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USL Championship 2021 Fans’ Choice Midseason Awards

By Staff, 08/18/21, 4:15PM EDT


Which players get your vote as the league’s best at the midway point of the season?

The conclusion of Week 16 in the 2021 USL Championship regular season on August 8 marked the midway point of the season. The campaign has already produced numerous outstanding individual and collective displays across the league, including a plethora of young talent that has made a name for itself alongside the established veterans and former award winners.

With numerous standout performances across the league, both on the field and on the sidelines, we’ve selected our nominees for the USL Championship Fans’ Choice Midseason Awards. Now you get to cast your ballot for which player or coach should claim the 2021 Fans’ Choice USL Championship Midseason Award across five categories.

All statistics below are through Sunday, August 8.


Jeff Caldwell Hartford Athletic

One of the major pieces to Hartford’s success this season, Caldwell was tied for the league lead with 60 saves on a 73.8 save percentage and had a differential of -5.82 in goals conceded and Expected Goals Against, second-best in the league.

Elliot Panicco Austin Bold FC

The leader in the race for the Golden Glove for much of the season, Panicco recorded a league-high six shutouts and 28 saves on a 70% save percentage.

Rocco Rios Novo Atlanta United FC

The Argentine youth international recorded 38 saves in 10 appearances at a 71% save percentage, and posted a -6.75 differential in Goals Conceded to Expected Goals Against, the best by any goalkeeper in the league.

Matt VanOekel Birmingham Legion FC

VanOekel put in a collection of impressive performances while racking up 49 saves and five shutouts at a 76.2% save percentage. He also netted a -4.31 Goals Conceded / Expected Goals Against differential.

Alex Tambakis New Mexico United

Taking over from Cody Mizell this season, Tambakis recorded 40 saves on a 72.2% save percentage and five shutouts. He posted a -5.35 Goals Conceded / Expected Goals Against differential to help New Mexico remain in playoff contention.


Paco Craig The Miami FC

A former All-League selection, Craig’s addition to Miami’s back line in his return to the league has seen the veteran live up to lofty expectations. He’s had a league-high 88 clearances as well as 26 interceptions and 104 recoveries and 64.5% duel success rate, all of which added up to a +1.80 Goals Added rating.

Conor Donovan OKC Energy FC

While Energy FC had ups and downs in the first half of its season, Donovan was consistently strong, recording two goals, 27 interceptions and 56 clearances while posting a 64% duel success rate and sitting at a rating of +1.68 Goals Added.

Jonathan Gomez Louisville City FC

Gomez shone as one of the league’s top talents for LouCity in a two-way role for the side. He has recorded two goals, six assists and 25 key passes, and defensively won 57.3% of duels and 12 tackles at an 80% success rate alongside 24 interceptions.

Aaron Guillen Tampa Bay Rowdies

In another strong season for Tampa Bay’s back line, Guillen has shone impressively with a 74.3% duel success rate and 18 tackles at a 66.7% success rate, while also notching 40 clearances, 35 interceptions, 95 recoveries and a +0.78 Goals Added rating.

Yuma El Paso Locomotive FC

The Spanish veteran was part of eight shutouts – the most of any individual player through August 8 – for Locomotive FC and recorded a 60.6% duel success rate, won 17 tackles at a 68% success rate and made 23 interceptions defensively while sporting a 92% passing accuracy rate.


Wilmer Cabrera Rio Grande Valley FC

Returning to the club for a second time, Cabrera has built a foundation for success with the Toros, blending a group of youth and experience into a playoff contender in the Mountain Division. RGVFC’s recorded five shutouts and a +6-goal differential while exceeding its Expected Points mark by +2.59xP.

Danny Cruz Louisville City FC

Taking the reins as interim Head Coach one game into the season, Cruz has kept LouCity comfortably on top of the Central Division and among the USL Championship Final contenders with a side that had recorded 37 goals in 17 games and a +17-goal differential.

Bob Lilley Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

With a retooled squad after offseason departures, Lilley’s Hounds picked up the tempo as the season progressed to sit with 10 wins and a +8-goal differential through 17 games while sitting at +4.71 over their Expected Points mark.

Mark Lowry El Paso Locomotive FC

Lowry’s side continued to find new heights after reaching the Western Conference Final each of the past two years, losing just once and posting the best defensive record in the league with eight shutouts, a +16-goal differential and a league-best +9 over the club’s Expected Points mark.

Rick Schantz Phoenix Rising FC

Schantz’s defending Western Conference Title-holders were tied for the league-high with 11 wins through 16 games, posting a league-best 38 goals as well as seven shutouts and a +25 goal differential and a +4.97 above the club’s Expected Points mark.


Ronaldo Damus Orange County SC

The 2019 USL League One Golden Boot winner took little time to acclimate to the Championship, scoring nine goals at a rate of a goal every 116.6 minutes on 66.7% shooting accuracy and a +1.61 Goals Added rate despite missing time with Haiti at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Nathan Fogaca San Antonio FC

The 22-year-old Brazilian took a little time to get acclimated to his new surroundings, but then went off for seven goals and one assist while averaging a goal every 137.6 minutes and posting a mark of +2.19 Goals Added for the side.

Jonathan Gomez Louisville City FC

On the radar of both the Mexico and United States Men’s National Teams, the 17-year-old Gomez has had a stellar campaign with two goals, six assists and 25 key passes in attack and a 57.3% duel success rate, a 80% tackle success rate and 24 interceptions.

Diego Luna El Paso Locomotive FC

The 17-year-old playmaker who arrived at El Paso this preseason has quickly shown why the club was excited to sign him to his first professional contract with five goals, three assists and 19 key passes. Luna averaged a goal every 173.2 minutes over the first half of the season, while notching 25 total shots.

Michee Ngalina Col. Springs Switchbacks FC

The Robin to Hadji Barry’s Batman in the new-look Switchbacks’ lineup, Ngalina has been one of the biggest attacking threats out wide this season as he reached the midway mark with five goals and tied for a league-high with seven assists. Also notching 28 key passes and 50 shots, the Congolese winger earned a +3.77 Goals Added rate for his performances.


Solomon Asante Phoenix Rising FC

The two-time Most Valuable Player continued his remarkable production for Rising FC in the attacking third with his eight goals and six assists putting him second in the league in combined goal contributions, alongside 37 key passes and 22 shots on target for Rising FC.

Hadji Barry Col. Springs Switchbacks FC

One of the new arrivals at downtown Weidner Field, Barry recorded 15 goals in 15 games as well as three assists for the Switchbacks to set up a chance at breaking the league’s single-season scoring record. The Guinean also notched 28 key passes and a +1.42 Goals Added rating.

Neco Brett Birmingham Legion FC

The Jamaican forward continued to shine for Legion FC as his 10 goals at an average of 120.8 minutes per goal accounted for more than 50 percent of Birmingham’s 19 goals in the first half of the season. Barry also notched 15 key passes and a 23.3% shot conversion rate.

Rodrigo Da Costa FC Tulsa

Da Costa helped keep Tulsa’s attack ticking over consistently in the first half of the season with eight goals and four assists and 31 key passes, while posting a 60% shooting accuracy rate and a +4.36 differential between his Expected Goals and Goals scored totals.

Ronaldo Damus Orange County SC

The Haitian international scored nine goals at an average of a goal every 116.6 minutes as well as recording two assists and a 66.7% shooting accuracy rate, and posting a +1.61 Goals Added rating while also competing in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup for his country.

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