Bethlehem Steel FC announced offseason roster moves on Monday, with maybe the most notable that attacking midfielder Santi Moar would not return to the side for a third season. The 25-year-old Spaniard was a bright performer for Bethlehem over the past two seasons, helping the club reach the USL Cup Playoffs in both 2017 and 2018, but with the possibility of signing with the Philadelphia Union apparently not on the cards, Moar will have a new home in 2019.
Given his performance for Steel FC over the past two seasons, though, there should be no shortage of suitors should Moar elect to join another USL club. Having recorded 12 goals and 15 assists, Moar has also put up positive attacking numbers in other areas, sitting second in the league in completed dribbles with 117 over the past two seasons while registering 87 chances created – 76 of which came from open play, tied for 10th in that category – and 16 Big Chances created according to Opta.
Here are five clubs that could be a fit for Moar in the 2019 USL Championship season.
Nashville SC has already announced a strong returning contingent of players for the 2019 season but with NSC’s propensity for attacking wide play under Head Coach Gary Smith there could be a place for Moar to bring his dynamism into play. The Spaniard would certainly seem to complement the already-present Alan Winn and the addition of Daniel Rios to the club's front line on loan from Nashville MLS to go with forwards Tucker Hume and Ropapa Mensah would offer solid targets in the same vein as former Bethlehem forward Cory Burke. Nashville recorded the fourth-most crosses from open play with 504 in the 2018 USL Championship season, but only recorded 270 chances created, an area Moar could have a positive impact in for the side.
North Carolina FC was another side that looked to get into good wide positions to provide service from open play in the 2018 season, but the side’s passing and movement under former Head Coach Colin Clarke was the primary catalyst for the creation of those chances rather than having an individual threat to take on opponents. In fact, North Carolina registered the fewest attempted dribbles in the league in 2018 with 396 – an average of 11.6 per game – and finished with the third-fewest completed dribbles with 231. While the side has yet to appoint a new Head Coach this offseason, bringing in someone like Moar to offer a good one-on-one threat that could add some individual flair would give the new appointment a valuable weapon in the attacking third.
On the flipside to North Carolina, there aren’t many teams that have enjoyed giving players the freedom to take on opponents than Reno 1868 FC, which logged the seventh-most dribbles attempted as a team in the 2018 USL Championship season and finished fourth in dribbles completed and success rate with 384 at a rate of 54.08 percent. Putting someone with Moar’s speed potentially into a mix with players like Brian Brown and Antoine Hoppenot would allow Reno’s dynamism in the attacking third to continue and offer Moar a potential avenue to Major League Soccer as 1868 FC partner the San Jose Earthquakes begin their new era under Head Coach Matias Almeyda.
Of the teams to reach the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs, only four teams scored fewer goals to get there than Sacramento Republic FC. That was illustrative of the side’s Western Conference-best defense, but it also proved to be an Achilles heel when the postseason ended early after the club's elimination in the Western Conference Quarterfinals despite Republic FC being the No. 2 seed. A player like Moar could definitely help, and it seems as though he’d be a good fit in an attack that saw Republic FC playmaker Villyan Bijev put up remarkably similar overall numbers in the 2018 campaign. Adding Moar to the flank could allow Bijev to move into a more central attacking role underneath forward Cameron Iwasa, and Moar’s ability to take on and provide service from the flank could help Sacramento gain more consistency in front of goal in 2019.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies were the most cross-happy side of any team in the USL Championship in 2018 with 567 crosses from open play. Even after the club appointed Neill Collins as its new Head Coach on May 18, those numbers didn’t drop much as the side ranked third in the league from that date until the end of the USL Cup Playoffs with 416 crosses attempted from open play. If Collins is looking to maintain that style as he retools his squad for the 2019 campaign, bringing in Moar to provide width and an eye for goal could be a very good move to boost an attack that finished 13th in the league in chances created from open play (295) but only 25th in shot conversion rate (12.54 percent).