To preface this blog post, I am not from Wisconsin and I am not from the Midwest. My name is Tom, I am from New York and my favorite USL League One team is Forward Madison. Who are Forward Madison? Are you living under a rock?! Forward Madison is one of the inaugural USL League One clubs and have taken the U.S. soccer Twitter-verse by STORM! The team was founded in 2018 and will play this season at Breese Stevens Field. The team will be led by Head Coach Daryl Shore who has experience on the MLS level as an assistant (Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake) and was a Head Coach for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL. But going further up than the Head Coach, Forward Madison is in good hands as the General Manager of the team is Peter Wilt. If you are not familiar with Wilt, he has worked within the Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Admirals, Milwaukee Wave, Chicago Fire, Chicago Red Stars, Chicago Riot, Indy Eleven, and now Forward Madison and Green Bay Voyageurs FC (Madison’s League Two affiliate).
Outside of a beautiful mid-western state, a newly renovated field, a Head Coach with MLS experience, and a GM with multiple sport experience… Forward Madison has put together a roster filled with some nice names! The biggest name that jumps out at me is probably the biggest guy on the field, 6’5 goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre. Sylvestre comes to Madison after a 2018 season he spent with the LA Galaxy. He also comes over with MLS experience at the Vancouver Whitecaps (2011-2012) and the Philadelphia Union (2015). Sylvestre really made a name for himself while at North Carolina FC (2015-2017) where he made close to 50 appearances for the club. He will be leaned upon to be a leader on the field and in the locker room. Now speaking of that defense, Madison has signed some guys who have something to prove. First lets talk about Mexican right-back Christian Diaz. Diaz has Liga MX experience playing for Atlas from (2009-2014), though he was never truly able to stay in Liga MX he is now in Madison looking to get back to that Atlas level of play. The other defender that stands out to me on this roster is center-back Connor Tobin. Tobin has a ton of experience as he played in the USL and NASL since 2011. Tobin has played on back-lines for the Rochester Rhinos (2011), Minnesota United (2012-2013), and North Carolina FC (2014-2018). I expect a big year from Tobin… potentially as team captain?
Every good defense needs a midfield to help connect the field and Forward Madison has three midfielders that I think are true game changers. Lets take a look at the loanee from Minnesota United FC, Tanzanian midfielder Ally Hamis Ng’Anzi. Ng’Anzi is 18 years old and could be a diamond in the rough for Madison. He comes over as an energetic box-to-box midfielder who has lead the Tanzanian U17, U20, and U23 teams. He could be a guy to watch out for later in his career, featuring for Tanzania, and playing in the African Cup of Nations. Next, I think we have to take a dive in on another loanee, Josiel Nunez. Nunez is a Panamanian international who has 14 caps for Panama since 2014. He comes over on loan from Universitario who play in the top tier in Panama where he had 12 appearances last season. Nunez is a guy who will lead an attack, push up with speed, and has proven in the past he can score against tough opposition (Nicaragua’s National Team and Trinidad and Tobago’s National Team). Finally, I have to go to a NASL veteran and a guy who can really be a vocal person in the locker room, Don Smart. Smart is a 31-year-old Jamaican who has dominated in the U.S.’s lower divisions. Smart was with the Indy Eleven for the main part of his career making almost 100 appearances for the club. I feel that he could pair up nicely with Nunez and have them wreak havoc upon opposing back-lines.
What good is a defense or a midfield is you don’t have guys who can score the rock? Minnesota have two forwards that I am excited to see play for them. First, Paulo Jr. who played his 2018 season with Penn FC. Paulo Jr score 4 goals last season for Penn FC which may not seem like a lot but I feel he could translate that into almost 10 goals going down a division. He has experience scoring goals in the NASL for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, scoring USL goals with the Ottawa Fury, and MLS goals with Real Salt Lake. He now brings all of that with him to a new club and a fun fan base. He also will have a forward partner in J.C. Banks that could help him out as well! Banks is a native to the Madison area and could have a nice little bump playing for his hometown club. Banks scored 8 goals in the NPSL for the Jacksonville Armada the past two seasons. He is in his prime, he is back home, and he has proven in his past he knows how to get the ball in the net (look at his time with the Rochester Rhinos). I like the idea of Banks and Paulo Jr. together a lot!
This team has been built well from front office to players, this team has a community of support and some money backing the club which never hurts. But let’s go back to the title of this post… What Does It Mean To Go Full Mingo? To go Full Mingo it means that you are rocking your pink and blue tee shirts proudly! It means that you are ready to grab that plastic lawn flamingo out from your front yard, get in your car, and go scream on your team! It means, that no matter what, you know that you have the support of Forward nation from SEA TO SHINNING SEA! I love Forward Madison, I may give them some crap from time to time, but I love them. The team has the best social media in the game, the best mascot in the game, and the undying support of every soccer fan in the United States.
So if you don’t know who Forward Madison are… now you know.