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Championship Five – Free Agency Targets

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 12/16/18, 8:54AM EST

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Free agents with USL Championship pedigree, which clubs could add a major piece to the puzzle?

Offseason player movement is already in full swing and following the conclusion of Major League Soccer’s Waiver Draft on Wednesday we’ve put together a list of five free agents with strong resumes who could still find a home in the USL Championship.

We’ve also taken the liberty of speculating on a potential destination for them around the league. Places that could potentially be well-served by the addition of these five free-agent targets. 

Caleb Calvert

Previous History: No. 16, 2016 USL 20 Under 20
On the Field: 68 appearances, 10 goals, six assists
Potential Destination: Orange County SC

Calvert was named to the USL 20 Under 20’s inaugural edition after impressing on loan with the Charlotte Independence from the Colorado Rapids, but the past two seasons saw his progression falter a little bit. That led to his departure from the Rapids at the end of the 2018 campaign after making just one MLS appearance this year. Having only just turned 22 years old, though, there could be some very good value here for Orange County in bringing aboard the Southern California native, who was the youngest signing in Chivas USA history back in 2013 to add to its attacking options.

Amer Didic

Previous History: 2016 USL Championship All-League First Team
On the Field: 84 appearances, 6,809 minutes, 27 shutouts
Potential Destination: Ottawa Fury FC

One of the cornerstones of the Swope Park Rangers’ defense as it claimed the Western Conference Championship twice in its first two seasons, Didic on the face of it looks like a perfect fit for what Ottawa is building as an organization. A Canadian international who played previously for Head Coach Nikola Popovic with the Rangers, Didic’s range and passing ability out of the back that has seen him sport an 88.56 passing accuracy rate the past two seasons, would be a big plus to go alongside experienced veteran Nana Attakora at the heart of the Fury FC defense.

Dane Kelly

Previous History: 2017 USL Championship Most Valuable Player, 2017 USL Championship Golden Boot, 2014, 2015, 2017 USL Championship All-League Team
On the Field: 169 appearances, 72 goals, 10 assists
Potential Destination: Louisville City FC

With this week’s news that 2018 USL Championship Golden Boot-winner Cameron Lancaster wouldn’t be returning to the two-time defending USL Cup champion and the departure of Ilija Ilic to Indy Eleven, there might be no player more suited to step into the attacking gap left than the league’s all-time leading scorer. Kelly’s 72 goals – 68 in the regular season and four more in the USL Cup Playoffs – have been the standard everyone else has been chasing for the past two seasons. While the club added veteran forward Lucky Mkosana on Friday, the Jamaican international’s intuitive scoring ability in the penalty area could make an ideal fit for a side with the creative talent that is returning to LouCity for the new campaign.

Jake McGuire

On the Field: 46 appearances, 156 saves, 72.2 save percentage, 10 shutouts
Potential Destination: Tampa Bay Rowdies

McGuire is the lone player not to have received a league honor in this group of players, but the numbers he has put up over the past two seasons for Bethlehem Steel FC have been impressive and at just 24 years old, there should be more to come for the California native. That could be an appealing combination for the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who are currently without a goalkeeper on their official squad for the 2019 season. Bringing in McGuire to establish himself as a firm No. 1 for the new season could help the Rowdies form a solid defensive foundation going into the 2019 campaign.

Chris Wehan

Previous History: 2017 USL Championship Rookie of the Year, 2017 USL Championship All-League First Team
On the Field: 44 appearances, 12 goals, 15 assists
Potential Destination: New Mexico United

Wehan never quite got the opportunity he was hoping for in a tumultuous season for the San Jose Earthquakes, and while it might seem a logical move to return to Reno 1868 FC where he had a barnstorming rookie season, there’s also good reason to think that a return to another of his former stomping grounds would also make a lot of sense. A former standout for the University of New Mexico, Wehan would add to what is looking like an intriguing attack being built by Head Coach Troy Lesesne for United’s inaugural season that also includes recent signing Santi Moar and first signing Devon Sandoval.

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