Teams in the Premier Development League are accustomed to seeing new faces year after year. 2016 will be no different for Mississippi Brilla FC as the 10th year PDL franchise is expected to welcome a host of new players as they look to defend their MidSouth Division Championship. However, success is often contingent on the stability and experience that returning players bring to a team, and Brilla is excited to welcome back two key components from its successful 2015 squad.
Midfielder Eduardo Cruz will be returning for a third season with the Clinton based team. Cruz, a native of Brazil, was a part of the 2013 roster and then returned in 2015 as a leader for Coach Mark McKeever’s first season. Cruz had a highly decorated college career at Belhaven University in Jackson, MS, leading the school to the NAIA National Championship in 2012. Cruz was also named 2nd Team All-American as a Senior in 2014.
"Eduardo was the first player I had asked to return to Brilla and the first player to commit his summer,” said McKeever. "The reason for this is I believe he will be a leader on and off the field. I will look to Eduardo to set the highest standard possible and use his experience to help others around him. I believe Eduardo is a professional level player. His talent on the ball combined with his work ethic and experience are going to be valuable components to the success of our team this summer."
Santiago, Chile native Ignacio Flores also returns after a successful stint with Brilla in 2015. Flores proved vital to the success of the team last season, filling a number of roles from the back line through the midfield. Flores’ play earned him a spot on the first PDL Top 50 Watch List last summer.
"When I heard that Ignacio was considering returning to Brilla I was ecstatic,” said McKeever. "He is such a well rounded player and person and I have no issue announcing that he will be a captain and leader of this team along with Eduardo Cruz. ‘Nacho' is a player that has potential to be a professional footballer in my eyes. He is a player that can literally play anywhere on the field and provide a high level. He has great drive and a huge winning mentality. Nacho was the teams most consistent performer last year and I am confident that he will set great standards for this team being able to do the simple things at the very highest level."
Flores recently completed his Senior season at Park University where he was named American Midwest All-Conference. He anchored a defense that had a +37 scoring margin, and he also added 7 goals and 2 assists.
Mississippi Brilla FC opens its PDL season with a home contest against Peachtree City on May 14. Home matches will be played at Clinton’s Traceway Park.
(Both players' registrations are pending league approval.)