Sacramento Republic announced yesterday that they have signed English forward Wilson Kneeshaw to a contract for the 2016 season. His signing brings the total number of players from the United Kingdom on the Republic roster to four.
Just as with most Republic news, the Kneeshaw signing kicked off a discussion amongst the Indomitable City Soccer staff. The main question that came out of the discussion was not about where Kneeshaw would fit in to the team. Graham Smith said that easily enough in the team's press release.
We have signed him for his potential.
No, the question that came out of our discussion was this: Is Sacramento Republic now the most British team in USL? And if they are not, who is?
Here's what we found.
Using each club's own website and uslsoccer.com, we compiled the rosters for each club and found out what percentage of players were from the UK. We only counted players who have been signed, so no players that have been loaned to the club for any length of time were included.
The rosters of 'MLS 2' clubs were decided based on which players each club listed on the active roster from each of the official team sites.
All rosters are current as of August 11, 2016.
After doing all that we discovered that the club with the highest percentage of British players is....
Arizona United SC!
With a little over 19% of the roster, 5 Arizona players call the United Kingdom home. With the recent signing of Kneeshaw, Sacramento Republic come in at second place with 17%.
The rest of the top 5 most British USL teams are Pittsburgh Riverhounds with 13% of their roster from the UK, Charlotte with 12.5%, and Orlando City B with 12%. No club in the USL has more than 5 players from the UK. In fact, 10 clubs do not currently have a British player listed on the active roster.
Just for a fun comparison, when Manchester City starts their English Premier League campaign tomorrow, only 16% of players on the active roster are from the United Kingdom.
Not satisfied with just looking at the players, we also took a look at the league's head coaches. Of the 29 head coaches in USL, six are from across the pond: Leigh Cowlishaw of the Richmond Kickers, San Antonio FC's Darren Powell, Orlando City B's Anthony Pulis, David Irving of the Tulsa Roughnecks, Mark Briggs of the Wilmington Hammerheads, and Republic's very own Paul Buckle. (Arizona's Canadian manager Frank Yallop was born in England and played 13 pro seasons there.)
For another fun fact, the USL also has more British coaches than the Premier League does; only five coaches managing EPL sides for the upcoming 2016/17 season are actually from the UK.
What are your thoughts on Sacramento's newest signing? Did anything surprise you about players from the U.K. on USL rosters? Let us know in the comments below!