The Battery announced two signings yesterday afternoon, one of which we’d reported and another that was news. The club initially announced the signing of midfielder Jared van Schaik on the 13th at the season-ticket-holders-meet-and-greet, but gave him the formal treatment on their website yesterday. The new name is starting goalkeeper Kevin Klasila, who might be one of the most interesting storylines among this year’s returning players.
Here’s Whitney Woods, writing for the Battery:
Coach Anhaeuser commented “Signing Kevin and Jared is an important piece of our squad as Kevin is back in goal for his second season and Jared brings quality and depth in our midfield from the Puerto Rico Islanders. We are looking forward to both of them contributing this season.”
Goalkeeper Kevin Klasila returns to the Battery for a second season after missing much of his first year through injury. Klasila started the Battery’s first game of the 2012 campaign, a 2-1 win versus Richmond Kickers, but following the injury he did not return to contention until late in the season.
Klasila was a four-year starter at Santa Clara University majoring in Marketing. A native of Los Angeles, CA, Klasila, 6-1, 185 lbs., 23 yrs., attended Loyola High School.
Midfielder Jarad van Schaik arrives at the Charleston Battery after spending the past two years with the NASL’s Puerto Rico Islanders. van Schaik played 40 games for Puerto Rico scoring three goals.
A native of Portland, OR, van Schaik 6-1, 185 lbs., 24 yrs., played collegiately at the University of Portland scoring 13 goals and adding 14 assists in over 70 games played.
Of course, the player who replaced Klasila last season was Andrew Dykstra, a talented young keeper perpetually stuck at the bottom of the D.C. United depth chart. Dykstra was a key member of the Battery’s 2012 championship push, but he returned to the parent club as soon as the dust settled. With DCU signing an affiliation deal with Richmond in January, offseason speculation typically assumed that Dykstra would wind up in a Kickers uniform this year. That hasn’t happened yet, and with backup keeper Joe Willis on the mend from a foot injury, Dykstra has been filling the slot behind red-hot Bill Hamid.
So Klasila gets another shot at the Battery’s starting job, and it couldn’t go to a nicer guy. With the exception of the disastrous first 45 minutes in the team’s Carolina Challenge Cup opener against Vancouver — memorable as the first and only minutes logged by trialist defender Ebrima Jatta — he’s been steady throughout the preseason, and actually took a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire into stoppage time. He typically plays the first half of preseason matches, then gives way to Cuban keeper Odisnel Cooper in the second. In the matches I’ve seen, he’s seldom faced serious challenges.
But here’s the thing if you’re Klasila: While Cooper hasn’t put up the resume that Klasila has, his first (and I believe only) start of 2013 might have been the most dramatic performance by a Battery player since Mike Azira’s 2012 championship-winning goal. Facing a fully staffed Houston Dynamo squad, Cooper saved a penalty kick, fought off repeated attacks and kept the game knotted at 1-1 into the 75th minute, when rookie Austin Savage scored the game-winner. The MLS media that attended the match didn’t miss out on the angle.
Cooper is clearly a talent with a big future. But does he possess all the intangibles required to push Klasila for the starting job? And wouldn’t it be interesting if Richmond has Dykstra between the pipes when the Kickers come to Blackbaud Stadium on Sept. 8?
Speaking of netminders, hardcore fans might be interested to know that 2012 Battery backup keeper Alec Kann has signed with the Chicago Fire.
USMNT FREAKOUT RISK WARNING: I don’t have much more to say about the Sporting News-Klinsmann article than what I said yesterday, but in the middle of the night I got this idea for a system for alerting fans of the U.S. Men’s Team to their appropriate level of shirt-ripping panic. Since, you know, American fans expect disaster. Always.
Match tonight at 10 p.m., ESPN. I can’t decide whether I can go out to a bar another night this week, but it’s going to be on the set at Madra Rua, and should draw a good crowd.
If Costa Rica wins it, I’m guessing we go to Threat Condition Orange. Or is it Red?
THE CANADIANS ARE COMING? So yesterday around 4:30-ish I was finishing a draft of a post about potential MLS partners for the Battery when Hunter Johnson Tweeted this link to a newspaper report in Vancouver that said the Whitecaps were going to be sending more players down to Charleston on loan.
I was actually planning on running that post on Saturday, but once I saw some of the information in the article from The Province, I decided I didn’t have the luxury of saving that post for later. So I added in the new info, emailed Battery President Andrew Bell (who replied that he couldn’t comment “until all is finalized”), and pressed “publish.”
— Hunter Johnson (@Venat0ri) March 21, 2013
But there was plenty from that article — and lots of chatter coming out of Vancouver fans — that requires closer examination.
According to beat writer Mark Weber, the pending deal will send us Canadians Bryce Alderson and Ben Fisk (who arrived in time to play the College of Charleston on Tuesday), plus Ghanaian Emmanuel Adjetey on loan “for the season.”
The Whitecaps describe the 19-year-old Alderson as “a talented and hardworking central midfielder that captained Canada at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup… Bryce Alderson joined Whitecaps FC’s Major League Soccer roster after signing a ‘Generation adidas’ contract as a Home Grown player on Nov. 17, 2011. Named Canadian U-17 Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011, the native of Kitchener, Ontario, first joined the club’s Residency program on Sept. 7, 2010.”
Adjetey was a trialist with the Whitecaps, and his profile doesn’t appear on the team site. He has a stub of a Wikipedia entry, however, and this highlight reel:
So first impression: He’s got a wicked bending free kick.
Ben Fisk, whom we discussed a bit earlier in the week, is nicknamed “Ben Ten.” And that’s about all I know about him that’s not in his player profile. Unlike Alderson, who has an MLS contract, Fisk is still on a PDL deal, according to Weber.
Weber also mentioned a name that a Canadian fan has suggested in comments here on the site: Caleb Clarke, a forward. But fan chatter in British Columbia is split between him heading here and the Whitecaps sending him to FC Edmonton in the NASL. Quick note to Mr. Clarke: If given a choice between spending a season in Edmonton or a season in Charleston, most people would pick Charleston. We have beaches.
Here’s why the Clarke possibility interests me. A loan is a loan, but the magic number in MLS/USL affiliation loans is four. Three plus one is four. And pay attention to this reporting from Weber’s article:
The Caps are familiar with the Battery organization, having played together in the second tier. There is a good relationship with Battery president Andrew Bell, who was at B.C. Place to watch the Caps’ season opener against Toronto.
There’s also a comfort level with the Battery’s coaching staff. Michael Anhaeuser, who is also the general manager in Charleston, has been coaching there since 2005….
While loan deals were possible before this season, MLS has moved to a more formalized relationship with USL Pro, the third tier of North American soccer. Part of the initiative is to make loan moves simpler in order to aid youth development.
In other words, ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a suitor. But do we have a formal proposal?
Up next: A preview of tomorrow night’s Battery-Hammerheads friendly. Check back later this afternoon.