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Where is Evan Bush Now?

Bush is now regarded as one of the top keepers in USSF D-II.

Bush is now regarded as one of the top keepers in USSF D-II.

The Cleveland City Stars lost a great deal of talent when they folded in the fall of 2009.  Most fans remember the skillful play of Teteh Bangura, but many will also remember the great potential of local keeper Evan Bush.

Bush served as a talented understudy to Hunter Gilstrap, but was called into action on several occassions.  He would appear in 7 matches, posting 2 shutouts and a 1.285 GAA.  He even was named to the USL First Division Team of the Week for Week 17 after a four-save performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps.  This quick success put him on the radar of several MLS and USL-1 clubs. 

The University of Akron graduate would eventually sign with Crystal Palace Baltimore. a former USL-2 club now playing in the USSF D-II Pro League.  Many project that Bush will be the starting keeper when the club opens the season on the 16h of April, even though Chase Harrison and Bush have been sharing time in goal throughout the preseason.  His intangibles, experience, and intelligence make him a complete player with loads of potential. 

Bush is quick to give credit to those who helped him make it this far.  He believes his time at Akron helped him immensely.  “They have a great professional atmosphere,” Bush stated.  “You don’t really understand it while you’re there.”  Playing for a national power in collegiate soccer clearly helps you set expectations as a professional player. Understanding the rigors of the beautiful game is also key.  “They prepare you both mentally and physically,” Bush concluded. 

The time with the City Stars was also valuable to Bush.  “I saw some situations for the first time,” Bush added.  “It was a baptism by fire.” Cleveland often suffered from defensive breakdowns, which would test any keeper.

Evan Bush would face off against fellow Cleveland native Barry Rice in a preseason scrimmage against D.C. United.  Bush allowed just one goal in his 45 minutes, but Baltimore lost 5-2.  This was just another solid performance from the young keeper.  Crystal Palace Baltimore are quite fortunate to have acquired such a talented player, one with obvious MLS talent.  According to Bush, Baltimore has the talent to compete with top teams.   It is just a matter of the squad taking time to gel as chemistry is always important on the pitch.

Where is Hunter Gilstrap Now?

Gilstrap finds a home with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of USL-2.

Gilstrap finds a home with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of USL-2.

We last saw Hunter Gilstrap in goal for the Cleveland City Stars at Middlefield Cheese Stadium in Bedford, Ohio.  Little did we know that this would be the last time we would see the City Stars on the field and in operation.  The franchise folded in December of 2009 after failing to find a buyer.  It wasn’t due to a lack of effort as Dr. Aaron Tredway did his best to sell the team, peddling the team to investors from around the world. 

Hunter played well last season, earning USL-1 Player of the Week honors for Week 5 and finding himself on the USL-1 Team of the Week three times. Gilstrap would rank fifth in the league in saves (89), minutes (1980), and games played (22).  He would finish with an impressive six shutouts. 

Gilstrap would find himself on a whirlwind tour during the offseason.  He would go on trial with Toronto FC for three weeks before finding out they would not need a third goalkeeper.  “It was a great experience, nothing but positive,” Hunter suggested.  He would gain valuable experience in the preseason, playing in two games and allowing just one goal (on a penalty kick).

Without a contract offer from Toronto, Gilstrap headed home for a week before heading to Charleston. He received an offer to train with the Battery, who were without a goalkeeper. Hunter would receive a contract offer from fellow USL-2 club Pittsburgh Riverhounds while training in Charleston.  He decided to take advantage of a good opportunity and a sure thing.

Gisltrap now finds himself as the projected starter at goalkeeper for the Riverhounds, a squad that has gone through a lot of changes.  Former midfielder Justin Evans takes the helm as head coach with only a handful of players returning from last year’s squad.

The City Stars limped through last season, but it proved to be a valuable learning opportunity for the young keeper.  Hunter spent much of the season as the captain of the squad, an impressive feat considering that veteran players (Troy Roberts, Gordon Kljestan, Pato Aguilera) also called Cleveland home.  The Riverhounds will likely call upon his leadership, talent, and experience early and often as the season nears.  Gilstrap figures to once again be an asset in the community; this time he will be doing the good work in a new place.  Hunter was named City Stars Community Service Award Winner in 2009. He will also be getting back into the field of coaching, calling it “something I love doing.”

“USL-2 is a quality league with six quality clubs, ” Gilstrap continued. “But we have an opportunity to compete for a league title.”    Pittsburgh will have that chance thanks to a proven commodity in goal.

Cleveland City Stars Fold

We have received information from multiple sources that the Cleveland City Stars have ceased operations and will not return to play professional soccer. This comes as quite a shock as positive news was heard yesterday.  There are lot of unanswered questions at this point, but it is safe to say that this is disappointing news for players, staff, and obviously supporters.

An official announcement from the City Stars organization is expected early next week.  We did not want to publish this information early, but thought it should be handled by a “soccer friendly” media outlet.

Cleveland City Stars Update

Multiple sources suggest that the sale of the City Stars will be official sometime next week.  We were told that it is “now in the hands of the lawyers” and should be wrapped up soon.

Officials with the United Soccer Leagues declined to make specific comments on the matter, but did say an important update on the City Stars would be made available next week.  Past comments from the club suggest the franchise will remain in the USL in some capacity.  The City Stars have some difficult decisions to make regarding the choice of leagues, especially with the recent defection of the Rochester Rhinos. 

The USL/TOA/NASL saga needs to be resolved quickly and without further incident.  Many people are concerned about the long-term effects of the situation and what it could mean for the future of the game here in North America.  Here are two scenarios that are being discussed:

1.  MLS (1st Division), NASL (2nd Division), USL-2 (3rd Division), followed by PDL and Super Y-League     

2.  MLS (1st Division), NASL (2nd Division), USL-Pro (2nd Division), followed by PDL and Super Y-League

Note: USL-Pro would be a combination of current USL-1 and USL-2 clubs. 

Obviously the USSF wields the final authority on the matter.  Would they (or could they) allow two 2nd Division leagues to coexist simultaneously? Can the USL gather enough expansion teams to fill USL-1 with “8-12 teams” as they mentioned earlier? Would the USL be willing to refocus their energy on PDL and Super Y-League clubs?