[USL PRO] The 2012 USL PRO season begins Saturday when the expansion Phoenix FC Wolves travel to the Los Angeles Blues. The opener comes two weeks before the majority of clubs in the 13-team league begin play. Four teams have agreements with MLS clubs to bring in players on loan. Other players with MLS like Jhonny Arteaga, Freddie Braun, Blake Brettschneiderand Michael Seamon have moved to USL PRO clubs, while 2012 all-league picks Josh Rife and Matt Luzunaris have changed teams. For a look at a dozen key offseason moves ...
JHONNY ARTEAGA (Pittsburgh).The Colombian-born forward played five games for MLS's New York Red Bulls in 2012 after joining the team from FC New York, where he was the USL PRO scoring champion in 2011 with 13 goals in 21 games. Arteaga, who signed a two-year contract, is one of several players the Riverhounds brought to upgrade their roster as they move into their new soccer stadium, Highmark Stadium.
FREDDIE BRAUN (Orlando City).Braun spent two seasons with the Portland Timbers in MLS after moving up from the Timbers U-23s, where he won the PDL title in 2010. The 24-year-old midfielder had impressed the Orlando City coaching staff during the Disney Pro Soccer Classic against MLS clubs.
BLAKE BRETTSCHNEIDER (Rochester).The former University of South Carolina star played 32 MLS games in two seasons with D.C. United and New England. Rhinos head coach Jesse Myers is high on Brettschneider, who is still only 23. “He’s an athletic forward who has a nose for the goal," he said. "I’ve had the chance to talk to our MLS affiliate, the New England Revolution, about him as well as some other teams in Major League Soccer. The unanimous opinion is that he’s going to be a star player in our league.”
TONY DONATELLI (VSI Tampa Bay FC).Donatelli is a veteran of the U.S. minor leagues, having spent time with Vancouver, Montreal, Rochester and Charleston, as well as stints indoors. He helped Vancouver (2006) and Montreal (2009) win USL Division One titles.
DOM DWYER (Orlando City).Dwyer returns to Florida, where he played one college season at USF, as one of four players loaned by Sporting Kansas City. The Englishman had originally come to the United States to play for Tyler Junior College. His first MLS game for Sporting KC came in a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference finals.
MATT GOLD (Charlotte).After spending the 2011 season in MLS with Toronto FC and 2012 with his hometown San Antonio Scorpions in the NASL, the 24-year-old Gold has joined the Eagles. “Matt is a perfect fit for our organization," said GM Tom Engstrom.
ALEX LEE (Richmond). The former University of Maryland star joined the Kickers after a season with MLS's FC Dallas, where he did not play a league game. He has been the first pick in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft for FC Dallas.
MATT LUZUNARIS (Rochester).Luzunaris was picked up as a free agent from Orlando City, where he was third in the league in nine goals and fifth in scoring in points with 20 in 2012. The 24-year-old forward played one season at UCF before turning pro and moving to Austria, where he played three season. He joined Orlando City in 2011 on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes after playing six MLS games.
DARREN MACKIE (Phoenix FC).The Scotsman was unveiled as the first Wolves' signing in September and was training with Aberdeen to stay fit until he and family moved to Arizona in February. The 31-year-old forward played more than 300 league games for Aberdeen in his 14 years with the Dons. His career included nine matches with Aberdeen in the UEFA Cup.
JOSH RIFE (VSI Tampa Bay FC). Rife has bounced back and forth between the indoor MISL and USL PRO, where he was a first-team all-league selection with Charlotte last season. "It's great to bring Josh into the team in our inaugural season," said Tampa Bay's director of soccer, Clay Roberts. "He is a proven leader, established veteran, and great person to have in any capacity of an organization."
MICHAEL SEAMON (Pittsburgh).The 24-year-old midfielder spent three seasons with MLS's Seattle Sounders, making nine league appearances. He had also played for the Sounders in their 2010 and 2011 U.S. Open Cup championship campaigns and in Concacaf Champions League play.
CASEY TOWNSEND (Richmond). Townsend is the most experienced of the four players D.C. United loaned to the Kickers as part of their affiliation agreement. He played in 17 games (10 starts) during his rookie year with Chivas USA, logging a goal and two assists.