As interesting as it is to watch MLS teams bring in draft picks and other players on trial during preseason, imagine the intrigue of watching a team fill 16 roster spots instead of 6 or 7.
On Friday night, the Rochester Rhinos braved 20° temperatures and a frozen pitch to play Niagara University in its first match of preseason. Head coach Bob Lilley used the contest to test about a dozen players hoping to earn contracts.
Fabio Machado - The Leominster High School graduate was recently named one of the six best players passed over by MLS in the current draft class by Will Parchman for Top Drawer Soccer. Machado started 40 of 44 games over two seasons for Providence College, after playing one year at junior college and one year at Drexel University, scoring 9 goals and registering 10 assists. As our own Corey Major detailed in 2013, the New England Revolution were keeping tabs on Machado while he played for the club's PDL affiliate Real Boston Rams where he was the best player last summer.
Revs and Real Boston Rams have strong partnership
The Revs aren't just affiliated with the Rochester Rhinos; they also have a PDL relationship with the Real Boston Rams, and it is paying real dividends for the lower-division club.
Marcos Ugarte - Ugarte was a high school phenom for Providence Country Day and was named an All-New England Region Selection by NSCAA in 2011. The Rhode Island native played two years at Providence College, scoring 8 goals and notching 5 assists across 35 games (31 starts). At Michigan, Urgarte scored 3 goals and 5 assisted over 30 games, starting 21. He also featured with the Michigan Bucks of the PDL in 2013 and 2014.
Matheau Hall - The 27-year-old right back was a regular for the Los Angeles Blues over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Last year he split his time between Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL and USL PRO's Richmond Kickers but failed to nail down a starting spot at either team. The Virginia Beach native looks like the type of player head coach Bob Lilley favors but the team already has Pat McMahon returning as an experienced starter at the right back position.
Asani Samuels - The Jamaican-born forward was a four-year starter at Canisius College in Buffalo. The 6'5" striker scored 16 goals and 6 assists in 72 games for the Golden Griffins (59 starts). Samuels played the 2013 NPSL season with FC Buffalo. Samuels was the first player in school history to earn NSCAA All-Region honors three times. Asani Samuels would follow former FC Buffalo players Kendell McFayden, Josh Faga, and Mike Reidy to play for the Rhinos (Andy Tiedt, Nekabari Tor, and Brian Knapp also featured for a single U.S. Open Cup game in 2013).
Stavros Tsoulakos - The 27-year-old forward came through the academy at Greek powerhouse PAOK Saloniki before signing with 8 other teams in his native country. Tsoulakos has been playing the past couple seasons with Messiniakos FC in the lower levels of Greek football and would follow in the footsteps of compatriot Giorgois Kyriazis (2012-13) if he signed with Rochester.
Christian Volesky - The 6'1" forward was drafted by the Portland Timbers but didn't reach an agreement with the senior team or its USL reserve team. William Conwell of Stumptown Footy had the following the say about Volesky, "A skilled goalscorer in the Missouri Valley Conference, scoring 23 goals over the course of three years with the school, Volesky is known for his athleticism and had an impressive turnout at the 2015 player combine."
Tyler Arnone - The defensive midfielder attended the MLS Combine and was projected as a late second round or early third round pick. Arnone picked up nearly two dozen personal awards and accolades during his collegiate career and could be a leader on the field at the USL level. Bob Lilley struck gold with a relatively undersized option in defensive midfield with Tony Walls and 5'10" Arnone looks to follow in that mold.
Delmiro - The team's report from Friday night's preseason match referred to a defender by the name of Delmiro, a 26-year-old left back from Cape Verde. Delmiro Évora Nascimento moved from his native country to Portugal where he played for 4 teams in the lower leagues before moving to a team in Angola last year. The defender had the chance to play the full 90 minutes on Friday and he could be an exciting addition to an already solid Rochester defense.
Duba - Steevan Humberto Fortes Dos Santos, graciously nicknamed simply Duba, is a fellow Cape Verdean footballer who joins Rochester's camp from Progresso do Sambizanga in Angola alongside Delmiro. Duba is a center forward who spent two seasons playing with Ullensaker/Kisa IL of the Norwegian second division. The 25-year-old played 45 minutes on Friday and at 6'3" could provide some much-needed height to the Rhinos' attacking corps.