With S2 just days away from kickoff, now seems like a good time to check up on former players plying their trade in the United Soccer League. Some teams, like Seattle Sounders 2, overhauled their entire roster and brought in a new set of prospects aiming to make the MLS roster one day. Other sides, like Phoenix Rising FC, are trying to bring in aging superstars—either to sell tickets or because Omar Bravo is actually still pretty good... But for Sounders and S2 fans there is really just one main question: are there any former Sounders on any of the plethora of USL rosters? Across the 30 teams that make up the USL, you can find 11 former first team Sounders, one S2 player, and one draft pick.
These former players could only face S2 if they make it all the way through the playoffs, but just in case (or if you want to follow Vic Mansaray), here are the guys with some Rave Green in their blood.
David Estrada- The former Sounder striker is back with the Charlotte Independence. The Independence took over former USL side, Charlotte Eagles, where Estrada briefly played on loan while contracted to the Sounders. Immediately after leaving MLS, he stayed out West playing with USL sides OC Blues and Sacramento Republic. This will be Estrada’s second season with the Independence after scoring six goals in 31 appearances last year.
Darwin Jones and Damion Lowe- The first set of doubles playing out East. Jones and Lowe had their options declined and looked elsewhere; both landed with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. With the South Florida club’s green uniforms and proximity to the coast, it’s kind of like they’re back at Starfire.
Victor Mansaray and Andy Craven- These two former Sounders ended up together again as well, and could be strike partners again for FC Cincinnati. John Harkes was the manager that was going to help groom Mansaray but he was let go during the off-season and replaced with Alan Koch. Vic is there on loan, while Craven signed after finishing last year with the OKC Energy.
Jordan Schweitzer- Schweitzer’s departure was discussed with the club recently and his signing with Orlando City B was about potential first-team minutes in the future.
S2 plays every team in the West at least twice, so you’ll get to see these former Sounders grace Starfire again at least once, potentially twice this season.
Kyle Bjornethun- This one stings a little, the Sounders took the Seattle U defender with the final pick in the final round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft but cut him during training camp. Bjornethun went down I-5 and signed with Timbers 2 for the USL season. It is unclear whether the Sounders would still hold his MLS rights or would USL Discovery Process rights be prioritized over draft pick rights.
Blair Gavin- Yes the former Chivas USA player was on the roster here for a bit in 2013. After leaving the Sounders, Gavin played with the Atlanta Silverbacks, and later with Timbers 2. He’ll stay at the same club as last year where he made 28 appearances with Arizona United which re-branded to Phoenix Rising FC for 2017. He’ll play alongside Shaun Wright-Phillips, Omar Bravo, and potentially Didier Drogba.
Charlie Lyon- Lyon spent two years with S2 after being drafted and signed to the First Team in 2015. After his option was declined following last season, the GK signed with Orange County SC, now a LAFC affiliate club. If he plays well, we may see him with the MLS side in their expansion season next year.
Sammy Ochoa and Adam Moffat- The final pair playing in the USL. Both players closed the 2013 season with Seattle before moving on. Ochoa was released and went to Mexico for a season before returning to the USL with the now defunct Wilmington Hammerheads. The forward spent 2015 and 2016 with the Tulsa Roughnecks, scoring 20 goals including three against S2. Moffat meanwhile spent 2014 in MLS with FC Dallas before moving to the NASL for two years with the NY Cosmos. Both unite this year with Sacramento Republic and will face S2 opening weekend at Starfire.
Jimmy Ockford and Matt Bersano- After spending three seasons with the Sounders, two of which he spent on-loan to the Cosmos, Ockford was released by the club. He quickly signed with Earthquakes affiliate Reno 1868 FC. Bersano was signed by San Jose at the MLS level to back up David Bingham but with only one signed GK and one Academy GK, there’s a good chance we’ll see Bersano playing in the USL at one point. Bersano is the only one on this list who only played for S2.
Other players to watch for:
Ashani Fairclough and Qudus Lawal- Both were with the Wilmington Hammerheads in 2016. Neither have signed with a USL side for 2017 after the Hammerheads moved to the PDL.
Sean Okoli- NYCFC seems happy with him in MLS but he may head to San Antonio FC (their affiliate) on loan.
Giuliano Frano- Spent 2016 with Whitecaps II and may sign with another USL side for 2017.