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USL Eastern Conference Best XI - Week 1

Which players of the Eastern Conference stood out from the rest on opening weekend?

MLS: D.C. United at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the first ever edition of the ICS Eastern Conference Team of the Week! Each week we will be publishing our of the Eastern Conference Best XI, according to our Player Rating methodology, which you can read more about here. These players rated the highest in this week’s formula and put in performances that stood out above the rest of the conference.

Best XI - Week 1

Goalkeeper: Travis Worra, Richmond Kickers: 5000 pts, Player of the Week

Travis Worra had a fantastic opening day, leading Richmond to a shutout win over Harrisburg. A save off a PK from the City Islanders’ Aaron Wheeler in the 13th minute preserved the clean sheet for Worra, and earns him Player of the Week honors for Week 1.

Defender: Forrest Lasso, Charleston Battery: 4358 pts

Even as a defender, Lasso lead the team in shots on the night with three, including the first goal of the match, leading the Battery to a 2-1 win over FC Cincinnati. Lasso also showed impressive skill on the defensive side of the ball, leading the team in clearances with 13.

Defender: Damion Lowe, Tampa Bay Rowdies: 2772 pts

Lowe had a lights out night for the Rowdies. He led Tampa Bay in clearances with eight and provided enough to disrupt what little attack Orlando City B had Saturday night.

Defender: Conor Shanosky, Richmond Kickers: 4178 pts

It was Shanosky’s goal in the 51st minute that proved to be the difference in Richmond’s 1-0 win over Harrisburg. Shanosky also played a consistent part in the Kickers’ passing game, with the highest passing accuracy on the team at a 79.3%.

Midfielder: Vincent Bezecourt, New York Red Bulls II: 3613 pts

Bezecourt’s two goals, including a PK goal in the 79th minute, helped earn a draw for the defending champs against Pittsburgh on opening day. He is currently tied with Corey Hertzog, who lineup up against him Saturday, as the Eastern Conference’s top scorer.

Midfielder: Justin Portillo, Charleston Battery: 4110 pts

Our player rating system smiles upon playmakers on the pitch, and Portillo’s performance against FC Cincinnati exemplified that. Not only did Portillo create the most chances of any Battery player with four, he also scored the go-ahead goal to take all three points.

Midfielder: Michael Nanchoff, Tampa Bay Rowdies: 2887 pts

To reiterate, our player rating system loves playmakers, and Michael Nanchoff did Portillo one better. With seven chances created, the Rowdies midfielder leads the league in creating attacking opportunities on the pitch. Nanchoff was also one of two Rowdies players with a passing accuracy over 80% (with at least 20 passes completed).

Forward: Georgi Hristov, Tampa Bay Rowdies: 3031 pts

Hristov’s PK goal in the 57th minute was all it took for Tampa Bay to knock off in-state rivals, Orlando City B, and earn their first official win in the USL. Accounting for nearly a third of Tampa’s 21 shots, Hristov proved to be a crucial part of the Rowdies offense.

Forward: Corey Hertzog, Pittsburgh Riverhounds: 4454 pts

Hertzog netted a brace against the defending champs on Saturday and led the Riverhounds in shots with six. While a missed penalty and a yellow card in the second half may have cost him our Player of the Week honors, Hertzog still put forth a stunning performance.

Forward: Ryan Telfer, Toronto FC II: 2922 pts

Telfer’s early goal against Phoenix Rising was enough to seal all three points for the Ontario club in the duel in the desert. Telfer provided a jump start to the season for what could be a low key dangerous club in the Eastern Conference.

Forward: Florian Valot, New York Red Bulls II, 2745 pts

Valot scored the first goal of the Eastern Conference this season, in the sixth minute of a 3-3 draw against Pittsburgh. Leading NYRB II in shots with four, Valot established himself as an offensive force to be reckoned with on the league’s reigning champs.

Honorable Mentions

Forward: Kevin Kerr, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, 2555 pts

Midfielder: Fred Owusu Sekyere,Richmond Kickers, 2665 pts

Defender: Neill Collins, Tampa Bay Rowdies, 2603 pts

Goalkeeper: Devela Gorrick, Saint Louis FC, 3500 pts

Final Thoughts

Defense has been known to win championships — just ask Rochester. In keeping with this, three of the top five players this week came from defensive oriented positions. All of those players - Worra, Lasso, and Shanosky - scored over 4000 points this week. Being an effective player on both sides has quickly shown to be key for defenders in our first Best XI.

Corey Hertzog and Georgi Hristov laid the groundwork for what could be a very exciting offensive showdown. Both are tied for second in the USL in shots with six each. The pair of attackers from NYRB II, Florian Valot and Vincent Bezecourt, sit not far behind, and could potentially make this a four player race for the top.

Tampa Bay lead the conference in most players named to the Team of the Week with three. Richmond, Charleston, and NYRB II had two players each included this week. With the rest of the Eastern Conference beginning season play this weekend, it will be interesting to see if the same clubs find their way back into the Team of the Week.

What do you think of the week one Best XI for the Eastern Conference? Which players who were not listed do you think most deserved a spot among the best of week one? Is there any player who stood out to you? Let us know in the comments below!