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6 CFC players named to NISA Best XI teams

By Staff, 11/16/22, 12:00PM EST


CHICAGO – The National Independent Soccer Association announced its 2022 Best XI as voted on by league head coaches, in collaboration with league partner QuestionPro. Cal United Strikers FC (three selections) and Chattanooga FC (three selections) dominated the premier squad, demonstrating why they finished nos. 1 and 2 in the regular season.

"We are very proud to unveil this list of players – each of whom had extraordinary seasons," says Commissioner John Prutch. "These are never easy calls to make, as there were so many great performances throughout 2022. But that only shows the depth of talent in this league, as well as the skill every player is putting on display in support of club and community."

The 2022 NISA Best XI are:

Jean Antoine, GK, Cal United Strikers FC – Recipient of the 2022 NISA Golden Glove scored 12 clean sheets in 16 matches

Alioune Diakhate, F, ALBION San Diego – Runner-up for the 2022 NISA Golden Boot, scored 12 in 20 matches and distributed four assists

Darwin Espinal, F, Maryland Bobcats FC – Finished third in the goal-scoring race, netting 10 to go with four assists

Taylor Gray, F, Chattanooga FC – Scored six goals and posted two assists while leading the league in minutes played with 2,109

Markus Naglestad, F, Chattanooga FC – Winner of both the 2002 NISA Golden Boot and Golden Ball, led the league with 19 goals and five assists in 23 appearances

Omar Nuño, F, Cal United Strikers FC – Was third most efficient scorer in the league finding the back of the net every 137 minutes

Minjae Kwak, M, Syracuse Pulse – Four goals and an assist on the scoresheet, but impact came from starting scoring plays deeper in the field

Alex McGrath, M, Chattanooga FC – Consistently in the mix while scoring five goal and assisting on three others

Matt Constant, D, Michigan Stars FC – Started and played in all 22 regular season matches for the second-stingiest defense in the league

Garrett Hogbin, D, Cal United Strikers FC – Tallied 1,261 minutes anchoring the league’s top- rated defense

Vasil Zhongo, D, Michigan Stars FC – Co-led defenders with five goals while playing a key role on the club’s lock-down D

The 2022 NISA Second Team includes:

Tatenda Mkuruva, GK, Michigan Stars FC – Golden Glove runner up recorded 11 regular season shutouts

Kaleb Jackson, F, Syracuse Pulse – Scored eight goals in 17 matches

Jonathan Firmino, D, Michigan Stars FC – Second-leading defensive scorer on vaunted back line

Franky Martinez, D, Chattanooga FC – Logged second-most minutes on defense and posted two assists

Edwin Rivas, D, Los Angeles Force – Most efficient defensive goal scorer with five in 967 minutes

Ian Cerro, M, Chattanooga FC – Scored four goals and notched two assists for highest- scoring offense

Richard Dixon, M, Chattanooga FC – Played the role of heart of the club tied for largest goal differential (23)

Manuel Gonzalez, M, Maryland Bobcats FC – In 22 matches, acted as playmaker for a club that scored 32 goals

Steven Juncaj, M, Michigan Stars FC – The engine of the club, scored three goals and handed out five assists in 19 matches

Tony Lopez, M, Cal United Strikers FC – In only 14 matches, generated seven goals and three assists

Walter Varela, M, ALBION San Diego – Contributed three goals and four assists for the eventual runners-up

About NISA
The National Independent Soccer Association was founded in 2017 with a mission to bring professional soccer to every city in the United States. A pro league member of U.S. Soccer, NISA focuses on a model based on meritocracy, independent clubs controlling their own league, clubs owning their intellectual property, all without the barrier of territorial rights. A member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, NISA also runs the mid-summer Independent Cup, open to independent professional and amateur clubs alike. 

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