WILMINGTON — What local soccer fans are starting to see is that the product put on the field over the past few years as part of the now defunct Wilmington Hammerheads FC — from a coaching and talent standpoint — has been rich.
Former player and coach Mark Briggs’ announced his departure from the Port City not long after the season ended. He will serve as an assistant with the Real Salt Lake organization. Likewise, other key players who once suited up for the blue and white are landing on their feet both here and abroad.
Hammerheads 2016 center back Bruno Perone has since inked a deal with Kerala Blasters FC of the Indian Super League (ISL). Corben Bone, Paul Nicholson and Casey Townsend are all under contract with FC Cincinnati of the United Soccer League.
After being released by Wilmington heading into the 2016 regular season, Bone and Nicholson were picked up by FC Cincinnati. Bone was voted his team’s Most Valuable Player for 2016. He played in all 30 USL fixtures and tied for first with five assists.
Nicholson made over 100 appearances for the Hammerheads during his time in the Port City. He played in 22 contests for FC Cincinnati this year, scoring a goal against his former club from Wilmington.
Townsend transferred from the Hammerheads to Cincinnati during a late-season acquisition. He scored a key goal for FC Cincinnati against Orlando City B to solidify a home playoff berth for the club.
Former player and coach, Matt Gleaser, has joined Briggs as an assistant for Real Monarchs of the United Soccer League. The Monarchs are under the umbrella of Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake.
While some soccer products continue to play within the professional ranks, Justin Moose, who finished a 10-year career following the conclusion of the Hammerheads final season, is staying local. He’s launching a new training program in coordination with Wilmington Hammerheads Youth FC.
The developmental program will be focused on helping young players master the fundamentals of the game and increase their confidence with the ball.
“I’m excited to launch this program because I believe I can help the players in our club and in our community become better soccer players,” Moose said.
Moose, 33, made stops all over the world throughout his career, which included time spent in the United States, Canada, Finland and Thailand.
A first round pick by DC United in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, Moose is known in soccer circles throughout the country for his head-shaking technical and creative ability on the ball.
“My career has been unique in that I have seen the game in different parts at the world and played under some experienced coaches in various styles,” he said. “I have taken small pieces from every place I have been and built a curriculum that I believe will help individual players improve.”
Moose finished his career as a member of the Wilmington Hammerheads and spent the past two years as a coach in the Hammerheads Youth Club.
“We are very excited to help and support Justin’s launch of Moose Soccer,” said WHYFC Executive Director, Carson Porter “I’m not sure if people realize what a special talent Justin Moose is. He was an NCAA first-team All-American, a member of the U.S. U-20 National Team, and a player that is mentioned when people talk about some of the most technical players our country has ever produced.
“As we work to improve our club, improving our players is the first and most important area that we discuss. Moose Soccer will improve each and every player that joins this program,” Porter said.
The new training program will be offered beginning January 2017 and will be held at the Capelli Center – Wilmington Hammerheads Youth FC indoor facility and home office. For details, log onto https://www.moosesoccer.net/.