The LA Galaxy II's Ethan Zubak, Phoenix Rising FC's Adam Jahn and Hartford Athletic's Jose Angulo are three forwards to pay attention to in the 2019 USL Championship season.
We’ve already looked at the goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders to watch in the 2019 USL Championship season, which means now it’s time to dig into 10 forwards who will share the spotlight in the new campaign. From experienced veterans to young standouts, the attacking talent in the Championship this season is as good as it has ever been.
It was an obvious choice for Birmingham Legion FC to go after Chandler Hoffman as its first signing in club history, but the Birmingham native also brings with him a serious scoring pedigree in the Championship. The third-leading scorer in the league’s history with 59 regular-season goals, Hoffman could be hot on the heels of Indy Eleven’s Dane Kelly (67) and the Charlotte Independence’s Jorge Herrera (65) by the end of this season. If he is, Legion FC could be in the picture for a playoff place.
Jose Angulo caught fire for OKC Energy FC at the end of the 2017 Championship season, earning October Player of the Month honors as he led the club’s surge to the USL Cup Playoffs. Last year was a different story, however, with Angulo and the club parting ways in June. With two 15-goal seasons to his credit in the Championship, including his 2013 Most Valuable Player season with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, the 31-year-old will be looking to lead the Athletic’s attack as he reunites with Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen. Three goals away from 50 in the Championship’s regular season, Angulo will be hoping for much more in 2019.
Selected as the No. 2 player in the Championship 20 Under 20 a season ago, Ethan Zubak returns to the LA Galaxy II aiming to build on a breakout season that saw him notch double-digit goals for the first time in his career. A former United States U-19 international, Zubak enters the new campaign as one of the most experienced players in Los Dos’ squad, having made 83 appearances for the club in his career. Surpassing his total of 11 goals a season ago could put the 20-year-old – who remains the scorer of the fastest goal in the Championship’s history – on the radar for the Galaxy’s MLS squad.
If 2018 saw Cameron Lancaster take center stage in the USL Championship, Nashville SC will be hoping this campaign will provide an encore. The former Tottenham Hotspur forward racked up a league record 25 regular-season goals last season with Louisville City FC before signing an MLS contract with Nashville, which will see the 26-year-old make the move to the top tier in 2020. This year, though, Lancaster will be looking to match – or even surpass – his previous total and try to help NSC claim its first silverware in the professional ranks.
As with Chandler Hoffman, the announcement of Albuquerque native Devon Sandoval as the first player in New Mexico United’s history was an obvious choice for the expansion side as it enters its inaugural season. The former Real Salt Lake and ATL UTD 2 forward, who netted three times for the Georgia club in 2018, is one of a handful of players that bring a local connection to the side. But if NMU is going to live up to the potential it appears to have on paper, then Sandoval will need to be on form in front of goal given that he’ll likely get good service from the likes of Chris Wehan and others.
With Energy FC in need of a complement to Deshorn Brown in the attacking ranks, Head Coach Steve Cooke brought one of Energy FC’s big offseason additions, Alexy Bosetti, to try and help lead the charge back to the USL Cup Playoffs this season. Having previously featured for Nice in Ligue 1 and won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2013 for his native France, the 25-year-old brings top-level experience to his new club, while a fresh start in a new environment could be just the thing for Bosetti himself after a series of loan stints, who could feature as a playmaker underneath his Jamaican teammate after the departure of Jose Barril from OKC this offseason.
A heralded talent when he joined D.C. United as a Homegrown signing six years ago, Michael Seaton produced the best season of his career last year for Orange County SC as his 15 goals in the regular season and USL Cup Playoffs helped propel the side to the Western Conference Final. Having re-signed with the club late last season, the 22-year-old could take on an even bigger role this year after the departure of Thomas Enevoldsen to Indy Eleven. Should he do so, the breakthrough the young Jamaican has been looking for since joining the pro ranks will be at hand.
There were some big shoes to fill for Phoenix Rising FC this offseason with the retirement of Didier Drogba and Chris Cortez’s decision to move on, but Adam Jahn certainly seems to fit the bill for a powerful target forward that will complement the club’s other attacking pieces. Jahn scored three goals in 10 appearances on loan last season with OKC Energy FCand has produced some nice finishes already this preseason for the defending Western Conference champion.
The Panamanian international notched five goals in 15 appearances for Rio Grande Valley FC last season after arriving on loan from Arabe Unido and Small could make an even bigger splash over a full season with the Toros. The 23-year-old brought more than 100 games of professional experience with him to South Texas and produced 18 key passes and one assist for the Toros. If he can ramp up that production to double-digit goals this season, then Small could play a large role in a resurgence for the Toros overall.
Republic FC scored the second-fewest goals among playoff teams in the Western Conference a season ago as Cameron Iwasa notched 17 of the club’s 44 tallies, but that should change this year with the introduction of Stefano Bonomo to the club’s attack. Most recently of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Bonomo arrives having scored 27 goals in his Championship career – including a career-best 13 to help lead the New York Red Bulls II to the Eastern Conference Final in 2017 – and should add another serious threat to Sacramento’s attack. A former standout at Cal-Berkeley, the 26-year-old has all the tools to help Republic FC take aim at its second USL Cup.
Tag(s): News Features Nashville SC LA Galaxy II OKC Energy FC Orange County SC Phoenix Rising FC Rio Grande Valley FC Sacramento Republic FC José Angulo Cameron Lancaster Stefano Bonomo Chandler Hoffman Ethan Zubak Birmingham Legion FC Michael Seaton Devon Sandoval New Mexico United Carlos Small Hartford Athletic Adam Jahn