Before getting to the defenders, I suddenly realized that while I’ve been helping all of you learn about your new USL Team, I did nothing to really introduce myself. I think that it’s only fair to put myself through the same ringer as the players. I mean, if you’re getting ready to start this new USL relationship, you should also get to know the guy who will help foster it.
So, here’s my rundown
H. Jose Bosch
Fun fact: First concert I ever went to was New Kids on the Block. My babysitter (the daughter of a family friend) took me. I was probably four or five. I met one of them backstage.
YouTube clip: I do not condone pushing girls … unless I’m 21, in college and playing touch football with the grace of a startled cow, apparently. In the below clip, watch the action just after the on-screen ads are done. See that lumbering oaf running over his female teammate in pursuit of the QB? That’s me. I didn’t even get a sack that day.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s learn about people you will actually care about.
Fun fact: Ruthven appeared in five matches for New York Red Bulls in 2012.
YouTube clip: If you’re a fan of good defending clips, then do I have the video for you! It’s a highlight tape for Ruthven. Defending. That's really it.
Fun fact: Scott Morrison is also the name of the Ticket Operations Director for FC Dallas. Oh, and AZ United Morrison appeared in over 100 matches and scored six goals for Scottish side Ross County from 2008-12 (including a top finish in the Scottish First Division in 2012) , which makes him more elite than most US Men’s National players if you’re Jurgen Klinsmann. (EUROPE!). This will be Morrison’s third season in Phoenix and last year he appeared in 24 matches and scored two goals. Still hoping both Morrisons meet at least once.
YouTube clip: You will be hard pressed to find a more polished video on a defender than this one. It’s like, "Defense, free kick goals, signing autographs … f--- yeah!"
Fun fact: Valentino was Orlando City SC’s captain from 2012-2014 (he first joined the team in 2011). In addition to winning two USL championships and three regular season titles, Valentino was the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year. These are very fun facts for whoever stands between the pipes in 2015.
YouTube clip: Not only is Valentino’s professionalism on the field rock solid, but his professionalism off of it is top class. Just watch him navigate this painfully awkward Mother’s Day interview with, I assume, is an intern for a terrible local radio station. You can’t teach that focus. He will answer your mother-related questions as deftly as he will kill an oncoming attack.
Fun fact: Granger was a member of the 2010 Portland Timbers U23s (Premier Development League) that went unbeaten and untied to win the PDL National Championship.
YouTube clip: It’s time to jump into the time machine and go back to that 2010 season as we "get defensive" with Granger and his teammate. What this clip may lack in actual soccer highlights, it makes up for in Granger’s hair. Really hope he brings that look back.
Fun fact: Grousis was the second-ever signing for Phoenix FC (in 2012), the now-defunct USL club that was the precursor to AZ United SC.
YouTube clip: There’s little recent tape of Grousis, but he has a very infectious personality, as evidenced from this feature during his first season in Phoenix.
Fun fact: Antunez appeared in three matches for the club formerly known as Chivas USA. (FUN!)
YouTube clip: Maybe this qualifies as more of a fun fact, but when you have video evidence of two goals in Europa League (I’m 73.7% sure it’s the same guy), you have to expand that beyond just words.
As I said in the goaltenders report, AZ United SC allowed the fourth-most goals in the league in 2014 and it likely wasn’t entirely the keepers’ fault. But in addition to returning three defenders from last season who played at least 19 matches (Ruthven, Morrison and Antunez), the club adds a defender with plenty of USL experience (Granger) and gets a USL-level elite defender and leader in Valentino. The former OCSC standout alone should do wonders for making the back line much more organized and much less penetrable. And bringing back three guys with heavy minutes from last season should mean that any chemistry issues will be limited (the club went 4-0-1 to end 2014 and they will have a much better starting point for 2015).
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the midfield while we keep waiting for both clubs to officially announce who will be loaned out.