Expansion 2020

NPSL ALUMS DOWN UNDER: A STORY OF SUCCESS IN THE PROS

NPSL alums have accomplished a great deal over the years.  They have gone on to the highest levels of the game both domestically and internationally.  

NPSL players have competed in all levels of the U.S. Soccer pyramid, including the United Soccer League (USL), North American Soccer League (NASL), and Major League Soccer (MLS) in addition to professional indoor leagues.  NPSL alumni have also competed in the UEFA Europa League, CONCACAF Gold Cup, Copa America Centenario, World Cup qualifying, and the FIFA World Cup.  NPSL players have also signed to play in 30 countries all over the globe.

Recently four NPSL standouts were given the opportunity to compete “down under” in the Australian professional leagues.  It has been quite an adventure for the quartet of Dylan Williams, Jalon Brown, Alec Faulkner, and Daniel Tesoro.

Stockade FC Standout Impresses in Australia

Dylan Williams, a Monroe, NY native, recently signed with Launceston City FC, which competes in the PS4 National Premier Leagues (NPL), the second division of Australian soccer.  He experienced immediate success, being named to the league’s Team of the Week in the very first week.  It was a special moment, seeing a new player make such an impact.

“It’s definitely an honor to be named to the Team of the Week and something I will be aiming for each and every fixture,” Williams commented. “I hold high standards to myself so I don’t necessarily see it as success but more of a step on the ladder for this season as I try to help my squad, build my resume, and get to the highest level possible.”

The early success for Williams should not be a surprise as the  Monroe-Woodbury HS graduate has experienced success at every stop of his career.  He was, after all, a two-time All-American at SUNY Oneonta and the SUNYAC Player of the Year in 2015.  He proved to be a dynamic player in the collegiate game, registering 27 goals and 16 assists in his four seasons with the Red Dragons.

He also proved to be a standout for Kingston Stockade FC in 2016, finishing with three goals and five assists.  The midfielder was a key cog in the team’s attack and it was clearly a great experience for all involved.

“I really enjoyed my experience with Stockade FC,” Williams added. “Being in the inaugural season was definitely an honor and it really felt like I was at a professional club.  It’s a credit to Dennis Crowley, Randy Kim, Dan Hoffay, Nick Hoffay, the coaching staff and countless others, they really pressed that professional-type mentality into the club and it was exciting to be a part of.”

Stockade FC Director of Player Personnel Dan Hoffay was quick to point out Williams’ contributions to the club.

“Dylan was a fantastic player for Stockade FC in 2016 and continues to be a great ambassador for our club. He is off to a great start in Australia and we wish him continued success. He has a bright future.”

That future includes being a professional in a league some 10,000 miles away from his club back in Kingston.  It’s shaping up to be quite an experience to say the least, but one that Williams has been prepared for, thanks to his time in the NPSL.

“The NPSL was really my first glimpse of soccer outside of college.  It tested my will to continue my playing career and helped develop other areas of my game that I lacked in college.  There is a lot of quality in the NPSL and it definitely challenged me and forced me to put more work in.  My favorite moment there was probably my first game, which was also our first home game.  We packed the stands, something like 800 fans, it was extremely loud and we ended up gritting out a late winner.”

Williams has fit in well with his new club, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

“It’s been a great experience so far the club has really helped me adjust and the team as accepted me instantly.  The league is definitely competitive with a level that is somewhat similar to the NPSL.  The structure is similar to most soccer outside of the U.S, with a league that stretches about seven months with no playoffs or anything like that.  And then what is called the FFA Cup and other cup competitions, similar to the FA Cup style in England or U.S. Open Cup in America where we have the opportunity to play A-League teams if we win some fixtures.”

It is clear that Williams is making the most of his transition to the Australian game.

“It definitely takes some adjustment playing abroad but the style is not too much different.   It has been really nice to play on mostly grass pitches as opposed to mostly turf in New York.  As far as challenges, nothing that you wouldn’t face from joining any new squad, just getting your name out there and proving you deserve to be a starter.”

