USL News Release
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
TAMPA, FL – United Soccer Leagues announced Wednesday the USL First Division Statistical Awards for the 2007 season, honoring the Scoring Champion, Goal Scoring Champion, Assist Leader and GAA Champion.
Picking up two honors was Atlanta Silverbacks striker Dan Antoniuk, who used an early season barrage and a midseason spurt in scoring to build and maintain his status as the league leader in points and assists to win the Scoring Championship and Assist Leader honors with 23 points and nine assists.
Antoniuk, who finished tied for seventh in the league in goals with seven, started the season off with a bang, recording three goals and five assists in the first seven games. He tallied a pair of goals in the 2-2 opener against Montreal, then two assists in a 3-1 win over Minnesota in his busy start. A four-game pointless run then saw a midseason run of three goals and three assists over a six-game span before the well dried up for the second half of the season as he went the final 12 games with just one goal and one assist.
It proved enough as Antoniuk finished one point ahead of Seattle’s Sebastien Le Toux, and two in front of Seattle’s Roger Levesque, Portland’s Andrew Gregor and Montreal’s Charles Gbeke. He also beat out Seattle’s Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar by just one in the assist table.
Antoniuk is the second Assist Leader in the history of the league to capture the Scoring Championship without also winning the Goal Scoring Championship, an honor that was shared by Le Toux and Gbeke with 10 goals on the year. Wolde Harris was the only player to previously accomplish the feat, playing for the Colorado Foxes in 1996.
Le Toux, the co-Goal Scoring Champion, made his debut with the Sounders four games into the season and scored his first goal in the following match, a 2-2 draw on the road against rival Portland. His speed proved a dangerous weapon for the Sounders and Le Toux was critical in their campaign to capture the Commissioner’s Cup as the regular season champion, registering six game-winners on the season – five of them in 1-0 decisions. He capped the season with a hat-trick in the next to last game of the season to move into the tie for the league lead.
Similar to Le Toux, Gbeke’s goals were spread throughout his first campaign with the Impact for the share of the Goal Scoring Championship. Four of his strikes came against his former Rochester Rhinos side late in the season as he scored four of the team’s five goals in the first three of their four meetings, directly contributing to every goal in their 1-0, 2-0 and 2-0 wins.
Josh Wicks captured the GAA Championship for the league’s lowest goals against average at 0.603 for the season while leading the Timbers, who finished tied for last in 2006, to a second-place finish. Having lost his shot at the starting position in Vancouver, and with former Timber netminder Josh Saunders moving to Puerto Rico, Wicks made the move south to join rival Portland and proved an immediate success as the club made the miraculous turnaround.
Wicks gave up just 16 goals in 27 games played and only missed a game and a half due to a knee injury suffered on the road. Back-up Bayard Elfvin would finish their 1-0 shutout win in Atlanta before falling 2-0 in Charleston the following night in Wicks place. Despite the missed time, he finished the season with the most minutes played in goal in the league (2,385).
Wicks finished the campaign with a league leading 14 shutouts on the year with a record of 13-4-9 and had a pair of four-game shutout streaks during the season.