The Spartans had a tumultuous debut season. After sarting the season on a seven game unbeaten streak, the Spartans finishing with eight wins, ten ties and four losses. As far as accolades, the Spartans earned the dubious record of the most ties in a single season, and tied the single game scoring record during its week 21 thrashing of Alamo City.
As far as personnel, 23 players were listed on the 12 man roster at one point in the season. Several pieces of bad news affected the manager's selection. First, news that Luke Rodgers, one of the Spartan's initial roster picks, was denied a work visa set the team back as that spot could have been used for a regular season starter. Later, season ending injuries to Koevermans and Corradi (both ACL tears) deprived the Spartans of much needed goals and assists up front. In July, the club received news that Grazzini, one of the clubs most efficient point scorers, was retuning to his native Argentina and not extending his contract with MLS.
Not all news was bad, however. The club won bidding wars for Kenny Miller and Tim Cahill, and picked up several contributors on free transfers during the season. Tim Cahill scored three points in as many starts for the Spartans and it is expected that he will return next year as a designated player.
The Spartans lost the empire cup 6-7 on aggregate. The Spartans swept the season series against KC Quest, and was swept over two games by Alliance FC.
And now for the season end statistics:
13 - Zusi
10 - Sene
8 - Koevermans, Johnson
7 - Grazzini
5 - Corradi
Points per start Leaders:
Cahill - 3 in 3
Zusi - 13 in 20
Sene - 10 in 20
Koevermans - 8 in 17
Corradi - 5 in 11
With the upcoming break in the schedule, the Spartans find themselves in 5th place in the standings overall. The teams top producers have been Graham Zusi (7 points), Sair Sene (7 points), Sebastien Grazzini (5 points) and Bernardo Corradi (5 points). After a slow start (including an injury that kept his action limited over the last several weeks), expansion draft pick Danny Koevermans has finally started contributing with 3 points over the past 3 weeks. Surprisingly, Jack Jewsbury has struggled to get on the scoresheet and the Spartan's chairman must be getting impatient with him. Goalkeeping has also been a problem position for the Spartans, with only 4 points between the clubs two goalkeepers, Sean Johnson and Jon Busch.
This weekend the Spartans notched their third BSL victory of the season by beating KC Quest 3-2, bringing their record to 3-0-4. The Spartans currently sit in fourth place in the league with 13 points.
This weekend presents challenges for the Spartans, with Koevermans' status questionable as he struggles with an injury that kept him out of Week 7 action and with Graham Zusi on a bye week. Zusi's six points leads the team right now, followed by goalkeeper Jon Busch with 3.
A nearly three month old visa saga ended today with Luke Rodgers being denied a U.S. work visa indefinitely. As a result, his MLS contract was terminated.
Spartans also suffered a setback last weekend when Juan Agudelo was injured while playing for the U23 national team and required surgery. As a result, the Chairman has dropped both Rodgers and Agudelo and has signed Luis Gil. Spartans also announced a revised lineup for week 4 action.
Danny Koevermans Bernardo Corradi Jack Jewsbury Juninho Sair Sene Wells Thompson
A late blunder by Spartans goalkeeper Sean Johnson caused the Men's U-23 team to crash out of Olympic qualifying last night in the Group A final against El Salvador.
Needing a win to advance, Johnson failed to make an easy block in injury time and let El Salvador tie it 3-3. El Salvador advances. Given the recent performance of new signing Jon Busch it remains to be seen whether Johnson will regain his starting position once he returns to BSL league action.
In other news, Spartans striker Juan Agudelo was injured in the Olympic qualifying match against Cuba. Agudelo, who undergoes surgery in New York on Wednesday, will be out for at least 6 weeks.
The Spartans notched their first BSL win this weekend in a 5-0 rout over Burud Town. Points came from everywhere with Sair Sene and Casey Townsend getting goals, two assists from midfield playmaker Graham Zusi and a clean sheet from new signing Jon Busch.
The Chairman said, "We were pleased to see Sair and Casey open their accounts this weekend - clearly these two know how to score goals. Once Bernardo and Danny come into form I think this team can compete amongst the best in the BSL."
