Spring has arrived and the 2014 soccer season has started. Earlier this year, five Austin Aztex players were chosen during the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and other Aztex alumni started their own bids for roster spots with a USL PRO or NASL club. Now that MLS and USL PRO have started their seasons, we take a look at how our Aztex alumni are doing.
Dillon Powers: Powers started and played 86 minutes as the center attacking midfielder for the Colorado Rapids (1-0-1) in a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers (0-1-2). Powers sent an over-the-top ball on what proved to be the deciding play of the game when his pass resulted in a penalty kick for the Rapids. Powers was not hampered by an injury he suffered in the season opener versus the New York Red Bulls, as he put in a strong performance and was named MSLsoccer.com’s Man of the Match. In addition MLS recognized Powers in the Team of the Week for Week 3.
Kekuta Manneh: Manneh began the season with a role as an offensive spark off of the bench. The strategy drew praise from Whitecaps teammate Jay Demerit.
“What Kekuta does, coming off the bench especially, he gives you pace and power,” explained defender Jay DeMerit. “The first time he gets the ball, he goes right at the defender. Being a defender myself, the last thing I want is a Kekuta Manneh coming at me in the 80th minute.”
This approach worked when Manneh scored his first goal of the season on March 16 to salvage a 1-1 draw for the Vancouver Whitecaps (1-0-2). To date, Manneh has played 60 minutes across all three matches and leads the Whitecaps in shots with six.
Kris Tyrpak: Tyrpak made his MLS debut opposite former Aztex teammate Kekuta Manneh in the final minutes of a 1-1 draw between Chivas USA (1-1-1) and the Whitecaps. In the following match, Tyrpak came on as a substitute and came up with his first career assist for Chivas USA’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss to FC Dallas. For his performance, Tyrpak was recognized as a candidate for Rookie of the Week by Soccer By Ives.
Blake Smith: Smith was subbed on for the final minutes for the Montreal Impact (0-3-0) as an added offensive weapon in each of their two previous matches. Through three weeks, Smith has played 38 minutes with one shot on goal.
Michael Lisch: Lisch has not appeared for the Houston Dynamo (2-0-0) to date.
Michael Kafari: Kafari joined USL PRO’s Charleston Battery, but did not see the field in the Battery’s 1-1 draw versus Orlando City.
Robbie Derschang: Derschang signed with USL PRO’s Harrisburg City Islanders. The Islanders begin their season at Wilmington on April 5.
Officially signed with @city_islanders happy to be here and excited to get the season underway. Have to thank the club for the opportunity
— RobbieDerschang (@RobbieDerschang) March 21, 2014
Max Gunderson: Gunderson joined the roster of USL PRO’s expansion franchise OKC Energy FC. OKC will begin their inaugural season versus the Orange County Blues on April 5.