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MLS Opening Weekend 2017: Which Former Bulls Are In The League?

With the domestic league kicking off tonight, let’s talk about the USF alumni who will be taking the field.

MLS: Sporting KC at New England Revolution
Dom Dwyer is the headliner of former USF soccer players in MLS.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone watching the 2017 MLS Superdraft (a very small group to be sure) might have noticed a few USF players selected this year. Marcus Epps went in the 2nd round to Philadelphia Union. Lindo Mfeka was drafted by San Jose Earthquakes later in Round 2, and Vancouver Whitecaps grabbed Nazeem Bartman in the 4th round.

Only Epps signed with his parent club, but he’s not the only former Bull in Major League Soccer. There are five of them (that we know about) suiting up for MLS Opening Weekend:

Marcus Epps

Epps scored his first professional goal just the other night over at Al Lang Stadium vs DC United in a preseason tournament game. Philadelphia Union actually moved up to take him in the draft, so they clearly see something in him. Will he play this upcoming season? We’ll see. More than likely he’ll be coming off the bench in the beginning of the season, but it seems he’s on the first team squad as a rookie. That’s impressive, no matter how you look at it. Watch for his name this Sunday vs. Toronto FC.

Dom Dwyer

The star. The golden boy. Dwyer is currently the first-choice striker at Sporting Kansas City. He started 31 games last season, scoring 16 goals and 3 assists. Picked 16th overall in the 2012 Superdraft, the Englishman has officially been with SKC his whole career, save a loan spell at Orlando City in 2013 when they were still in USL. He’ll be an American citizen soon, making him eligible to play for the U.S. men’s national team. Read as far into that as you want.

Ben Sweat

The most recent USF addition to MLS, Sweat signed with New York City FC on February 23. He’s not been loaned out to the USL affiliate (yet), and NYC plays on Sunday, so he’s at least in the reserves, if not on the bench. Sweat was drafted 14th overall by Columbus Crew in 2014, but spent most of that time with Columbus’s USL affiliate, the Dayton Dutch Lions. Sweat was waived before the 2015 season and spent the last two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Hopefully Sweat has found a home in the Big Apple.

Bernardo Anor

Bernardo played at USF before my time, and he also stumped the staff. Luckily, Goalmouth John Koepkey remembered Anor and described him as “a beast” and “our best player circa 2008.” A Bull from 2007-2010, Anor was drafted in the 3rd round in 2011 by Columbus Crew. (They seem to like USF players. Jeff Cunningham, the second-highest goal scorer in MLS history, played eight years there.)

The Venezuelan spent four seasons in Columbus before being traded to Sporting Kansas City. Most recently, he signed with Minnesota United for their inaugural MLS season. He has a total of 84 appearances up to this point and could see action this evening as Minnesota plays MLS royalty Portland Timbers.

Speaking of Portland...

Jeff Attinella

Attinella also played for USF from 2007-2010. He was drafted in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft in the first round by Real Salt Lake, but was released without a contract. The keeper was signed by the Rowdies in 2011, and came on as a substitute that season. The Rowdies brought him back in 2012 and made him the first-choice goaltender. Tampa Bay won the 2012 Soccer Bowl, with Attinella being named to the 2012 NASL Best XI. Real Salt Lake signed him again in 2013, where he made 29 appearances over four seasons as a backup keeper to Nick Rimando. Minnesota picked Attinella in this year’s expansion draft and promptly traded him to Portland, where he will start the season behind current starting keeper Jake Gleeson.