TAMPA, Fla. – USL League One today announced the Team of the Week for Week 12 of the 2023 regular season with Lexington SC forward Ates Diouf named Player of the Week presented by Konami eFootball with his two-goal performance in Lexington’s 2-2 draw with Northern Colorado. Diouf helps Lexington become the first team this season to earn three Player of the Week honors (Owen Green, Week 5; Amal Knight, Week 9).
Following Northern Colorado’s early opener less than five minutes into the contest, Diouf nearly leveled the match with a neat dribble and shot that was denied by an outstretched Lalo Delgado in goal. Just ten minutes later, though, Diouf did find the opener, cashing in on a perfect Jalen James through ball, dribbling around Delgado and tapping in the equalizer.
In the second half, another perfectly weighted ball from Charlie Machell found a streaking Diouf who netted his second of the evening to knot the score at two apiece. Culminating in a dramatic finish, Diouf seemingly sent in the match-winning goal to confirm his first career hat trick in the seventh minute of stoppage time, but the goal was disallowed due to Diouf's offside positioning.
"It means a lot to me to be named Player of the Week,” Diouf said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to play with such great teammates and having a coaching staff that believes in me and helps me a lot, without them this would not be possible. I look forward to continuing to improve my game."
The Dakar, Senegal native made his professional debut in USL League One with Orlando City B in 2019 before moving on to the USL Championship with Austin Bold FC in 2020 and 2021 and eventually claiming a USL Championship title with San Antonio FC in 2022. Diouf returned to League One as a member of Lexington SC’s inaugural roster where he’s currently tied for the team lead with three goal contributions through the first 10 matches in club history.
"We are all really pleased with Ates' performance,” Head Coach Sam Stockley said. “He is a wonderful player and a wonderful person. He's been electric in training over the last couple of weeks, and we've all seen on a daily basis the types of goals he can score. We're pleased to see that come out on Saturday and look forward to him scoring many more goals."
Charlotte’s three-goal victory over Omaha fittingly sees the Jacks place a week-high three starters on the Team of the Week, while Lexington and Northern Colorado see two starters on the Team of the Week following the pair’s 2-2 draw. Six of the 12 clubs in action in Week 12 place multiple representatives on the Team of the Week and Team of the Week bench.
GK – Austin Pack, Charlotte Independence: Pack built on his league-leading 48 saves and six clean sheets with a five-save, shutout performance in Charlotte’s big win against Omaha.
D – Nelson Flores Blanco, North Carolina FC: The El Salvador international helped North Carolina to a shutout victory over Knoxville with his seven duels won, four recoveries, three tackles won, two blocks and two clearances.
D – Kaelon Fox, Lexington SC: Lexington’s inaugural signing was integral to the expansion side’s impressive draw against Northern Colorado. Fox completed 94% of his 69 passes and 80% of his long balls, gathered 10 recoveries, and won seven of his eight duels.
D – Deshawon Nembhard, South Georgia Tormenta FC: The Belize international was productive along Tormenta FC’s backline, completing 88% of his 76 passes and 10 long balls, winning six duels, recording five clearances and winning two fouls.
D – Bruno Rendón, Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC: With the highest expected-goals mark and most goals added for defenders, according to American Soccer analysis, the Cuban defender notched his first Hailstorm goal. Rendón also tallied a trio of clearances, recoveries and tackles to go along with six duels won.
D – Arthur Rogers, Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC: The reigning Defender of the Year proved productive once more, helping the Hailstorm earn a point on the road with his 10 duels won, a week-high five tackles won, four recoveries, three interceptions, two chances created and two blocks.
M – Alexis Cerritos, Central Valley Fuego FC: Off to the best start to a season in his young professional career, Cerritos both won and converted the match-winning penalty to confirm Fuego FC’s shock upset over Forward Madison FC. Cerritos added to his outing with a combined nine duels and tackles won, four recoveries and two dribbles completed.
M – Joel Johnson, Charlotte Independence: After recently becoming the Independence’s all-time appearances leader, Johnson scored his second goal of the season in match-winning fashion early in the contest. The former Liberia international also completed 83% of his passes, created a pair of chances and registered two clearances.
M – Tresor Mbuyu, Charlotte Independence: After a career-best 11-goal 2022 season, the Congolese attacker is starting to find his form again. Mbuyu bagged his third goal in as many matches in Charlotte’s victory over Omaha, adding six recoveries, five duels won and three interceptions.
F – Christian Chaney, Forward Madison FC: In the first meeting with his former club, the native Fresnan bagged a goal, won nine duels, completed four dribbles, won three fouls and created two chances.
F – Ates Diouf, Lexington SC: Diouf’s second career brace served as the first in Lexington SC history and helped the first-year side to an impressive 2-2 draw with Northern Colorado. Diouf also won 10 duels, completed six dribbles, earned six recoveries and registered a 1.07 goals-added figure – the most on the week, according to American Soccer Analysis.
Bench: Jared Mazzola (GVL), Simon Fitch (RIC), Billy King (NCO), Jaden Servania (NC), Kazaiah Sterling (TRM), Emiliano Terzaghi (RIC)