August 27, 2003--CPSL Hamilton Thunder potential jump to A-League (from The Hamilton Spectator)

A-League acts as player 'magnet'
by hamiltonfan
A-League acts as player 'magnet'

By Josh Brown
Special to The Hamilton Spectator 

Word of the Hamilton Thunder's potential jump to the North American A-League next season has created quite a buzz among players 
in the Canadian Professional Soccer League.

Phone calls are rolling in from players requesting tryouts while others are leaving rival clubs and showing up at Thunder practices 
in hopes of securing an on-field audition.

"The A-League is a magnet," said Thunder CEO Rocco Lofranco. "It attracts a lot of good players. I've had a tremendous amount of phone 
calls from players who want to come to Hamilton."

The Thunder should find out if their pitch to join the A-League is successful in about a month. For players, the move would mean 
more money and a chance to compete against some of North America's top teams including the Toronto Lynx and Seattle Sounders. It's also 
more exposure for players looking to catch the attention of soccer clubs overseas.

And the influx of player interest definitely helps the Thunder address one of its major needs -- talent. While several players are 
CPSL stars A-League boss David Askinas says only a handful on the current roster are ready to compete at the next level.

But Lofranco hopes to remedy that situation and has already started making a flurry of roster refinements. He recently traded midfielders 
Orlin Chambers, Leo Laurito and Vedran Bacek to Toronto Croatia for striker Peter Curic and midfielder Josip Bucic.

He also shipped defenceman Lovemore Ncube to the Brampton Hitmen and signed attacking midfielder David Guzman from Canada's national 
Under-18 team.

Meanwhile former Manchester United midfielder Ross Tobolewski returned to England.

And the dividends are already paying off as Curic scored two goals in a 4-0 romp over the North York Astros last Monday in his 
first game with the Thunder. Hamilton now sits in second place in the CPSL's western conference at 5-2-3.

"The mood in the dressing room has changed dramatically in the past week," said captain Sergio DeLuca. "I've seen the same enthusiasm, 
the same confidence that I saw at the beginning of the season when we were winning."

DeLuca expects the pressure to increase if Hamilton is granted an A-League franchise since soccer hopefuls from all over Ontario will 
be competing for the 11 starting jobs. And Lofranco is forever scouring the province for more talent.

"I told the coach to build around certain types of players -- ones who are mature and responsible and technically good at soccer," said 
Lofranco."If these players don't have these qualities I don't need them."

Hamilton hosts the Mississauga Olympians tomorrow at Brian Timmis Stadium. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m.

Posted on Aug 27, 2003, 12:49 PM

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