Tampa Bay Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti had a sterling season leading his club to the playoffs, but he fell short of selection for the 2020 Championship All-League Team. | Photo courtesy Matt May / Tampa Bay Rowdies
We’ve rounded into Awards Season in the Championship ahead of Sunday’s 2020 USL Championship Final, with Wednesday afternoon bringing the announcement of the All-League First and Second Teams for the past campaign.
With as much talent spread across the Championship’s 35 teams this season as there is, it’s always a tough team to make every season. As hard as it might be to believe, even for someone that’s been as consistently good as someone like Louisville City FC’s Speedy Williams, Wednesday was the first time he’d been honored with selection.
That means there are always going to be those that had a case for inclusion who just didn’t get quite enough support from the voters, made up of team executives from every clubs and media members from across the country who cover the league.
Here are five that I think may have deserved a second look, and why their case stands up.
It’s hard to imagine the goalkeeper that led the Championship in shutouts during a regular season finding himself on the outside looking in on the All-League teams, but that’s what happened to Logan Ketterer. The Locomotive FC shot-stopper recorded eight shutouts as he played every minute of the regular season and made only one error on the season. Ketterer’s 38 saves weren’t among the league-leaders – meaning he averaged 2.38 saves per game – but he still recorded more than All-League First Team selection Ben Lundt (32) over the regular season.
Riverhounds SC had two worthy First Team selections in Kenardo Forbes and Thomas Vancaeyezeele, but maybe the thing that shone through most for the side this season was Ryan James’ high performance in multiple positions. Starting the season as one of the side’s two wingbacks, he was one of the best two-way performers in the league. He finished the season with 43 interceptions, most in the Championship, and also notched five goals. Then while Forbes’ was sidelined with injury, James adeptly took up a central midfield role and helped the Hounds continue their strong campaign, finishing the regular season with 95 recoveries and winning 21 tackles and 70 duels. At 26 years old, the Canadian’s time will come for honors like this, and it may be sooner rather than later.
It’s usually difficult for a younger player to break through into the Championship All-League Team given the established talent in the league, and even more so when the team around you struggles for results, but Jack McGlynn’s performance this season in the middle of the Philadelphia Union II lineup at least boded well for his future. The 17-year-old recorded five goals and three assists for his side and tied for 10th in the league with 30 chances created. Add in some strong defensive numbers – 23 of 28 tackles won, 58.8 percent of duels won and 87 recoveries – and McGlynn put in some impressive work in his 14 appearances during the season. He’s moving to a Homegrown Player deal with the Union next year, and will be one to keep an eye on.
It speaks volumes about the quality of forwards in the Championship that Reno’s Foster Langsdorf didn’t make the cut, even though his double-digit goals tally came at an average of slightly better than a goal-per-game at 85.6 minutes per tally. 1868 FC has been a prolific attacking side in its short history and Langsdorf was consistent in putting chances away – including at one point almost tying the Championship’s single-season record with a goal in seven consecutive contests. Was there that one, signature goal that could have grabbed more attention from voters? Maybe not, but Langsdorf was lethal inside the penalty area, scoring four goals with his right foot, three with his left, and three with his head. That’s a strong season, however you look at it.
As we saw with Langsdorf, this season it was hard to break into the All-League Team even if you got to double-digit goals in the campaign as a forward. So, what’s the case for a player that recorded eight goals and one assist in 15 appearances this season? Well, it’s got a little bit to do with the numbers, but also with the way Guenzatti went about leading the Rowdies to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Uruguayan not only completed 80.6 percent of his passes overall, but 79.7 percent of his passes in the opposition’s half as his link-up play allowed the Rowdies’ attack to run smoothly through him as its main target forward. Add in the leadership Guenzatti showed once again as Tampa Bay’s captain and the work-rate he applied on the defensive side of the ball and it added up to a complete campaign that ended up with him and his side in the Championship Final.