Greenville Triumph Goalkeeper Dallas Jaye
USL League One is set to return to play on April 10 after nearly five months off the pitch. With the season kickoff on the horizon, plenty of young players across the league are looking to prove themselves as professionals among the best talent across the nation.
Here are ten players who played in League Two to keep an eye on in the 2021 League One season (in alphabetical order by last name).
Union Omaha | Forward
A dynamic centre-forward, Conway is coming off of a successful collegiate career at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Conway was an essential piece of the attacking side for Ventura County Fusion in League Two in 2019, playing a total of 12 games and netting a team-high of nine goals and six assists. His attack-first mentality proved valuable for Union Omaha in 2020 as he appeared in all 16 games and was the team’s leading scorer, netting six goals during the season. Conway’s aggressive on-field play will serve as an advantage to Omaha as they prepare for the 2021 season.
FC Tucson | Midfieler
A Brighton, England native, Dennis returns to FC Tucson for the 2021 season after a stellar 2020 run that saw him lead his team in assists and rank third overall for assists in League One. Dennis also ranked second in League One in key passes per match and in the top ten in total dribbles completed, in addition to creating 36 chances, which was the joint-most in the league. Dennis joined FC Tucson ahead of the 2020 season by way of Tormenta FC after scoring three goals and adding four assists in 27 matches during his first professional season with the Statesboro club in 2019. The 25-year-old midfielder began his USL career with Tormenta FC 2 in 2018 appearing in 15 matches across two seasons. Dennis also played collegiately with Palm Beach Atlantic University, where he scored 15 goals and added nine assists in 33 matches. Dennis proves to be a key asset to the team out of the midfield as he adds momentum to Tucson’s offense.
Greenville Triumph | Defender
Fricke returns to Greenville Triumph after a successful 2020 season where he was voted the League One Defender of the Year. Appearing in 15 games during the regular season, Fricke’s positioning and willingness to sacrifice majorly aided Greenville’s defensive philosophy. The 28-year-old finished tied for the league-lead with 17 blocked shots, won 83 percent of his tackles, and led Triumph SC with 48 clearances as the side conceded a league-fewest 11 goals and 43 shots on target faced in 16 regular season games. A former standout in USL League Two for the Des Moines Menace, Fricke earned All-Central Conference honors in the 2017 season. Fricke has seized his opportunity in League One while helping drive success on the field for his side. Now he takes his place as one of the league’s most respected defenders.
Greenville Triumph | Goalkeeper
As the 2019 and 2020 Goalkeeper of the Year, Jaye has been an unstoppable force in goal for League One and is expected to continue to raise the bar for keepers in the league in the 2021 season. Jaye previously played three seasons with FC Tucson in its USL League Two days. The keeper has made major waves in League One posting a 0.69 goals-against average in the 2020 season to earn his second consecutive League One Golden Glove, and raised his save percentage to 74.4 percent as he recorded 32 saves in 16 games while marshalling the best defense in League One. Jaye’s shutout rate also rose from 2019 as he recorded nine clean sheets in 16 games, seeing him record shutouts in 56.3 percent of contests. In addition to his impressive runs in League One, the Guam international represented Guam in qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The keeper is a sure fire win for Greenville’s defense as they look to redeem their 2019 loss to North Texas in the League One Final.
*FC Tucson now plays in USL League One
South Georgia Tormenta FC | Midfielder
Italian midfielder Micalettto is preparing to enter his fourth season with Tormenta FC after putting up an impressive run in 2020 where he appeared in 15 matches scoring three goals over the course of the regular season. In 2019, Micaletto led Tormenta FC in goals scored with eight and also notched two assists, including the first assist in USL League One history. The Tormenta vet even played through the era of transition when Tormenta became a League One team after spending three years in USL’s League Two. Previous to his time in South Georgia, Micaletto played with Reading United in 2017 and was a major force in League Two. He continues to show his grit on the pitch in USL’s League One for Tormenta FC and should be a tough opponent to face this upcoming season.
Greenville Triumph | Midfielder
This Greenville Triumph forward is no stranger to League One play as Morrell recorded the first-ever goal in League One history in his time with Tormenta FC in 2019. His USL presence has remained consistent as Morrell has appeared for both VSI Tampa Bay and Orlando City B in League Two, Tormenta FC and Greenville Triumph in League One and the Tampa Bay Rowdies and St. Louis FC in the USL Championship. In 2020, Morrell showed out big for Triumph adding five goals and a team high of six assists over the course of the season to help Greenville take it all the way. Morrell’s 1v1 ability and creativity on the pitch will certainly allow Greenville Triumph to be a major offensive threat in the 2021 season.
Union Omaha | Goalkeeper
Nuhu joined Omaha’s inaugural squad in 2020 after spending the 2019 season with USL Championship club New York Red Bulls II. The Ghanaian footballer started his USL career with the Westchester Flames in USL League Two in 2016 where he recorded 25 saves over the course of nine games. In his most recent season with Union Omaha, Nuhu managed to save 32 shots on goal for a 71.1 percent saves success rate. The keeper's calm demeanor and consistency in goal should be a major component of Omaha’s defense this season.
Greenville Triumph | Midfielder
A stealthy midfielder, Pilato returns to Greenville Triumph for his second consecutive season after coming off a very successful 2020 season, which saw Greenville make an impressive League One run. In the 2020 season, Pilato added three goals and an unmatched defensive performance to drive Greenville to the title game. Previously, Pilato spent time with USL Championship’s Loudoun United in 2019 and USL League Two’s Treasure Coast Tritons in 2017. Heading into the 2021 season, Pilato will be one to watch out for as Greenville makes its run for another League One Final appearance.
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC | Defender
A former FC Golden State Force standout in League Two, Ruiz brings a dynamic defensive presence to Chattanooga for the 2021 season. The left back appeared in all but one match for the Red Wolves in the 2020 season and won 107 of 169 duels, which tied for most in the league, and made the second-most interceptions in the league with 38, while making 19 key passes and tallying two assists. The League One standout also was one of two Red Wolves players to earn the All-League Team honors. It goes without saying that Ruiz is a crucial piece of the Red Wolves squad for the upcoming season.
Union Omaha | Forward
This seventh generation soccer player is a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. The former Treasure Coast Tritons alum was a beast in League Two playing for the club for three consecutive seasons showing off his stellar offensive abilities throughout. Vanacore-Decker joined Omaha after one season with USL Championship’s Sporting KC II where he recorded three goals over the course of 13 starts. His impressive offensive run did not stop there as Vanacore-Decker showed up for Omaha in 2020 adding three goals and six assists. The creative forward is expected to ramp up his offensive pressure on the pitch this season.