Six CFC Players Named To NISA 2022 Best XI Teams

  • Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Chattanooga Football Club continues to rack up the post-season honors with six players being named to the the National Independent Soccer Association's (NISA) 2022 Best XI teams. Voted on by league head coaches, Chattanooga FC and Cal United each had three selections on the First Team and three selections on the Second Team, demonstrating why they finished nos. 1 and 2 in the regular season.

Representing CFC on the NISA First Team are Taylor Gray, forward from from Hughesville, Maryland; Alex McGrath, midfielder from Spennymoor, England; and, Markus Naglestad, forward from Kristiansand, Norway. Second Team honorees from CFC include Ian Cerro, midfielder from Aurora, Colorado; Richard Dixon, defender from Hanover, Jamaica; and, Franky Martinez, defender from New York, New York.

"We are very proud to unveil this list of players – each of whom had extraordinary seasons," says NISA Commissioner John Prutch. "These are never easy calls to make, as there were so many great performances throughout 2022. But that only shows the depth of talent in this league, as well as the skill every player is putting on display in support of club and community."

The 2022 NISA Best XI are:


  • Jean Antoine, GK, Cal United Strikers FC – Recipient of the 2022 NISA Golden Glove scored 12 clean sheets in 16 matches
  • Alioune Diakhate, F, ALBION San Diego – Runner-up for the 2022 NISA Golden Boot, scored 12 in 20 matches and distributed four assists
  • Darwin Espinal, F, Maryland Bobcats FC – Finished third in the goal-scoring race, netting 10 to go with four assists
  • Taylor Gray, F, Chattanooga FC – Scored six goals and posted two assists while leading the league in minutes played with 2,109
  • Markus Naglestad, F, Chattanooga FC – Winner of both the 2002 NISA Golden Boot and Golden Ball, led the league with 19 goals and five assists in 23 appearances
  • Omar Nun~o, F, Cal United Strikers FC – Was third most efficient scorer in the league finding the back of the net every 137 minutes
  • Minjae Kwak, M, Syracuse Pulse – Four goals and an assist on the scoresheet, but impact came from starting scoring plays deeper in the field
  • Alex McGrath, M, Chattanooga FC – Consistently in the mix while scoring five goal and assisting on three others
  • Matt Constant, D, Michigan Stars FC – Started and played in all 22 regular season matches for the second-stingiest defense in the league
  • Garrett Hogbin, D, Cal United Strikers FC – Tallied 1,261 minutes anchoring the league’s top- rated defense
  • Vasil Zhongo, D, Michigan Stars FC – Co-led defenders with five goals while playing a key role on the club’s lock-down D


The 2022 NISA Second Team includes:


  • Tatenda Mkuruva, GK, Michigan Stars FC – Golden Glove runner up recorded 11 regular season shutouts
  • Kaleb Jackson, F, Syracuse Pulse – Scored eight goals in 17 matches
  • Jonathan Firmino, D, Michigan Stars FC – Second-leading defensive scorer on vaunted back line
  • Franky Martinez, D, Chattanooga FC – Logged second-most minutes on defense and posted two assists
  • Edwin Rivas, D, Los Angeles Force – Most efficient defensive goal scorer with five in 967 minutes
  • Ian Cerro, M, Chattanooga FC – Scored four goals and notched two assists for highest- scoring offense
  • Richard Dixon, M, Chattanooga FC – Played the role of heart of the club tied for largest goal differential (23)
  • Manuel Gonzalez, M, Maryland Bobcats FC – In 22 matches, acted as playmaker for a club that scored 32 goals
  • Steven Juncaj, M, Michigan Stars FC – The engine of the club, scored three goals and handed out five assists in 19 matches
  • Tony Lopez, M, Cal United Strikers FC – In only 14 matches, generated seven goals and three assists
  • Walter Varela, M, ALBION San Diego – Contributed three goals and four assists for the eventual runners-up
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