Launceston City FC manager:Ben Brookfield has been quite impressed with Williams’ skill set and work ethic.  It’s quite evident that Williams has become an important part of the team and did so very quickly.

“Dylan has been a credit to himself and the U.S.  I think a lot of the Australian boys were shocked at the level of skill Dylan possesses .He has a very professional attitude and although we haven’t been doing so well as a team, Dylan has been a shining light in a poor start to the season.”

For those that know or played with Williams, this success should come as no surprise.  He went from college standout to NPSL star and now he has the chance to set the standard for American players abroad.  He’s that good and the sky’s literally the limit.

Photo Credit: Launceston City FC and Roy Gumpel
Legacy 76 Duo Continues Storied Careers in Australia

Jalon Brown and Alec Faulkner recently signed with Valentine FC in the New South Wales region of Australia.  This team also plays in the National Premier Leagues (NPL), the second tier of the Australian game.

“It’s been an amazing experience signing and playing with the club and just getting immersed in the lifestyle here,” Faulkner commented. “Everyone has been really welcoming within our club and it’s been really enjoyable so far.  The league is definitely high quality.”

Brown and Faulkner were Legacy 76 teammates who worked their way through the youth ranks together at Virginia Legacy before joining the club’s NPSL squad.  The pair have been shining stars at every step, dominating the club, high school, and collegiate levels over the years.

Both were All-District, All-Region, and All-State performers with Grafton HS (Brown) and Christchurch School (Faulkner).  Both also played for Christopher Newport University, where they continued their brilliant play by setting multiple records and garnering All-Conference, All-Region, and All-American honors during four years with the Captains.

They continued to play for Legacy 76 in the summer and each were instrumental in the team’s historic run to the semi-finals of the NPSL’s regional playoffs in 2016.  Brown and Faulkner were also selected to compete in the inaugural NPSL Combine that took place in Ft. Lauderdale in 2015.

Being able to play together at their hometown club ultimately proved to be a great decision for Faulkner.

“I grew up playing for VA Legacy so I was very excited to play for their NPSL team when it started up four years ago. It was a great opportunity to play with different players as well as play a different style from what I played in college. I was able to get in game shape for my college season, which really gave me an edge during preseason. The competition was tough and the start of my NPSL experience consisted of a lot of losses, but each year we improved until finally this past season we made the end of the year national tournament and made a pretty decent run. Winning always helps the experience. Similar to my youth experience, I was lucky to have very good coaches every year that helped me in some way or another with my game.”

Faulkner was very complimentary of the quality of play and the competition he faced in the Mid-Atlantic Conference.

“The NPSL brought some of the best college players together in one state. That kind of competition made the speed of play faster and the quality that much better. Playing in the NPSL made me think about the game quicker as well as tactically breaking down a team.”

Brown also found the Mid-Atlantic to be one of the top conferences in the entire country,

“As far as our conference, I think it was definitely competitive. I remember going to the NPSL Combine down in Florida and playing against, and with, people from all over the country and thinking ‘this is a high level,but it’s no different than what we have been playing in our conference games.’ So I think we definitely had some serious quality in our conference.”

Brown was happy with his decision to play in the NPSL, showing that the league made quite an impact on his career and development.

“The NPSL was a great ‘next step’ type of experience for me. It was convenient that we could play in the summer in between college seasons to keep us sharp and it also exposed us to different, sometimes better players than the same ones we were playing in college which made us better players. My favorite experience with the NPSL was the very first game that Legacy 76 ever played. It was the inaugural season and the first game was a home game so we had something like 1500-2000 fans there and it was really exciting.”

Equally exciting has been the chance to play as a pro in Australia.  According to Faulkner, it’s been a great start so far.