The Spartans roster had been depleted with players away for U-23 National Team duty and striker Luke Rodgers still tied up with visa issues. Spartans will feature in the Game of the Week in Week 4 against the undefeated Saints.
Today the Spartans 1612 Football Club announced its final squad for its inaugural BSL season.
First Round (12th Overall): Graham Zusi
Second Round (24th Overall): Jack Jewsbury
Third Round (36th Overall): Sair Sene
Fourth Round (48th Overall): Juan Agudelo
Fifth Round (60th Overall): Luke Rodgers (pre-draft trade)
Sixth Round (72nd Overall): Sebastian Grazzini (pre-draft trade)
Seventh Round (84th Overall): Juninho
Eighth Round (95th overall): Chad Barrett
Ninth Round (106th Overall): Sean Johnson
Tenth Round (115th Overall): Brian Mullan
11th Round (117th Overall): Casey Townsend
Initial media reaction was mixed. While some journalists credited the management with some shrewd signings, others pointed to several players with no previous MLS experience (Sene, Townsend).
TODAY, the Chairman announced the signing of Danny Koevermans as its expansion round pick. The Chairman had the following to say, "Danny is a top quality striker, and we expect him to compete for the golden boot this year. We think Danny's strength and clinical finishing ability will serve Spartans well as we seek to compete in our inaugural BSL season."
Koevermans, who had 8 goals in 10 appearances last season, previously played in the Dutch Eredivisie for AZ and PSV. Upon hearing the news, many fans questioned whether the Chairman had a bias towards European and South American players. It was widely known that Spartans had been pursuing Mauro Rosales prior to his signing with Rose City. The Chairman reacted strongly, saying "We do not have any bias against American players and have several circled for the coming era. This league's future depends on developing and nurturing American talent. I think today's signing of Brek Shea by KC shows that to be true."
Meanwhile, the supporters remain on edge regarding the lack of news regarding Luke Rodgers visa. Rodgers, who has earned a reputation as one of the bad boys of the league, has had problems with his visa because of several disciplinary action in his native UK.
Today the Chairman announced the signing of two new players, Luke Rodgers from Borud Town and Sebastien Grazzini from Alliance FC. Rodgers and Grazzini were among the most productive players in the league last season, averaging more than a point scored per 1.5 games played.
In a brief question and answer session, the Chairman said "Look, we've all been to the dance before. We had the opportunity to acquire these players in exchange for our 5th and 6th draft picks. My staff had them rated higher, so we moved quickly to sign them".
Some observers noted that it was a risky move to sign Rodgers at this time, given that he has had ongoing visa problems since joining the league in 2011. When asked about his visa problems, the Chairman said "We are confident enough that it will all come through okay".
The signing is also expected to stoke up rivalry talk between the Spartans and Gateway United, as Rodgers and Gateway star Landon Donovan held several heated exchanges last year. In an interview with reporters, Rodgers said “The kid’s a (*$%@#)head. I don’t care. I just think the kid’s a (friggin’ jerk)."
The full 2012 BSL schedule was released Wednesday the 15th, pitting Spartans 1612 against the Second City F.C. on opening weekend. The Chairman said, "We are keenly aware that last year the Stars were able to win the second most amount of games in the league behind the Gunners. They are fast, well organized, and they know how to win games." When asked about the Stars returning DP Brad Davis, he said "One of the keys to our strategy will be closing Brad down in the final third and restricting his passing lanes to the front lines."
When asked about recent transfer speculation gripping the fans, the Chairman remarked "We expect to be able to announce something in the next 48 hours."
On Monday, February 13, the new Chairman of Spartans 1612 announced that the club would enter the Bigtime Soccer League for the 2012 season. After an influx of capital from unnamed middle eastern investors, the club is prepared to compete among the best fantasy teams in the nation.
In prepared remarks, the new Chairman said "Building a program from scratch in this environment is a risky proposition. Thankfully we have the confidence of our investor group, our fans and our new coaching staff and plan to make a go of it in the BSL."
When asked about future signings, the Chairman played it coy, "As you know, the BLS draft is an unpredictable event. My coaching staff has its eyes on some promising talent and we will work hard to bring that talent into Spartans 1612."