Merry League…One…mas (eh)? Name isn’t important. It’s just a great time for fans to get ready for the new season, prep to be loud and proud at next season’s games, and make cookies in the shape of your favorite team’s logo! The schedule is HERE. It’s four months until the new season and all through the league, not a team has finished their roster, not even the Red Wolves. So let’s take a look at each team’s needs from goals, to humans, to midfield solidity. So here we go, 11 day of League One-mas (still don’t like it, but fans can workshop something better later)!
On the first day of league one-mas, Central Valley Fuego FC really need: A human
A soccer player – like, anyone. If they have a warm body on their roster by the new year, we’ll call that a HUGE dub.
On the second day of League One-mas, Charlotte Independence really need: a chance at Rebuild FC
Any time a team ends up dropping down a league, you can expect a lot of turnover to happen. As to how much, we’re yet to find out. Moving to the USL L1 was not under the best circumstances with off the field issues (racism, conspiracy theories, and no money, OH MY! All of this has been regularly reported on and can be found by simply typing “Charlotte independence” into the news section of google) plaguing the organization, and their fans definitely deserve better. The supporters groups in Charlotte have been working hard to fight for their team, so hopefully we’ll see some good come out of all of this. It’s likely to be a full or at least extensive rebuild, so adding some reliable players who know League One to the roster would be smart. We’ll see what happens and even under confusing and shrouded circumstances, a big team is joining the league.
On the third day of League One-mas, Chattanooga Red Wolves really need: To Solve the Striker Situation
Chattanooga has got a lot of really good depth across the field, but one area that they really struggled in was the “striker” position. Now at the risk of framing Obleda into a L1 Guardiola, they NEED to make a striker decision: Are they going to sign another striker or are they going to start Galindrez more? Because they need a striker who can start and affect the game for them week in and week out (*Obleda proceeds to start Villalobos up top and Galindrez on the wing and somehow it works*). Some of their options this season didn’t strike a ton of fear in opposing defenses, and that needs to change. Juan Galindrez was an incredible super sub, scoring 9 of his 11 goals from substitute appearances. He’s absolutely a proven goal scorer, but wasn’t involved in the build up nearly as much as his counterparts. Will Galindrez be their man this season or will he continue to play the ever important role of last second day-spoiler? It really depends on what else Obleda expects from his starting man and if Galindrez can make it happen. Either way, you can expect him to be heavily involved in his team’s success. Hopefully we’ll find out soon.
On the fourth day of League One-mas, Forward Madison really need: Offensive Efficiency
Forward Madison was a curious case of underperformance this season. Shooting many more times per game than average in the league while simultaneously having the joint lowest goal tally (I don’t include own goals in offensive performance numbers, but second lowest if you’d like to include them), is a big problem. Glaeser is coming in to work on a big task and his ability to get this team firing will be the main factor in their success. They just lost their leading scorer/assist leader to a return to Greenville, so they need someone who can get good looks in front of goal and QUICK. Glaeser is putting together a good squad but will need someone who can inspire confidence in their offensive production this season. They didn’t do THAT bad on defense, but when they did go behind, there wasn’t that much confidence on getting back in. The good news is that Glaeser’s philosophy seems very attacking, citing Carlos Carvalhal as one of his inspirations. Carvalhal has been previously quoted saying “Clean sheet? We don’t use this word in Portugal. It does not make sense to me. I want my teams not to let in goals but between 1-0 and 5-4, I prefer 5-4 because I love football.” If this is any part of Glaeser’s philosophy (this is pretty funny when thinking about Glaeser, the former goalkeeper), Madison has a much better chance of doing well in League One next season. Score more and their decent defense will feel a lot less pressure. More goals, more wins, more vibes=more jerseys, I think.
On the fifth day of League One-mas, Greenville Triumph really need: Goals, Goals, and more Goals
Just like Madison, my beloved Triumph is in need of some help on the offensive side of the ball. This season, there were not many teams who struggled in front of goal more than Greenville. One of the worst teams when comparing the number of goals scored to their expected goals (third worst in the league), Greenville would have been (and they were at some points this season) caught up a creek without a paddle if it hadn’t been for Marios Lomis (scored or assisted 42% of all goals last season). Teams like Greenville, who are expecting to challenge for the title, can’t stay on top if they continue to under perform offensively. The signings of Coutinho and Keegan are positive declarations of intent, but Greenville will likely be hoping to add one or two more goal scorers to the squad. They’ll also be hoping that Gavilanes and Brown can add some more goals from the wings this season and they probably will. Even so, it’s hard to see improvement upon last season without one or two more goal scorers. Greenville’s defense will likely be stout as always, but the mantra “defense wins championships” is only true in so far as you can reliably take the lead, which wasn’t always a sure bet last season. Even so, John Harkes has shown he can get the absolute best out of the players he has, so it’s gonna be a good year!
