As we await the release of the 2016 USL schedule today, we have also learned that Rob Vincent will start the preseason in sunny Florida.
In 2015, Pittsburgh Riverhounds and its fans could not get enough of Vincent, who had a breakout season. The midfielder from Liverpool, England, scored 21 goals in all competitions, earning USL First Team honors and was named team MVP in his third season in Pittsburgh.
After the Riverhounds season ended with playoff loss at NY Red Bulls II, Vincent had a trial with DC United of Major League Soccer. That first go-round with the United went well for Vincent, and coach Ben Olsen must have liked Vincent enough, as he is returning to train with the United in Bradenton, Florida for their preseason camp as the United are looking for depth in their midfield.
Due to financial restraints, MLS teams tend to not sign those brought in for trial who are already signed to contracts by lower division teams. At the very least, Vincent, who is still under contract by the Riverhounds, can still use this opportunity to continue to showcase his talents, durability and versatility.
While he had an outstanding season in 2015 in terms of his goal scoring production, and is dangerous threat from distance, Vincent is also an excellent defensive midfielder, can play in a variety of positions and his fitness is top-rate, rarely leaving the field while playing much of the season on the flank. Having watched his work-ethic first hand, I can tell you that Vincent is the epitome of a guy who’s worked hard for his accomplishments. It seemed as if he was always the first player that comes out of the locker room on the field warming up and preparing before games.
Maybe a knock against him would be his size and speed that you see that is so valued and commonplace at the next level. If you may recall, the United had their way with the Riverhounds in their US Open Cup match in June in the box scoring all of their goals from set pieces, proving to be the difference in the 3-1 overtime victory over Pittsburgh.
Still, Vincent’s versatility has to be something that appeals to Olsen (and other MLS scouts), who’s dealing with a midfield that’s in transition.
Having depth on MLS rosters, during the rigors of a long season that include Cup and other competitions, is something MLS coaches and sporting directors are always striving to attain.
As previously stated, MLS teams don’t make a regular practice to sign players brought in on trial from lower divisions, but you never know what can happen. Vincent brings a lot of things to the table and could be a good fit in Olsen’s system.
There’s no doubt in my mind, regardless of what happens in his trial with the United, Vincent will make the most of his opportunity.