ESPL Off Season 1 – The Wrap Up

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Welcome back to the ESPL! It’s been a little over a month since Gothica claimed the first ESPL Championship and now we come to the thick and thin of the off season action. There is a lot to report, too.

On the managerial side of things, several clubs solidified their faith in their managerial staff. Gothica kept Peter Stark, Emerald United kept Arthur Franklin, Shamrock Celtic kept Ephraim Colton, Naval Armada kept Horatio Antonelli, Shazam CM kept Locke Carson, Vulcan FC kept Nathan Bristol, Allen FC kept Roberto Ruiz, and Sporting Black Cats kept Javier Gerrardo. While all the clubs failed to give reasons, some clubs didn’t need to give any reasons. The two clubs that did offer something were the two most in need of explanation.

Sporting Black Cats released a statement ensuring that a single season wasn’t enough to judge Javier Gerrardo, so they retained him to help set up for the upcoming season. Allen FC stated that Roberto Ruiz had surpassed their expectation for season one but they held him on because they felt he was the best chance for expanding their horizons for season two.

Some surprising changes weren’t necessarily the fault of the manager. Halo lost the services of Otto Borden, who stated that Halo’s plans for the upcoming season didn’t match his vision for the club. Borden was shortly thereafter signed by Knightsquare in the hopes he can repair and elevate the club from the bottom of the table, where they spent the entire season.

“I’m confident with my hand,” said Otto Borden, new Manager for Knightsquare. “That we can get more than a couple of wins in season two, building up the club, and actually preparing for a serious run at the top of the table for season three. I’m confident we can make the moves necessary to accomplish this goal.”

The temporary services group of Jason Druid (Knightsquare), Lee Watterson (Wordsmiths), and Yuri Gurkov (Real Olympia) all had interesting moves. Jason Druid was signed by Tardis, citing his experience in the league would be a good basis to start for the club. Lee Watterson was signed by Real Olympia, citing that his managerial style fit the club’s expectations for the coming season. Gurkov was signed by Queensdaisy after Real Olympia failed to make an offer in time, so he packed up and left to take charge of one of the new clubs for the coming season.

Citrus LF signed Matthew Albright, former manager of Wordsmiths. The club stated that they felt that Wordsmiths hadn’t provided adequate resources and thus set Albright up for failure.

Halo signed Vince Pratchett, former manager of Real Olympia. Halo saw what Pratchett was attempting to accomplish but the former club wouldn’t allow him to make the moves that needed to be made in order to succeed, so Halo snagged his services for at least the next season.

Octagon, one of the new clubs coming, hired Drago Visilli as their manager. Visilli was a defensive specialist for Halo and was interested in moving up. With the change in managerial staff at Halo, Visilli was left without employment and thus available.

Finally, Zeke Pike was signed by Wordsmiths. Pike, former manager of Knightsquare, lobbied to be considered for the position and brought an interesting plan to the interview. The plan was of some interest because Pike was hired, hoping the club will allow him to make some big purchases to elevate them for the upcoming season.

Along with the managers, there were releases and walkouts for players as well. Since the volume of those are higher than the managers, we will simply list the free agents that hit the market recently.

Allen FC parted ways with Jack Doyle, Alvin Marques, and Wade Wonder. Emerald United parted ways with Francois Liguere (GK), David Janson, Kelvin Bradley, and Bart Hathaway. Gothica parted ways with Renan Silva (GK), Hiro Takahashi, Juan Avilaperez, and Yuri Petrikoff. Halo parted ways with Hector Lopez, Ravi Garcon, and James Tracer. Knightsquare parted ways with HL Wagner (GK), Ryad Al Sayad, Theron Wildhorse, Darin Van Pelt, and Alan Marquardt. Naval Armada parted ways with Jesse Davis, Pedro Cruz, Piotr Khrush, William Tavern, and Xavier Masters. Real Olympia parted ways with RJ Thane (GK), Michael Bradfords, Walter Amos, David Lopez, and Gregoric Probst. Shamrock Celtic parted ways with Don Thomas, Zane Faulken, Luis Suarez, Tom Johnson, and Patrick Barnes. Shazam CM parted ways with Corey Carson, Drago Petroff, and Russell Mantrell. Sporting Black Cats parted ways with Nate Havram, Jean-Louis Pepon, Luigi Antonelli, Jose Lopez, and Gene Blankenship. Vulcan FC parted ways with Boris Putin, Fuji Takei, Muleaki A’anhi, and Dzung Tran. Finally, Wordsmiths parted ways with Dorian Parker (GK), Tendo Hiroshima, Shu Liang, Samuel Brankoff, Josh Franklin, Donald Blake, and Kerwin Katzer.

The biggest surprises in here are the ones we’ll concentrate on. Patrick Barnes opted to leave Shamrock Celtic after their offer was undesirable to him, so he left the contract lying on the table. Dzung Tran decided to leave Vulcan FC, citing opportunities weren’t in Vulcan and he left his options open. Francois Liguere was released by Emerald United, in a stunning move, so he’s available to try his luck not the market. Renan Silva was released by Gothica, which stunned many. Otherwise, the names may raise eyebrows but those were the big moves.

Signings were rampant. In the below graphic, all the signings are completed. The blue represents the new players in the league and the light green represents players on their new clubs. Click on the graphic to get the full size version.

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The interesting points here are Gothica and Shamrock Celtic only replacing players with brand new players. This will turn out to be a big deal if they continue to dominate the top of the table in 2017. The signing of the year goes to Naval Armada obtaining Patrick Barnes. The deal is only a single year deal but Naval Armada is making their intentions known that they want the next championship.

See you for the schedule announcement later this year.