Yesterday afternoon, Our Club (from Our Town, I guess) made its second round of player announcements. This one has one headliner from Gary Smith’s Colorado Rapids days, and plenty of USL talent (check out the league’s writeup on the latest wave of signings).
The first native of Japan in MLS history (though he has never been capped by the Samurai Blue), Kimura has eight years of MLS experience from 2007 to 2014, and has spent the past three years in the NASL/USL with the Atlanta Silverbacks, Rayo OKC, and most recently the Tulsa Roughnecks. The Silverbacks have reorganized as an NPSL team after a season of ownership by the league itself, while Rayo OKC folded completely after just two seasons.
The 33-year old Kimura made 24 appearances for the Roughnecks this season with 22 starts, and was ninth on the team in minutes played with just shy of 2,000. He’s an outside defender playing primarily on the right side, and at one point was a decent offensive threat, though he had only one shot (and 19 total crosses) this season – it would appear that he’s going forward less as he gets up in years. He’s known for a high motor, but at least as used by the Roughnecks, that meant pretty much only in his own half last year.
Kimura was sixth on the team with 37 clearances, fourth with eight blocked shots, fifth with 44 intercepted passes, he had a 76.3% tackle success rate, and won 48.1% of aerial duels despite being a 5-9 guy (and on limited reps, too – though that’s what you’d expect from an outside back). The Roughnecks were No. 11 in the USL in fewest goals allowed despite their only all-USL player being a second-team forward, so Kimura was part of a decent enough defensive unit.
Kimura’s signing – taken in concert with GK Matt Pickens – probably indicates what we should expect from a lot of this roster: members of Gary Smith’s 2010 MLS Champion Rapids team who are now playing in USL (especially those out of contract, of course).
Washington is a two-way winger who plays primarily in defense but can also get some time in the midfield thanks to pace and work rate. As a bonus, he can play on either side: he can be a utility player to plug in at any of four spots, based on other signings (or three, assuming Kimura is the projected starter at right back).
The college soccer product (one year at Boston University, three at George Mason) was an MLS Draft pick of the Philadelphia Union, but has played with the Bethlehem Steel – Union’s USL affiliate – and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the past two years, his first two as a pro. This season, he played primarily in defense for the Riverhounds, with three shots all year (one on goal), and they had a pretty anemic offense overall en route to 33 goals in 32 games, while they gave up 42 markers.
He played the third-most minutes on the team, with 28 starts in 29 appearances over the season. He wasn’t one of the most-tested players on the team, with just 37.5 passes per 90 minutes played, and his passing accuracy numbers (including crosses, of which he booted 70) are just OK. It’s defensively that he separated himself: 91 clearances, a team-leading (by a huge margin) 96 passes intercepted, 51 tackles on a 66.7% success rate, and about 64% of duels won both overall and aerially, even though he’s another shorter guy at 5-10.
Whereas some of the older signings are potentially “USL only” guys who won’t be extended if MLS does indeed become a reality for the 2019 season, the potential is there for Washington to at least have a role long-term, at just 24 years old.
Cox is a goal-scorer, and one of the few NSC has announced so far (Robin Shroot being the other). The Canadian has spent the past two seasons playing with Orlando City B, and had a poor year in 2017 with just two goals and three assists for a team whose offense was pretty anemic – 37 goals was tied for No. 20 in the 30-team league. The 6-2, 180-pounder had a much better year in 2016, with 11 goals (eight of them coming from outside the box, all coming from the right foot) and again three assists.
Cox made only 17 appearances this year, which is probably part of the explanation for the decrease in his numbers – he played in 26 games the previous year. He’s a target strike with some pace as well, and is probably going to be used as a complement to Shroot’s more dribble-oriented style. Cox had 19 shots, 12 on target this year, and scored a goal with each foot. Playing time was apparently hard to come by (maybe by injury? nobody has mentioned it, but if it’s performance-related, not being able to crack into a bad lineup is worrisome).
Both of Cox’s goals last year came in the same game, and both came but breaking the back line of defense and firing across the keeper’s body (with the lefty strike a more impressive finish, though from an easier angle):
I would presume that a change of scenery and not playing for a bad team (their goalkeeper faced a ton of shots and was the only all-league honoree) could work wonders for his numbers.
Cochran is the second goalie announced by the team, and comes from OKC Energy. He was the No. 2 keeper for his team, but entered the lineup after an injury to starter Corey Laurendi and put up much better numbers.
For a team that gave up 41 goals in 32 (regular-season) games, he gave up seven tallies in 10 appearances, including three playoff games which naturally come against the better talent faced. He gave up just one goal in three playoff games, winning a 1-0 decision and a 1-1 draw (with a 4-1 victory in penalties, an impressive credit to a keeper), and losing a 0-0 draw to league runners-up Swope Park Rangers in a 7-6 penalty shootout.
The 26-year old Cochran is potentially a longer-term signing for the club, given the age at which keepers are in their prime being a bit later than field players, though I would suspect he begins the season behind Pickens.
Cochran had a 75.9% save percentage, had four clean sheets in 10 games, (which of course means he gave up seven in the other six games combined, still not half-bad), and cleared the ball from his box another 16 times. His team had zero all-USL players, but finished sixth in the Western Conference (before the nice playoff run that Cochran helped spearhead).
His distribution might have some room for improvement, with a 42.9% passing success rate and 29.5% on long passes. That means he missed on just one non-long pass, but given Pickens’s more impressive numbers (54.6/37.8), hopefully he can be a bit of a mentor and help the youngster come along.
More on signings as the news continues to roll in.