On the sixth day of League One-mas, North Carolina FC really need: Midfield Solidity
This season, no defense faced more shots than NCFC. They were run ragged, always being forced into clearances, blocks, and last minute tackles. When you concede 50 goals in a season, you assume that your defense was poor… right? Well, that’s not really the case for NCFC. In fact, it was no easier to score on NCFC than it was to score on Greenville. They actually lost the ball fewer times per game than almost anyone in the league. The difference? The path of least resistance at NCFC led straight to their goal. You could practically walk up to their back line at times, which put so much pressure on a relatively young/new defensive core. They rode the storm well, but you can bet they won’t want to do that again. NCFC has already made some smart moves with the re-signing of Pecka and the acquisition of Sommersall, but I’d bet they bring in at least one more for good measure. Put people in front of that defense who can hold onto the ball and protect the back line well and I think NCFC will look a whole lot better than we thought they could.
On the Seventh day of League One-mas, Northern Colorado Hailstorm really need: MORE
I mean… a lot. And that’s no knock on them. They’ve made some statement signings in Rob Cornwall and Lachlan McLean, but fielding two players will get you disqualified from a match every time. That being said, If they keep signing the level of quality they have so far, expect a big season from the Snow boys.
On the eighth day of League One-mas, Richmond Kickers really need: An Ivan Magalhaes Replacement — if that’s even possible
Richmond’s defense was incredible this season with all of the pressure they were under, the only team facing more shots than them was NCFC and they held strong with the help of a TOTY goalkeeper in Fitzgerald who’s returning and a solid defense. One part of their defense was particularly stout and that was the man, the myth, the legend: Ivan Magalhaes. Ivan won 70% of his ground duels (62% ground + aerial) across the entire season, which is ridiculous, and swept up just about anything that came his way. His presence in the back line was so reassuring for a team that seeks to soak up pressure and he will be sorely missed. If they want to be successful in the same way they were next season, either the entire defense is going to need to do a lot of stepping up or they need a really solid replacement who can get close to replicating the work he did.
On the ninth day of League One-mas, Tormenta FC really need: Mayr-Falten Replacement
They declined options for A LOT of their players. With all of the turnover, it’s really hard to tell what they’ll need. It really depends on how they decide to set up next season, but they probably need a replacement for Mayr-Falten. Previously an attacking midfielder, he played as a “wingback” for much of the 2021 season to really good effect. Finding an offensive wing back who can affect play in the final third but defend as needed will be key moving forward if they plan to continue with a back 3. Falter was tied for 2nd with Jay Tee Kamara for Big Chances Created with 11 and was such an important part of Tormenta’s game plan. Replacing him will be essential to success in 2022.
On the tenth day of League One-mas, FC Tucson really need: Defenders Who Won’t Get In Trouble
Fc Tucson scored a ton of goals this season. They were such a threat going forward and their spot in the playoffs was deserved. The problem they faced was — dun dun dun— the consequences of their own actions. Their back line alone accrued 7 red cards this season with two more against forwards and it put them in so many bad positions. Their high flying offense was good enough to go far, but a lack of discipline will always keep you from getting where you want to go. The signing of Jacob Crull is already a step in the right direction, but they’ve got a few more spots to fill. Expect to see some squeaky clean card records among their new defensive signings. This season, don’t wear Christmas sweaters around Tucson fans — they’re probably sick of the color red.
On the eleventh day of League One-mas, Union Omaha really need: To Keep As Many Players from 2021 As Possible
2021 was a great year for Omaha, playing incredibly good team soccer and winning the title to boot. In my opinion, their strength was in their team cohesion and structure. They were completely unified in purpose and tactical understanding and it made them incredibly hard to play against. Even so, there were some stand out players that probably put a lot of teams on notice and they might just be on the move. They’ve already had some returnees, but they’ll definitely want to keep that winning feeling alive in 2022 and a lot of that will be down to their personnel. The loss of Jacob Crull will sting a bit, but there are some decent defenders available and we’ll likely see that hole get plugged either internally or externally very soon. How many players will Omaha keep? That’s yet to be seen, but keeping their best players will be a huge wish coming into 2022 to keep their dominance alive.
It’s gonna be a great season for the league with the two extra games and I could not be more excited to be in the thick of League One soccer. Enjoy League-One-Mas (still bad) and may all of our teams be awesome!