Legion FC is set to open its 2021 season on May 1 against USL Central Division opponent Indy Eleven.
After an early exit in the USL playoffs in 2020, the squad is poised to make a deep run at the end of the season.
Here are some key members of the Boys in Black that will look to serve the squad to the best of their ability in the team’s third season.
Offensive Impact Player: Neco Brett, Forward
Brett burst onto the scene with Legion FC last year, scoring nine goals in 17 appearances, good for best on the team. Before joining the Boys in Black, the Jamaican’s career took off with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, as he scored 32 goals and added 17 assists in 70 games over the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He was named USL Championship Player of the Week three times in two years and made the 2019 USL Championship All-League Second Team while helping the Riverhounds earn a USL Eastern Conference Regular Season Championship.
Defensive Impact Player: Jonathan Dean, Defender
Dean tallied one goal and five assists for the Legion in 2020. As the quickest member of the defensive backline, he is capable of exploding down the right wing with his impressive pace. Additionally, Dean is cautious and skilled on defense, as he finished the 2020 season with zero cards.
Newcomer of the Year: Ryan James, Defender
Legion fans are already quite familiar with James, as he rocketed home a preseason goal from nearly 30 yards out in a pre-season friendly with USL League One side Chattanooga Red Wolves FC. The Canadian found loads of success with top-tier USL side Pittsburgh and will look to continue his impressive form throughout the regular season.
Most Improved: Jake Rufe, Defender
Rufe made 11 appearances as a rookie in the Legion’s shortened 2020 season and racked up 13 clearances, 12 interceptions, 10 tackles and three blocks in 560 total minutes of action. Rufe appeared both shaky and nervous in the early portions of the 2020 season, but found his footing and became a solid center or outside back toward the end of the year. Look for Rufe to stand firm and play stout defense in his second year of professional soccer.
MVP Prediction: Junior Flemmings, Forward
Although loads of controversy surround Flemmings due to the homophobic slur he uttered in a 2020 USL regular season match while playing for Phoenix Rising, the Jamaican national team standout has since apologized and has found great form in preseason play. He has scored multiple goals on offense in friendlies and looks to be in top form. The 25-year-old has multiple awards to his name, including the 2020 USL Golden Boot. The Junior Flemmings/Birmingham experiment is one that will hopefully pay off for Legion FC administration, players, fans and Flemmings himself.
Gunnar Sadowey is the sports editor for the Crimson. He is a senior from Elkhart, IN. Gunnar is currently a journalism and mass communications major with a print concentration and a German minor.