Best USL offseason signings: A quality shot-stopper and a dangerous attacker
- Which USL offseason signings are having the biggest impact on the field this year? Let’s take a look at a pair of players who are shining with their new teams in 2022.
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Roster churn is a fact of life during the offseason for teams all around the world. The USL Championship is no exception. New offseason signings can have real value, especially if they hit the ground running. When a new face immediately provides all-league performances, it can make a team’s season.
Let’s talk about a pair of players who have done just that.
Jordan Farr, GK, San Antonio FC
As it stands, San Antonio boasts the best defense in the entire USL with just 13 goals allowed this season. At the same time, they rank eighth in shots on target allowed per 90 minutes and a surprising 18th in shots allowed per 90 minutes. So they’re not perfect when it comes to denying shots in the first place.
Jordan Farr, a star goalkeeper signed after an emergency loan stint in the 2021 playoffs, has been the difference.
Farr was a backup with Indy Eleven for years. He was always solid in relief but never had the opportunity to step up as the first-choice goalkeeper. After excelling on loan, he moved to Texas on a permanent basis. San Antonio began 2022 with three starting-caliber goalkeepers, and the 27-year-old could have faced more time riding the pine. However, week-one starter Cristian Bonilla retired after three matches, Farr claimed the starting spot, and the results have been fantastic.
Statistically, Farr rates in the 97th percentile for goals saved above average and in the 80th or better for goals against and save percentage. Alen Marcina’s team doesn’t spend much of any time in possession, so the defense bears the brunt of pressure in their own half. Without Farr’s brilliance and sharp distribution – he’s in the 90th percentile of goalkeepers for long balls as a share of his total passes – San Antonio wouldn’t be nearly as successful this year.
Enzo Martinez, MF, Birmingham Legion
A club legend with the Charlotte Independence, Enzo Martinez has been a constant attacking weapon after moving to Alabama. One of the top all-time assisters in the USL Championship, Martinez has six goals and four assists in 2022. The Argentinian operated as a deep-lying creator for much of his stint in Charlotte and in other stops with the Carolina Railhawks and Colorado Rapids, but his role has changed entirely for the Legion.
Birmingham play in a defensive 4-4-2 off the ball, where Martinez operates as a striker alongside Juan Agudelo. He ranks in the top half of USL attackers for successful defensive actions per 90, constantly roving to bother opposing forwards while maintaining a cover shadow that limits passing lanes into the middle of the field. Martinez and Agudelo aren’t lightning fast, but their intelligent positioning makes the Legion hard to break down.
Still, Martinez is best when he’s on the ball. His passing vision and audacious through balls are eye-popping, and those six goals paint the picture of a true scoring threat.
Absolute banger of an equalizer scored by ex-Rapid Enzo Martinez for Birmingham Legion in the USL.pic.twitter.com/CwlEipshZ3— Joseph Samelson (@jspsam) July 3, 2022
Martinez won’t beat you with his speed or with flashy dribbling, but he sets the tone and drives dangerous attacking sequences. He’s at the heart of Birmingham’s system in every facet of play. It’s hard to imagine a savvier offseason pickup.