U23s Sign first Seven Players
First seven players are all returners from the 2013 season
Orlando, Fla.- The Orlando City SC U23s coaching staff, led by Head Coach Paul Shaw, has put a strong emphasis on developing younger players and playing the Orlando way rather than getting the results. In order to develop players, the Lions must be able to retain them year after year to avoid starting from scratch each summer.
City’s U23 Premier Development League (PDL) side is set to return seven players from last year’s squad with lethal Striker Tyler Blackwood, Midfielder Paul Clowes; defenders Michael Millay, Ian Svantesson, Andrew Clare, and both goalkeepers Tomas Gomez and Cody Uzcategui, all coming back to the Lions.
Blackwood is set to dawn the purple and white for the U23 squad for the second time after a stellar first season with Lions last summer, one in which he recorded the second most goals in the league with 15. In consecutive seasons at University of Tampa, the England native was named Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year, SSC Offensive Player of the Year, and to the First-Team All-SSC during his sophomore and junior campaigns for the Spartans.
Fellow Englishman Paul Clowes is also set to rejoin the Lions for the 2014 campaign after completing his sophomore season with the Clemson Tigers. Through his first two seasons collegiately, the Cheshire native has made 37 starts while recording five assists. Before coming stateside, Clowes spent 12 years in the Manchester City camp, making his way to reserve team before the club decided not to renew his contract in 2012.
Two Orlando native defenders, Millay and Svantesson, return home for their second stint with OCSC PDL side. Millay appeared in 12 games during the 2013 campaign with the Lions before heading back to the University of Cincinnati for his senior season. Unfortunately for Millay, he suffered a torn ACL early into final year as a Bearcat. However, during his sophomore and junior seasons, Millay started 35 times along as a member of Cincy’s backline.
UAB center-back, Svantesson, is also set to join the Lions for his second go-around with City. After being named to the 2012 Conference USA All-Freshman team during his first campaign in Birmingham, the imposing defender became an every day starter for the Blazers in 2013. During his sophomore season, Svantesson was the team’s top-scoring defender with two goals and two assists, while being a member of UAB’s defense that recorded five shutouts.
University of Tampa’s towering defender, Andrew Clare, returns to Orlando City SC’s U23 squad for his second season with the Lions. The Spartan defender made 11 appearances for the U23s in 2013 and has also proved to be a durable defender for UT. Clare made 48 appearances in Tampa for the Spartans over the last three years. After his junior campaign, Clare was named to the All-Sunshine State Conference Second-Team.
Orlando City SC U23s also return both ‘keepers from a year ago. Gomez returns to the club for the 2014 campaign after making 11 starts between the pipes last summer for the Lions. The Georgetown goalkeeper followed up his successful sophomore season for the Hoyas with an even greater season as a junior. The Missouri native dropped his goals allowed average from 0.89 in 2012 to 0.44 in 2013. Through three years, Gomez has recorded 26 shutouts during his time in the nation’s capital.
Another Orlando native, Uzcategui, returns home for the second consecutive summer as he is once again set to dawn the purple and white kit after he became a mainstay in the net for the Memphis Tigers during his redshirt sophomore season. In 2013, Uzcategui compiled a record of 8-8-1 in the 17 matches he started, while setting career highs in saves (48) and shutouts (5).
The U23s third season is set to kickoff off on Wednesday, May 14, when Lions take on Jacksonville United FC of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The match is set to take place at the Seminole Soccer Complex with kickoff scheduled for 4:30 p.m.