With the USL League Two season only days away, it's time to get familiar with the stars that will be competing in the league in 2023. Three NCAA Division I All-Americans, several former professionals and 14 2022 All-Conference selections will make their way back to the pitch in 2023.
The University of Kentucky goalkeeper was a United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American at the NCAA Division I level. He finished last season with 28 saves in 16 starts, allowing only 12 goals in that time for a 0.76 goals against average. The 20-year-old Dane comes from the SönderjyskE system in Denmark, where former San Antonio FC player Jose Gallegos now plays. Mols will be expected to make a big impact in Tucson's return to League Two.
The Seattle native and 2022 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year is set to help secure what's shaping up to be a strong Ballard defense. Playing for Penn in the 2022 NCAA season, Burney contributed five goals and two assists, including winners at Yale and Cornell. Ballard will expect to be a contender in 2023, and it comes down to players like Burney to make that happen.
Speel is the only First Team All-League selection from 2022 to return to their USL League Two club in 2023. Speel anchored a dominant Long Island club that charged their way to the Playoff Final on great contributions from Speel. With Matthew Vowinkel now in USL League One, and Jared Gilbey now in Denmark's third tier, Speel and the returning Ryan Carmichael will play key roles for the Rough Riders.
With over 90 pro appearances before the age of 21, Danny Robles is expected to be a day one contributor at Interbay Stadium. The attacking midfielder is a Washington native, and had five appearances for the United States National Team at the U17 level. After three years with Tacoma Defiance and a season with Northern Colorado Hailstorm in USL League One, Robles now joins the growing project in Ballard, where he'll be expected to be a star.
A native of Middlesbrough, England, Hughes has spent time in the academies of Middlesbrough, Manchester United and Leeds United before taking his journey to the United States. Hughes inked a professional deal with Leeds in 2021, and now attends Boston College. The left-sided midfielder or winger will be looking to make an instant impact for what was a very defensive team in 2022.
Krewe's star striker is back for another season after leading the line for them in 2022. He finished the season with nine goals, earning his place on the All-Southern Conference team, as well as a spot on the May Team of the Month for scoring five goals in his first three matches. Krewe will be asking Weston to build on that in the 2023 season.
An All-Central Conference defender in 2022, Kori Cupid has already made an appearance this season for Des Moines Menace, in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. He'll return to a back line that was productive all of last season on a near-perfect Menace team that fell on penalties to rival Flint City Bucks. He'll be asked to be an anchor for them if they have the same aspirations in 2023.
The star goal scorer for Real Central New Jersey in 2022 has made his way out west. Our third and final United Soccer Coaches NCAA DI All-American, again out of Penn, will be asked to fill up the scoresheet in Seattle this year. He scored multiple brilliant goals for Central New Jersey last summer, and followed that up with 11 goals and 7 assists in the NCAA season.
The second All-Central Conference player to return in 2023, Abrahamsson was a critical piece to Fort Wayne's playoff push in 2022. His laser free kick was one of the best goals of the season, and he'll be looking to keep making an impact this season. As owner Damarcus Beasley celebrates his induction into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame, Fort Wayne will also be looking to step forward with Abrahamsson leading them.