4 Rough Riders on United Soccer Coaches Players to Watch List

Written by Michael Lewis

Do the Long Island Rough Riders know talent?

Yes, they do.

Of the 46 USL League Two players that were selected as players to watch in college soccer this fall by the United Soccer Coaches, four hail from the Rough Riders.

That is pretty darn impressive for a league that has 114 clubs.

The United Soccer Coaches list included goalkeeper Wessel Speel (Hofstra University), defenders Luke McNamara (Seattle University) and Bjarne Thiesen (West Virginia University) and forward Ryan Carmichael (Hofstra University).

Speel backstopped a team that was difficult to beat in the back as he logged a 1.39 goals-against average in regular season play. He conceded only 14 goals in 13 appearances over 904 minutes. The 6-7, 200-lb. Speel, a Dutch native, came off a superb 2021 season, helping the Pride reach the NCAA Division I third round of the tournament, with a 0.90 GAA. He will enter his junior season this fall.

Playing in front of Speel was a talented backline that boasted Thiesen, one of the most reliable Riders players (12 games), and McNamara. The 6-7, 200-lb. Thiesen, who calls Kiel, Germany home, will be a junior at WVU this fall. He was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America third team in 2021. McNamara, who calls South Huntington, N.Y. his home, performed four years at Fordham University. He will be a graduate student at Seattle.

Carmichael, who finished with 13 goals (10 in the regular season, three in the playoffs), turned out to be one of the league’s most dangerous finishers as he formed a lethal partnership up front with former Hofstra standout Matthew Vowinkel. Carmichael, who found the net 15 times in 2021, will be a junior this Colonial Athletic Association. season.

And we wouldn’t be surprised if there were others that almost made the cut, given the season the team recently completed.

Long Island finished second in the Metropolitan Division with a 16-2-2 – those 16 wins was a team record at the amateur level before going on a magical run in the playoffs. Playing all five matches on the road, the Rough Riders won their first four games to qualify for the championship game.

The Rough Riders (16-2-2) reached the League Two final for the first time in its history, losing to the Ventura County Fusion in Ventura, Calif. on Aug. 6.

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