On Monday afternoon, Sporting Kansas City announced the signing of Christian Volesky to an MLS contract.
Sporting KC had to burn a senior roster spot for Volesky, as he turns 25 during the 2017 MLS Season, underlining the faith they put in the Las Vegas native. The forward from Southern Illinois University was drafted by Portland Timbers after impressing during the 2015 MLS Combine.
He trained briefly with the Timbers, who retained his MLS rights, before settling in Rochester. Volesky was never the undisputed number one striker for the Rhinos during his two seasons but still managed to put up solid numbers while sharing the spotlight with Colin Rolfe and Steevan dos Santos.
While Volesky may end up getting playing time with SKC's USL side Swope Park Rangers, he's shown patience and a bit of versatility with the Rhinos. In 2015 Volesky competed with Rolfe, dos Santos, and Alex Dixon for minutes and during this past USL season Volesky saw a considerable amount of time on the left flank of a 4-3-3, adapting his role from the poacher in a two-striker system.
Volesky certainly has the personal drive to catch the eye of SKC head coach Peter Vermes in training and an incident against Richmond in 2016 illustrates the 24 year old's growth as an individual. During a home game against the Kickers in early August, Volesky did well to win a penalty for the Rhinos but surprised everyone but hitting an awful penalty attempt.
After the match, an emotional Volesky faced media with the golden opportunity to fire his side ahead in the match clearly weighing on him.
To his credit, Volesky took much of the responsibility for the team's result when he faced media after the final whistle. "I put a lot of that on my shoulders, I should have finished the penalty kick." Though he leads the team in scoring, Volesky was clearly upset not to finish against Richmond. "We've just got to win at home, to get all three points. This is a big game and to drop points is frustrating for me."
Lilley was very supportive of his forward Volesky in the light of the penalty miss. "He had a good game tonight. Yeah, I'm disappointed but to be fair it was one of his better games. I thought he held a lot of balls. His movement was good. And that's a tough center back pairing to cause problems for. Christian's got to put it behind him and we do as well. I hope he gets those chances every game because he'll score more than he'll miss."
As if Lilley was writing the script, Volesky did heat up after that night, scoring 4 goals in Rochester's final 9 games of the regular season after the disappointing result against Richmond.
While never fully holding the mantle of Rochester's number one forward, Volesky was able to steal headlines with his audacious tallies. Volesky rarely passed up an attempt to chip a goalkeeper during his two seasons in Rochester and showed quite the creative range of shots in that time.
Particularly noteworthy was Volesky's impeccable record against FC Montreal. The reserve side of the Montreal Impact felt the brunt of Volesky's ability as the cheeky forward scored a brace against the Quebecois side on three occasions; part of a total haul of 9 goals in 7 matches against FC Montreal.
Volesky is now what parents in Montreal use to scare children into eating their vegetables and going to bed on time.https://t.co/Ox5UTYlAKj— Brendan Doherty (@DohertySoccer) June 5, 2016
Volesky trained with Chicago Fire in February 2016, where he was listed as a midfielder, but ultimately returned to Rochester and improved on his previous season's numbers.
In 2015, Volesky scored 8 goals and added an assist in 25 league matches. This past season, however, Volesky appeared in all 30 USL games for the Rhinos, scoring 10 goals and assisting on three others. The ambitious forward missed the Championship run in 2015 with a concussion but notched an assist in Rochester's two playoff games in 2016. Volesky scored two goals in four U.S. Open Cup games for Rochester.
The departure of Volesky, whose two-year contract expired at the end of the season, along with Steevan dos Santos's move to Ottawa Fury SC means that Rochester will have big shoes to fill up top looking ahead of the 2017 campaign.
Congratulations on the move up to MLS, Christian. You will be missed in Rochester.