As Mississippi Brilla fielded division championship teams from 2009-2011, a characteristic of those teams was the ability to retain key players from year to year. The 9th year Premier Development League team believes it is on pace to surpass the success of those previous teams with the signing of a number of veterans. The first of those commitments, pending USL approval, are defenders Cedric Muteshi and Dustin Ashley. Also among the first group of returning players to be announced is forward Lucas Almeida and midfielder Tom Gavin.
“We wanted to give our new coach, Mark McKeever, lots of freedom to bring in new players that fit into his style of play,” said Executive Director Rusty Bryant. “However, we know the importance of bringing back players that are familiar with our organization. We discussed a few key pieces with Coach Mark early in the recruiting process, and it looks like we are getting all of them back.”
Muteshi, currently the Assistant Women’s Coach at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, will be returning to Mississippi for a third season. The Kenya native was one of the top defenders for Brilla in 2013, wearing the captain’s armband for much of the season. The 2014 campaign was a bit more disappointing for the former University of the Cumberlands standout as a lingering injury limited him to very few minutes on the field.
Gavin, currently competing at Palm Beach Atlantic University, is also returning for his third season. The team MVP in 2013, the England native has been the heart and soul of the squad since first stepping on the pitch for Brilla in 2013.
Almeida arrived in 2014 after a successful college career at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. He proved to be one of Mississippi’s top performers with 3 goals and an assist. The crafty Brazilian has spent the winter months playing in the professional indoor league with the Tulsa Revolution.
Ashley was the steal of the 2014 class as he earned a starting spot on the back line. Ashley was arguably the MVP of last season, starting all fourteen games and logging 1260 minutes. The defender from Wisconsin recently completed his Junior season at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“These four are just the tip of the iceberg for a pretty exciting signing class,” noted Bryant. “We are looking forward to getting things kicked off in May.”
Mississippi Brilla will open its season on the road in Laredo, TX before returning home to host the Panama City Pirates on May 29. All home games are played at Clinton High School’s Arrow Field. Tickets are on sale.