NASL News: Scorpions Sign Jeff Cunningham, and More Transfer News
With the NASL season headed into its final third and all eight clubs showing signs that they deserve a playoff spot, several clubs have added players to strengthen their rosters for the stretch run. The expansion San Antonio Scorpions, the new NASL club that holds down first place in the league standings, have added to their veteran roster by announcing the signing of MLS all-time leading goal-scorer Jeff Cunningham. The man from Montego Bay scored 134 goals in 14 MLS seasons. Meanwhile, FC Edmonton have announced the extension of head coach Harry Sinkgraven and assistant Hans Schrijver while adding Scottish player David Proctor. The Carolina RailHawks have added back Floyd Franks from MLS while sending defender Richard Nurse to the Islanders. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers have brought back talented attacker Paulo Jr on loan from Real Salt Lake, while the Atlanta Silverbacks added two new players.
Cunningham, 35, has been playing most recently for Guatemalan club CSD Comunicaciones. The 5’8″ forward began his professional career with the Columbus Crew after playing his college ball at the University of South Florida. Cunningham has also worn the shirts of the Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC and FC Dallas during his career that began in 1998. Cunningham has been named to the MLS Best XI three times and won the league’s Golden Boot award twice, and was a member of the 2002 Crew squad that won the U.S. Open Cup. He became a U.S. citizen in 2001 and also has earned 14 international caps for the USMNT.
Scorpions President Michael Hitchcock commented on the club’s acquisition of Cunningham. “I have seen firsthand what Jeff Cunningham can do in Major League Soccer and I am thrilled to have him join us here in San Antonio. Having a player of his caliber and professionalism will help us a great deal in our push for the playoffs. As the leading goal scorer in MLS history, Jeff has had a very successful career so far and we can’t wait to see him continue that career as a Scorpion and score goals like he has done throughout his career.”
Scorpions head coach Tim Hankinson added, “We were very fortunate to find a player that has performed at an all-star level in MLS and eventually became the all-time leading goal scorer in the league at this point in our season. He is a great addition, someone who will help us reach our goal of winning a championship for San Antonio.”
Cunningham scored four goals in 12 matches for Comunicaciones during their 2012 Clausura campaign.
FC Edmonton Extend Head Coach Sinkgraven, Bring in David Proctor from Scotland
FC Edmonton announced that coach Harry Sinkgraven, along with assistant Hans Schrijver, have had their contracts extended through the 2013 season. Both natives of the Netherlands, Sinkgraven has piloted the Eddies through their first two NASL seasons, while Schrijver returned to the club earlier this season as an assistant.
“I signed because I really like it here and the franchise and the club is growing so I see a lot of potential in this club,” Sinkgraven said. “We have a good owner who really wants to build something here. It’s nice to be a part of a growing franchise from the beginning.”
In other Edmonton news, the club announced the signing of versatile Scottish player David Proctor. The 28-year-old has played his entire career in Scotland, mainly in two stints for Inverness Caledonian Thistle. The 6-footer began his career in 2003 after playing in Edinburgh’s Hibernian youth system. He has played in over 110 matches in all competitions and has featured at right back, central defense and in midfield.
Nurse Returns to Islanders, Franks Returns to Carolina
Veteran defender Chris Nurse has been transferred back to the Puerto Rico Islanders from his current Carolina RailHawks club. The London-born Guyanese international played the 2010 season with the Islanders before joining the RailHawks for the 2011 season. He has played in 44 D2 matches over the last two and a half seasons, along with representing Guyana on 13 occasions.
Meanwhile, RailHawks veteran Floyd Franks is returning to the club from the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps. Franks returns to the club on a multi-year deal after starting 51 matches for the RailHawks during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Franks, 28, is a native of Alabama who played college ball at UNC-Charlotte before turning professional in 2006 with the Chicago Fire.
“It’s exciting to add a player of Floyd’s ability to the team at this point in the season,” said RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke. “Floyd is a very versatile player who can play across the midfield and on the back line. His familiarity with the club and his time with us in preseason, we expect for him to settle in nicely.”
Strikers Obtain Paulo Jr, Extend Restrepo Contract
The Fort Lauderdale Strikers, who currently hold the NASL’s final playoff position with nine league matches to play, have acquired Paulo Araujo Jr. on loan from Real Salt Lake. Paulo Jr, 23, starred for the club in 2010 when it was known as the FC Miami, before signing with RSL. The Brazilian has played in 28 matches for the MLS side, scoring three times, since he joined the club in September, 2010.
“I think having Paulo here is an exciting situation for both us and Real Salt Lake,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. “I know he’s looking forward to help our team get results and score goals. At the same time it’s a good situation for Real Salt Lake to have a player get some confidence back and get quality minutes for us.”
The Strikers also announced that midfielder Walter Restrepo has signed a contract extension through 2013, with a club option for the following season. Restrepo, in his second season with the Strikers, has scored five goals and is tied with the Rowdies’ Mike Ambersley for the NASL lead in assists with six each.
Silverbacks Add Two More Players
The Atlanta Silverbacks, revitalized under interim coach Eric Wynalda, last week added defender Alberto ‘Beto’ Navarro and midfielder Horace James. Navarro is a 23-year-old Californian who was part of Wynalda’s Cinderella Cal FC side that surprised people with their US Open Cup success. Navarro has more recently been playing with PDL side Fresno Fuego and has trained with the LA Galaxy. James, 27, has played in his home country’s Jamaican Premier League. He arrives in Atlanta from Montego Bay United and has had a recent trial with Sporting Kansas City of MLS.