“Playing and living abroad in Australia is such a memorable experience. You have to pinch yourself occasionally when you’re walking out on the beach or swimming in the natural baths and tell yourself what did I do to get here? I’m still getting used to just seeing kangaroos hopping around! Jalon and I actually have the advantage of no one knowing us or our playing styles so we have a little edge over every team we play at least for the first games. The best thing about the game of soccer is that it’s an universal language and it can take you places that you have never been before and immediately connect you with people that could change your life. The biggest challenge would be missing friends and family. I am very fortunate that they stream all of our games so they can watch them, but not the same as them being there.”

Going through this journey together has been a real blessing for the duo, says Brown.

“Being here with not only a teammate but also a long-time friend is probably the best case scenario for me. Alec and I have played on the same team since we were about nine years old so making it all the way to this point together is pretty awesome just for the story alone! Additionally, because there is that point of familiarity it eases some of the nerves that you have about playing in another country with all new people at a very high level so that’s really been great as well.”

Valentine FC head coach Darren Stills is happy to have the talented pair on board.

“Alec and Jalon have settled in well to our club. They are continuing to adapt to the Australian style of football with Jalon securing his 1st goal on the weekend. Jalon works extremely hard both on and off the ball, which in turn not only inspires his teammates, but also keeps our opposition defenders on their toes. Alec has been utilised in the right back position and he is a super defender. He wins plenty of ball and has won most battles 1v1 on the flanks. He also drives forward in attack and had an assist on the weekend for our 1st goal.”

Stills is also impressed with their work off the field.

“Both boys off the pitch are respectful and well-mannered, which is a credit to their parents and upbringing.  We have secured accommodation, employment and a car for the boys to enjoy during their stay here in Newcastle. They love our beaches and relaxed lifestyle and I hope they really love our football club.”

Remember the names Jalon Brown and Alec Faulkner.  They are about to become big stars in Australia, players easily capable of making headlines and moving up the pyramid.
Demize Star Finds Success as a Pro in Australia

Demize NPSL Director of Soccer Operations Chris Hanlon knew that Daniel Tesoro was a star in the making the first time he stepped on the pitch.  His prediction turned out to be very true in 2016 as he became the team’s captain and and played every minute of every game until a foot injury sidelined him at the end of the season.  Solid performances throughout the season helped Tesoro earn All-Conference honors.

Tesoro was a versatile player that was at home at center back and defensive center midfielder, someone who could make an impact on the field at any moment.

“He was a positive, hard-working individual with a professional approach to the game and training,” Hanlon commented. “He had a unique combination of size, strength, and power that was topped off with an amazing technical speed of play and mind for the game, which obviously translated into him becoming a full professional after the NPSL season had concluded.”

Tesoro has now found himself in the Brisbane Premier League (BPL), playing for Logan Lightning FC.   It was a whirlwind experience for the former NPSL standout.

“The BPL here in Australia is great. It definitely is much quicker and requires a higher physical level, which is something that you work towards everyday. My current club, led by head coach Nick Croyden, is more than a player can ask for. From our facilities to all the boys and staff, it’s an environment that you want to be a part of.”

Adapting to this new environment has been a challenge, but it is one that Tesoro has embraced.  He explained how the promotion/relegation system makes every point and every game important for players, coaches, and fans.  You can’t coast through or take a game off.

Tesoro is clearly a player on the rise and yet he looks at his time in the NPSL with great fondness.

“I played some of my best football in the NPSL. Being able to captain a club with great players, who are still in touch and go through the same routine daily, was great. I couldn’t thank all the players from our squad and all the staff enough. From travel to accommodation we were looked after great.”

He also enjoyed being in Joplin, playing for Missouri’s only NPSL team.

“Joplin was great. Arriving at the club in early May Chris and the staff took care of us all with great accommodations and facilities, which enabled the squad to become really close. They were an excellent community with a fan base that is always trying to do what they can for their players. On a personal level the responsibility of captaining the club and playing for Chris was something that has built my career both as a footballer and as a man. Coach Hanlon is a true professional who always is trying to benefit the player’s development.”

Tesoro is yet another great player that got his start and developed his game in the NPSL.  He has used his experience in America as a foundation for a promising career in Australia, paving the way for other NPSL standouts to make the move down under.

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