There’s nothing like having an effective 1-2 scoring punch when it comes to attacking success, and this season in the USL we’ve seen the effect it can have on a team’s fortunes with some of the leading contenders for the USL Cup in possession of some of the more dynamic forward partnerships in the league.
Partnerships like that of Reno 1868 FC’s Dane Kelly (18 goals) and Antoine Hoppenot (12 goals) a season ago – who helped the side both set a regular-season scoring record with 75 goals and equal the single-season record set by Louisville City FC’s duo of Matt Fondy (22 goals) and Magnus Rasmussen (8 goals) in 2015 – and others before and since have led clubs to success in both the regular season and playoffs.
Here are five of the top partnerships in the USL, let us know in the online ranking below which you would take as your attacking duo going into the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs.
Danni König has been part of one of the most prolific single-season partnerships in the league’s modern era when he teamed up with current Saint Louis FC forward Kyle Greig to record a combined 28 goals in the 2015 regular season, but this season the Dane has picked up where he left off after his move to Cincinnati last summer with the assistance of newcomer Emmanuel Ledesma, whose flair for the spectacular has seen him the Argentine record most goals from outside the penalty area in the league this season. With both players sitting on 10 goals in the USL in 2018 – and Ledesma having added another 10 assists – the pairing has combined strongly throughout the season to help lead FCC to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Both members of Louisville’s squad since its inaugural season in 2015, Cameron Lancaster and Ilija Ilic have both already put up career seasons for the club in combining for 22 goals already this year. Lancaster is one of the frontrunners for the USL Golden Boot with 13 goals after his hat trick against the New York Red Bulls II, but Ilic isn’t far behind with nine goals this season, including four goals in the club’s past four outings. Both players bring versatility to their roles, but what’s been impressive as both have taken the leap forward this season is how efficient both have been in taking their chances, with Ilic at remarkable 47.4 percent conversion rate and Lancaster not far behind at 25 percent.
Both Thomas Enevoldsen and Michael Seaton arrived in Orange County this offseason and have quickly become one of the most potent attacking partnerships in the league, currently sitting as the duo with the most combined goals (23) for any team in the USL this season. Enevoldsen’s all-around game has been on show for much of the year, keeping the Dane at the forefront of the USL Golden Boot race with 14 goals while adding eight assists, but Seaton has started to show recently why he was such a highly regarded prospect when he signed as a Homegrown Player with D.C. United in 2013. Still only 21 years old, the realization of Seaton’s potential has been on show regularly this year.
Chris Cortez has been a mainstay in Phoenix since arriving from Orange County prior to the 2016 season, but this year he’s found another gear in part thanks to the influence of Ghanaian playmaker Solomon Asante. The duo have each recorded hat tricks this season, and have both already reached double-digit goals on the year to lead Phoenix to a top-four position in the Western Conference and within range of both a first home playoff game and potentially the most regular-season wins in the club’s history. At 6-foot-4, Cortez brings much more than a regular target man with four left-footed goals, four right-footed goals and three headed goals this season, while the 5-foot-2 Asante has shown tremendous ability to find the net and create for others, leading the league with 75 chances created in 2018.
Chandler Hoffman and Sebastian Velasquez haven’t quite hit the same heights in 2018 as they did when they were picking up USL All-League First Team honors for the 2017 USL Regular Season champion Real Monarchs SLC, but the threat the duo still possess has been on regular show as Real remains a strong contender to defend its regular-season crown as well as lift the USL Cup at the end of the season. With 40 goals combined since the start of the 2017 season, the experienced duo has added incentive to claim silverware together again before the end of the season before Hoffman makes his offseason move to Birmingham Legion FC, where he was recently unveiled as the first signing in the 2019 USL expansion club’s history.