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Tuesday, August 30, 2011
LOCALS: Akwari, Griffin are All-USL Pro

By Scott French

Backline leader Nelson Akwari, a former Major League Soccer player who fell into the L.A. Blues' lap when he returned to Southern California to complete his degree at UCLA, is part of the USL Pro's all-league team.

So is fellow Bruins product Maxwell Griffin, star goalscorer for Orlando City.

That's it for locals on the third-division's list of the top 22 players, released Tuesday, four days before Orlando City meets the Harrisburg City Islanders in the title game. Both are first-team selections.

Akwari, 29, who spent five seasons with the MetroStars, Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake before moving into the USL's minor leagues, was a calming presence in central defense for the Blues, who went 8-8-9 and reached the USL Pro quarterfinals in their first season.

Griffin (Palmdale/Littlerock HS) scored 10 goals for Orlando City (17-3-6), which won the Commissioner's Cup as regular-season champion and looks to complete the double Saturday at the Orlando Citrus Bowl (Fox Soccer Channel, 4 p.m.).

Defender Gareth Evans, a repeat first-teamer for the Wilmington Hammerheads, was with the Blues during preseason but was released before their first game. Former Galaxy defender Troy Roberts, with the Rochester Rhinos, is a second-team pick.

Six Orlando City players are on the list, including first-teamers Griffin, midfielder Yordany Alvarez, defender Rob Valentino and goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo. Only one Harrisburg player is honored: second-team forward Jose Angulo.

Awards finalists, for MVP and top coach, rookie and defender, will be announced Wednesday, with the winners honored Friday in Orlando.

First team
GK: Miguel Gallardo, Orlando City
D: Nelson Akwari, L.A. Blues
D: Gareth Evans, Wilmington Hammerheads
D: Rob Valentino, Orlando City
D: Yomby William, Richmond Kickers
MF: Yordany Alvarez, Orlando City
MF: Jorge Herrera, Charlotte Eagles
MF: Luke Mulholland, Wilmington Hammerheads
F: Jhonny Arteaga, FC New York
F: Matt Delicāte, Richmond Kickers
F: Maxwell Griffin, Orlando City

Second Team
GK: Neal Kitson, Rochester Rhinos
D: George Dublin, Antigua Barracuda
D: Colin Falvey, Charleston Battery
D: Kyle Hoffer, FC New York
D: Troy Roberts, Rochester Rhinos
MF: Lewis Neal, Orlando City
MF: Lawson Robinson, Antigua Barracuda
MF: Jamie Watson, Orlando City
F: Jose Angulo, Harrisburg City Islanders
F: George Davis IV, Dayton Dutch Lions
F: Jason Yeisley, Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Last week's results (home teams listed first)
Divisional finals

National: Rochester Rhinos 1 (Kissi 45), Harrisburg City Islanders 2 (Basso 6, Schofield 38)
Orlando City 3 (Boden 19, Jerome 46+, Chin 70), Richmond Kickers 0

This week's game
Harrisburg City Islanders at Orlando City, 4 p.m. PT