Nine return for Metros|
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
NASHVILLE, TN -- The 2006 Nashville Metros will field their deepest, most talented and experienced team in years with today’s signing of a virtual who’s who of star Metros veterans who have earned recognition from United Soccer Leagues and the team for their accomplishments in recent seasons.
Headlining the list of nine veterans returning for the 2006 campaign are 2005 team MVP Danny Devall, all-time Metros scoring leader Pasi Kinturi, 2003 All Southern Conference defender T.J. McCallum, 2005 team Offensive Player of the Year Igor Stjepic and former Metros player Jaymi Bailey, who led the USL’s professional First Division in assists while playing for the team in 2001.
Other standouts returning for 2006 include 2003 Premier Development League assist leader Ben Buerger, 2005 team MVP runner-up Mark Photivihok, 2005 team Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Erick “Fabricio” Montalvan and 2004 Metros Offensive Player of the Year Richard Askey, who was previously named assistant coach in recognition of his leadership on the team for the past two seasons.
“If we were putting together a team of Metros All Stars for the past five years, every one of these guys would make the team,” said Metros General Manager Ken Renner. “It is a tremendous compliment to our franchise, our management and especially our coaching staff that we have assembled a group this talented for our push to the PDL playoffs this season.”
Six of the players were on the 2005 Metros team that swept its final four matches to knock on the door of the PDL playoffs. McCallum returns to the squad after taking a year off from soccer in 2005, Bailey comes back after fully recovering from health problems and Buerger, a Metros co-captain in 2004, played last year for the now defunct Memphis Express.
Head Coach Obed Compean and new Director of Coaching Rico Laise, who coached the Metros professional team in 1999, plan to sign several more experienced players along with some exciting young newcomers who will push the veterans for playing time as they complete their roster.
“We won’t have too many players on the field for a full 90 minutes,” Compean said. “With a team like this, we’ll be able to bring on subs in the second half who are just as good as the people they replace, except they’ll have fresh legs. And with the speed we have, I think other teams will have a hard time keeping up with us.”
Following is biographical information on the first group of Metros signees:
Richard Askey, 23, a forward from Burton-on-Trent, England who returns for his third season. The team’s 2004 Offensive Player of the Year has recorded 21 points (10 G, 1 assist) in 26 games in the past two seasons.
Jaymi Bailey, a skilled 29-year-old attacking midfielder who last played for the Metros pro team in 2001 when he was the USL First Division Assist Leader (11) and compiled 19 points (4 G, 11 A) in 26 matches.
Ben Buerger, a solid 26-year-old midfielder who played for the Metros 2002-2004 before signing with Memphis last year. He was named the teams’s co-MVP in 2003 when he led the PDL in assists (9) and was the team’s co-captain in 2004. He has 20 points (5 G, 10 A) in 40 games for the Metros.
Danny “Freight Train” Devall, a fiery fan favorite and the team’s emotional leader who was named MVP in 2005 despite playing in just 9 games. The 33-year-old midfielder from Memphis returns for his ninth season as the Metros all-time leader in games played (83), minutes played (7,186), shots (91) and fouls (152). He also ranks fourth all-time in goals (16), third in points (40) and second in cautions (11) for the team.
Pasi Kinturi, a 31-year-old forward who has played over 50 games for Nashville since his inaugural 1996 season, when he was named the league’s MVP. Sometimes known as the “Finnish Finisher” for his deft touch around the net, he holds all the team’s all-time offensive records, including goals (31), assists (24) and points (86).
T.J. McCallum, 22, a strong, fast defender from Columbia, Tenn. who was named to the PDL’s All Southern Conference team in his 2003 rookie season. McCallum returns to Nashville rejuvenated for his third season after taking a year off from the sport in 2005.
Erick “Fabricio” Montalvan, a 27-year-old defender / midfielder from Honduras who finished a close runner-up to in Defensive Player of the Year balloting last season to two-year Metros veteran J.P. Rodrigues, who was chosen No 1 by Miami FC in USL’s First Division Collegiate Draft in January. When Fabricio joined Rodrigues on the back line midway through the 2005 season, the team’s defensive performance improved dramatically as the Metros surrendered only 10 goals in their final 8 games while recording two shutouts.
Mark Photivihok, a 23-year-old product of Nashville’s Father Ryan High School, was runner-up in team MVP balloting last year for his relentless work rate and his reckless efforts to win every loose ball. In four years with the club, Photivihok has risen to No. 3 on the team’s all-time list in games played (62) while compiling 26 points (10 G, 6 A), which ties him for No. 10 on the team’s all-time scoring list with Franklin’s Landy Mattison.
Igor Stjepic, a 25-year-old Bosnian forward who has twice won team Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2002 and 2005 and was No. 5 in the PDL in scoring in his 2002 rookie year. Returning for his fifth season, Stjepic already ranks No. 2 on the team’s all-time scoring list behind Kinturi with 49 points (19 G, 11 A) in 45 games.