are for Trevor Spangenberg, Marcos Ugarte and…Junior Flemmings. That means previous information that he wasn’t coming back was premature at best, or perhaps the result of some top class Twitter trolling by Flemmo himself. Trevor sticking around is also excellent news, as he is starter-worthy player reduced to a backup role. And yes, Matt van Oekel is still under contract. Is he perhaps transitioning to primarily a coaching role? Maybe. The return of Marcos Ugarte is possibly of less importance to the first team, but he is the head coach of the Academy, which explains his continued presence.
Two options have been declined: on Ben Ofeimu and JJ Williams. Both of these are a surprise. Ben was a badly underutilized centerback who deserved far more playing time than he got. As for JJ, he filled the supersub role extremely well, plus he was tied for third on the team in scoring (5 goals) and averaged 63 minutes over 28 games. He will be missed.
That leaves 8 players whose contracts have expired but are still potentially in negotiations. Among them are Neco Brett, Jonny Dean and Jaden Servania. To state the obvious, all those guys are important. Eli Crognale is also on the list, and I suspect he too is one of the players the team is working to bring back. The others are Zach Herivaux, Daigo Kobayashi, Ford Parker and Jake Rufe. Like Junior, Zach has made some social media comments that suggest his future is up in the air, and this confirms that. As for the Legend, my guess is his time with the Legion is likely at an end. He is 38, has had injury issues and was used in a very limited capacity this year. Ford and Jake are both worthy of being more than just benchwarmers and they may well be better off elsewhere. Good luck to both if that’s the case.
Clearly then, there are some holes on the roster. The midfield looks largely intact, pending a couple of signings, but there are now slots to fill in defense and offense. The team definitely needs a third top notch centerback and a like-for-like replacement for JJ at the other end is going to be difficult to find.
Then again, if there is one thing the team has consistently excelled at, it’s drawing new talent. We shall see over the next couple of months what the front office brains trust comes up with.