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USL Top Five – Best Irish Players

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/17/17, 2:02PM EDT


The Emerald Isle has produced some gems for USL clubs

The USL has seen its fair share of international standouts carve out a place in the league’s history. In fact, 72 different countries were represented during the 2016 USL season, with players from Antigua & Barbuda to Zimbabwe and many others in between competing in the league last year.

Among the wide range of nationalities represented, players from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have had a strong influence in the league’s history. For St. Patrick’s Day, here are our Top 5 in the league’s history.

Photo courtesy Em-Dash Photography / Louisville City FC

No. 5 – Niall McCabe, Louisville City FC

A native of Dublin, McCabe arrived in the United States to compete at Young Harris College and then turned professional with Louisville for its inaugural season in 2015. McCabe has gone on to make 48 appearances, recording six goals and five assists to achieve remarkable success in each of the club’s first two seasons. As he enters his third year Louisville, McCabe’s influence will continue to be felt at Slugger Field and around the rest of the league.

No. 4 – Danny Earls, Pittsburgh Riverhounds

A key figure for both the Rochester Rhinos and Pittsburgh Riverhounds over the past five seasons, Earls has recorded 113 appearances in the USL, and was an All-League selection in 2013 for the Rochester Rhinos. An MLS Cup winner in 2010 with the Colorado Rapids, Earls has recorded nine goals and 16 assists in his time in the league, with maybe the most memorable of his tallies coming in the Riverhounds’ legendary 6-5 comeback victory in the Keystone Derby Cup clash with the Harrisburg City Islanders in 2015.

Photo courtesy Chris Cowger / Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Photo courtesy Orlando City SC

No. 3 – James O’Connor, Orlando City SC

Before he marshalled the sidelines for Louisville City FC, the native of Dublin helped the Lions on the field for three seasons to end a stellar professional career. O’Connor brought experience from the likes of Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday with him to the United States, and helped Orlando claim the 2012 USL Regular Season Championship, and the 2013 USL Cup. O’Connor made 41 appearances for the Lions before departing midway through the 2014 season to take his first head coaching position in Louisville, which has earned back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals in the USL Cup Playoffs in the club’s first two seasons.

No. 2 – Tommy Stewart, Sac. Republic FC

Stewart joined Republic FC ahead of its inaugural season in 2014 from Shamrock Rovers after twice winning the Irish Premier League with Linfield and the League of Ireland with Rovers. Stewart had an immediate impact in Sacramento’s debut in the USL, leading the team with 11 goals in the regular season and finding the net in the USL Cup Final victory against Harrisburg to cap a dream season. Stewart recorded 46 regular-season appearances for Republic FC, notching 15 goals and five assists, before joining Ottawa Fury FC midway through the 2016 season.

Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC

Photo courtesy Charleston Battery

No. 1 Colin Falvey – Charleston Battery

The Cork native had played previously for Wilmington Hammerheads FC in 2009, but it was with the Battery that Falvey burnished his reputation as one of the top defenders in the USL during the first four seasons of the league’s history. Falvey made 94 regular-season appearances for the Battery, recording seven goals and three assists, and it was his role as captain for the club’s 2012 USL Cup-winning squad that pushed him to the forefront. In 2013, he was named USL Defender of the Year, adding to two USL All-League selections, before he departed the Low Country in 2014 to play in the India Super League for the Kerala Blasters. Since then, he has continued to thrive, first with Ottawa Fury FC in 2015, and currently with Indy Eleven.

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