Four players from the NPSL’s Sunshine Conference are now headed to the professional ranks, signing contracts with clubs all over the world.
Kyle Nasta, a recent standout with the Jacksonville Armada U-23 squad, stayed close to home with a move to the Armada’s first team in the NASL. It’s a very exciting time for a young goalkeeper with roots in the NPSL.
“I started NPSL three years ago,” Nasta said. “It was something I did over the summer, just to stay in shape for college. It is a good league with quality players. Being able to play on that team and show the coaches what I had to offer was the only way that I was able to get noticed. I really have to thank the NPSL for being here so that I could have the opportunity to get where I am now.”
Nasta, a 6-foot native of Jacksonville, made six starts for the U-23s this season, finishing with a 1.17 GAA and helping lead his side to a second-place finish in the Sunshine Conference in 2016.
He has many admirers, including Armada FC U-23 Head Coach Pat Cannon.
“Kyle is a fantastic ’keeper, simple as that. He has some of the best shot-stopping abilities I’ve ever seen. This team (Armada U-23) was be a spring board for him to continue his playing career into the professional ranks.”
Armada fans and supporters should feel good about Nasta, who has been a star at every stop, including the University of North Florida.
In four years at UNF, Nasta became the most decorated goalkeeper in school history. The 2014 ASUN Goalkeeper of the Year was a two-time NSCAA All-Region selection and received the ASUN All-Conference nod as a junior and senior. He is the career leader in wins (18), saves (150) shutouts (10). He owns single season records for wins (10 in 2015) and goals against average (1.10 in 2014).
Jay Bolt, a teammate of Nasta in both college and the NPSL, described the keeper’s playing style as calm, composed, and dominant.
“Nasta was a quiet guy most of the time, always seemed composed and nothing phased him. I remember there would be practices where it would be impossible to score on him. He would just enter a zone when he was out there, wouldn’t say much and more importantly wouldn’t let you score.”
UNF men’s soccer head coach Derek Marinatos had more of the same to say about Nasta.
“Kyle grew so much as a goalkeeper in his time at North Florida. He deservedly became the most decorated goalkeeper in the program’s history. Kyle was a quiet leader that grew into one of the best shot stoppers I have ever coached. He was consistently making not just the good save, but the amazing save in training and games. I am thrilled that he gets an opportunity to be a professional goalkeeper knowing as he finished his career at North Florida that he deserved an opportunity to play at the next level.”
Nasta now has that opportunity as he seeks to make a name for himself with the Armada and throughout the entire NASL.
Three Miami United FC players decided on a different path, signing pro contracts with clubs outside of the United States. Forward Luz Rodriguez Hernandez, midfielder Diego Da Costa Lima, and winger Noah Sadoui have signed with teams in Venezuela, Moldova, and Oman respectively.
Hernandez has signed with Estudiantes de Mérida of the Venezuelan Primera División, while Lima is headed to FC Zimbru Chișinău of the Divizia Națională, the top division in Moldovan football. Sadoui has made the furthest journey, traveling over 8,000 miles to the Al-Khaburah Soccer Club, a team that is currently playing in the Oman Professional League, the top division of football in Oman.
The trio of signings was great news for Miami United owner Roberto Sacca.
“This is the right way to see football, the finish line of all the hard work to see guys reach the goal they were looking for and have been present in the most important moment of their career: the jump to ‘professionalism.’ This league is perhaps one of the most important in the American football pyramid and serves as a springboard for young talent or better as a key to open the door to U.S. and European soccer. That’s our philosophy.”
Miami United head coach Ricardo David Paez, who earned 64 caps with the Venezuela National Team, also showed excitement for his players. He is confident that they will do great things in the professional ranks.
“Rodriguez was an excellent player with a lot of speed and a great condition to finishing and scoring goals. Lima is a very technical player with a great free kick. Noah is a skillful player with a lot of ability in 1v1 situations. They have the skills to play in any league at the top level. For Miami United this is a step forward besides conference champions this year. The team show that players could go to first division leagues outside the U.S. and that shows the great achievement this year.”
Rodriguez proved to be one of Miami’s biggest playmakers of 2016, scoring six goals in seven games. Lima recently played with Boavista F.C. in Primeira Liga. Sadoui spent time in Israel with Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Kfar Saba, and Hapoel Nazareth Illit before heading to South Africa to sign with Ajax Cape Town.
The NPSL continues to build a strong reputation as a “pipeline to the pros” and this group shows the league’s reach is literally worldwide. NPSL players have found their way all over the world, including pro leagues in Sweden, Honduras, Slovenia, Iceland, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Armenia, Canada, Wales, Brazil, England, Poland, Finland, Germany, Jamaica, and Guatemala to name just a few. Now we can add Venezuela, Moldova, and Oman to that ever-growing list.