Although another transfer you might have heard about stole the headlines in American soccer this week, Josh Wynder’s move from Louisville City to Benfica for $1.2 million could also end up making a huge difference in the long-term. Wynder is an academy product of Louisville, a player that came up through the USL pipeline and garnered seven-digit bids from the elite in Europe. His sale is a culmination of the league’s player development strategy, and it shows that the USL can develop talent with U.S. men’s national team upside.
Let MLS bring eyeballs to the sport and grow the market; the second division is here to expand access to the game at lower levels.
Beyond the Wynder move, two USL teams were in action in the Open Cup, an all-league player was traded in a stunner, and the results across the matchweek were as revealing as ever.
Let’s dig in.
1. Tampa Bay (No change)
Result: W 3-2 v. New Mexico
In a continued effort to get the band back together, the Rowdies brought back Jake LaCava on loan from Inter Miami this week. LaCava was with Tampa Bay last season, working as a free-flowing forward in a mobile front line alongside Leo Fernandes. The pair was dynamite, and LaCava earned 12 goals and an MLS shot. That opportunity in Miami didn't exactly pan out, and LaCava now rejoins a clicking Tampa Bay team to make them that much more terrifying.
Not that the help was needed. The Rowdies were as fierce as ever playing host to New Mexico, and their iteration on the right wing stood out. Up against a back three, Neill Collins allowed right wingback Laurence Wyke and winger Sebastian Dalgaard to constantly interchange and simultaneously keep aggressive positions upfield. Within an otherwise-standard 5-4-1, the gambit made buildup tremendously difficult for the guests.
New Mexico scraped back two goals, but they never approached the Rowdies' level of coherence. Another week, another win for an ever-deepening Tampa Bay.