Signing News for USL PRO Club Teams for the week of 2/11/11
USL PRO clubs have recently announced several signings of players for the 2011 season.
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds announced that 2010 starting goalkeeper Hunter Gilstrap will be returning, while the USL-2 champion Charleston Battery have re-signed three players from their trophy-lifting 2010 squad: Defender Colin Falvey, midfielder Zach Prince and goalkeeper Keith Wiggans. Earlier, the Wilmington Hammerheads announced the signing of English midfielder Paul Nicholson. Meanwhile, former Harrisburg City Islanders goalkeeper Tomer Chencinski will test his fortunes in Finland in 2011, signing with club VPS.
Gilstrap, who turns 28 in April, was an important cog in the Riverhounds’ sound defense in 2010. The Pittsburgh club allowed the fewest goals in USL-2 play, and Gilstrap led the league in games and minutes played while keeping six clean sheets in 18 matches. The former Clemson Tiger has been playing professionally since 2006 with Miami FC and the Cleveland City Stars before joining the Riverhounds last season. Gilstrap spent time in the North American off-season in 2008-2009 making 11 appearances in goal for Maritzburg United FC, a club in the South African Premiership. During this past off-season, the goalkeeper was involved with the Riverhounds Academy. Gilstrap signed a two-year contract with Pittsburgh.
In Charleston, Battery head man Michael Anhaeuser is all smiles as the club signed three players from their 2010 squad. “Getting Colin, Keith and Zach for the 2011 season is very important as all three players were with us last season during our championship run. Colin and Keith bring back our experience and understanding and Zach will look to build on his rookie season performances. It is great to get all three back as the 2011 squad starts to take shape.”
Falvey is a 25-year-old Irish defender who has played professionally in his native country and New Zealand before coming to USL. The 6’1″ backliner played 20 games in his Charleston debut last year. Prince, 22, played for the Colorado Rapids U-23 and Chicago Fire Premier team in the PDL before joining the Battery last season, playing 15 games in midfield. Keith Wiggans has been with the Battery since 2005, mainly as a backup to long-time Battery goalkeeper Dusty Hudock. Before turning pro, both Wiggans and Prince played at the College of Charleston, where Wiggans also works as an assistant coach.
The Wilmington Hammerheads, established in 1996, are back in business after being on hiatus for the 2010 season, and recently added English midfielder Paul Nicholson to their roster. Nicholson was an NAIA All-American at Ohio’s Rio Grande University in 2008 and was the only NAIA player invited to the 2009 MLS Combine. His college coach, Scott Morrissey, stated that Nicholson’s play had attracted the attention of Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. Nicholson has been an assistant coach at Rio Grande in 2009 and 2010, and was named 2010 club MVP for the MPS Portland Phoenix of the PDL, not missing a minute of action for the Phoenix. In 2009, Nicholson played for the PDL’s West Virginia Chaos.
Former City Islander Signs with Finnish Team
Tomer Chencinski, a goalkeeper last season with the USL-2 Harrisburg City Islanders, announced that he has signed a contract with Finnish team Vaasan Palloseura for their 2011 season, which begins in April. Chencinski, 26, was born in Tel Aviv, and is a Canadian citizen who joined the City Islanders in 2010 after stints with Toronto FC, the MISL, the PDL and professionally in Moldova. The Canadian shared time between the posts for the City Islanders last season with former NY Red Bulls goalkeeper Danny Cepero, with Chencinski playing in nine games. The goalkeeper also spent time working with the Philadelphia Union late last season after the Islanders’ season ended. Chencinski will have an opportunity to claim the #1 goalkeeping spot for VPS, who play in the top-tier Finnish Premier League.
Finland has become a destination for several North American players, as Chencinski will have Americans Brian Pope and Greg Eckhardt as VPS teammates. Already in Finland, the goalkeeper had the class to express his fondness for City Islanders’ fans and his gratitude to the Islanders’ organization in an interview with Derek Meluzio of Pennlive.com.