TAMPA, Fla. – USL League One today announced the Team of the Week for Week 23 of the 2023 regular season with South Georgia Tormenta FC forward Kazaiah Sterling named Player of the Week presented by Konami eFootball with his sixth career brace in South Georgia's 4-2 victory over Madison.
Sterling started the match by drawing in a pair of Madison defenders to force an own-goal equalizer off a Jackson Khoury cross into the box. After falling behind once more, Sterling found South Georgia's equalizer in the 49th minute via a coolly finished penalty kick. Sterling confirmed the Ibis victory with his eighth match-winning goal for Tormenta FC, dispossessing a 'Mingo defender before slotting home a calm, far-post finish.
Already confirmed as Tormenta FC’s all-time leading scorer across all competitions after just a season and a half in Statesboro, Sterling’s productivity has positioned him as the league’s current all-time leader in goals and assists per 90 minutes across the regular season and playoffs at 1.01 (min. four matches).
"I'm grateful for the recognition, and I feel like it’s a positive reflection of the hard work the team and staff put into this week’s win," Sterling said.
"On Saturday, Kaz captained the team and demonstrated why with his performance," Tormenta FC Head Coach Ian Cameron said. "He directly contributed to three of the goals and also recovered the ball for the team on numerous occasions. If he maintains that level over the final stretch, our attack will be hard to contain."
Week 23 victories for Charlotte, Knoxville, North Carolina and South Georgia, see the quartet place multiple representatives on the Team of the Week. In total, nine of the 23 teams in action see representation on the Team of the Week or Team of the Week bench.
GK - Lalo Delgado, Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC: Delgado recorded his ninth clean sheet of the season - tied for the league lead - in his side’s scoreless draw with Greenville on Saturday. The first-year Hailstorm 'keeper was statistically the most effective shot-stopper in Week 23, according to American Soccer Analysis, and completed 87% of his passes.
D - Jalen Crisler, One Knoxville SC: Crisler tallied his second helper of the season on Friday, assisting Angelo Kelly-Rosales' match-winning score to help Knoxville down Barrel Brawl rival Lexington. Crisler won five duels, four recoveries and tallied four clearances, and across his three-year professional career has helped his teams to a 4-0-3 record when recording a goal contribution.
D - Angelo Kelly-Rosales, One Knoxville SC: Scoreless in his first 139 professional matches, Kelly-Rosales has enjoyed increased production since scoring his first career goal on July 11. The Honduran bagged the match-winning score against rival Lexington SC and added five duels won, five recoveries and four clearances.
D - Nick Spielman, Charlotte Independence: Spielman helped the Jacks to a 2-1 victory in Fresno with a strong defensive outing highlighted by his 11 clearances, seven recoveries, five duels won and an 89% passing accuracy. Second in the league with his 113 clearances, Spielman has contributed a full 90 minutes for the Jacks in 22 consecutive matches and has played the fourth-most minutes across the league (2,105) this season.
M - Mukwelle Akale, South Georgia Tormenta FC: More than doubling the production from his previous most productive season (2022), Akale recorded the fourth multi-goal-contribution match of his club career and third of the season. In his second consecutive one-goal, one-assist match, Akale added three recoveries, two chances created and one duel won in Tormenta FC’s big win over Madison.
M - Mikey Maldonado, North Carolina FC: In addition to hammering in his first goal for the club to seal NCFC’s first victory at Richmond since 2018, Maldonado won five recoveries, completed five long balls, created a pair of chances, and won two duels, all while completed over 88% of his passes.
M - Jaden Servania, North Carolina FC: The Puerto Rico international has been a solid contributor on a talent-laden midfield group in Cary this season and recorded his second assist of the season on Oalex Anderson’s opening score. Servania also tallied five duels won, five completed crosses, three recoveries, two tackles won and a week-high five chances created.
M - Nil Vinyals, Richmond Kickers: Vinyals produced his third consecutive match with an assist, helping Simon Fitch open the scoring for Richmond late in its match against North Carolina. The Spanish midfielder won six duels, completed four long passes, created three chances and completed nearly 90% of his 41 passes.
F - Oalex Anderson, North Carolina FC: Enjoying a career season in Cary, Anderson’s seventh career brace propelled NCFC to a big win against his former Richmond side and has tied the St. Vincent and the Grenadines international with Trevor Amann with a joint-league-high 17 goal contributions. The 27-year-old forward won five duels, three tackles won and three recoveries in 89 minutes of Week 23 action.
F - Christian Chaney, Forward Madison FC: After setting Fuego FC's single-season scoring record in its inaugural 2022 campaign, Chaney is just one goal shy of doing the same for Madison following his one-goal, one-assist Week 23 performance for the 'Mingos. The 28-year-old won five duels, created three chances and recorded two clearances.
F - Kazaiah Sterling, South Georgia Tormenta FC: Sterling tallied his seventh multi-goal match of his career in a 4-2 thrashing of Madison at Tormenta Stadium. The former England youth international also won four duels and completed 80% of his passes.
Bench: Austin Pack (CLT), Kaelon Fox (LEX), Joel Johnson (CLT), Rafa Mentzingen (NC), Raheem Somersall (NC), Qudus Lawal (CV), Tresor Mbuyu (CLT)
Tag(s): News Raheem Somersall Nil Vinyals Tresor Mbuyu Rafael Mentzingen Team of the Week Forward Madison FC Richmond Kickers So. Georgia Tormenta FC Oalex Anderson Jalen Crisler North Carolina FC Central Valley Fuego FC Hailstorm FC Charlotte Independence Lexington SC Kazaiah Sterling One Knoxville SC