SUNSHINE CONFERENCE PREVIEW
The Sunshine Conference is expected to be one of the NPSL’s most competitive conferences. The conference will boast a new look thanks to the addition of Storm FC and new faces on returning teams.
Jacksonville United, which claimed the conference title last year with a 7-2-2 record, will be led by 2011 National Championship MVP Tommy Krizanovic. The Crotian forward led JU in both goals (9) and assists (9) last season and is again expected to provide the foundation of the team’s attack in 2014.
Ramak Safi, Nurdin Hrustic, and Tyler Williams join Krizanovic as key returning players, while Pedro Caneiro and Khori Foster are newcomers that should make an impact for Pat Cannon’s squad.
Storm FC is new to the NPSL, but is a club with a lot of talent and high expectations. The club is led by head coach Jose Garcia Quevedo, who spent five years on the coaching staff of Spanish side Valencia CF.
The team is expected to deploy a Spanish style of play, which involves possession and speed moving forward. Storm FC is expecting big things from David Major, Fernando Gatica, and Lucas Befi. Gatica brings NPSL experience after spending last season with FC Sparta Michigan, while Major and Befi both hail from Belhaven College.
Tampa Marauders F.C. looks to improve on a 3-2-2 finish last season. The team is bolstered by the return of Kevin King, Jonathan Thompson, and Robert Rivers III. They also welcome forward Zach Hofstetter and midfielders Cardel Benbow and Kenniel Hyde.
The Cape Coral Hurricanes look to be the most improved team in the conference after ending the season with a 0-7-1 record. They do return First Team All-Sunshine Conference selection Antonio Wint, who led the squad in goals last season.
Reinforcements will come in the form of players from the Quad City Eagles and Florida Gulf Coast University. Midfielders Steven Rocca and Sergio Ruiz join forwards Ivo Lima and Corey Faughnan as well as goalkeeper Yves Dietrich as impact players for the 2014 Hurricanes.
Miami United is another team that underwent a makeover. Former New York Cosmos player Ferdinando De Matthaeis is Miami United’s new head coach. He is one lucky guy as this squad is loaded with international talent.
Jacopo Camili, Vicenzo Bernardo, Andrea Grieco, Erick Vallecillo, and Jimmy Asprilla are all names that fans and supporters should look out for.
Camili was a star in Malta’s First Division with Birkirkara, while Grieco played for Italian sides Sampdoria and F.C. Aprilia. Bernardo has featured for the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team and played in Italy, Guatemala, and Austria. Vallecillo has earned 34 caps with the Honduras National Team and Asprilla, 33, is a former Deportivo Cali and Millonarios defender.