North Carolina FC Exercises Contract Options on Four Key Players
CARY, N.C. - In a move that secures the return of four players who impressed in their debut seasons with North Carolina FC, NCFC on Tuesday exercised contract options on joint leading scorer Robert Kristo and defenders Sam Brotherton, Alex Comsia and Caleb Duvernay. The transactions are pending league and federation approval, and no further details were disclosed, per club policy.
Collectively, Kristo, Brotherton, Comsia and Duvernay played 6,856 minutes during the USL Championship regular season, scoring 12 goals and recording four assists as NCFC reached the postseason under first-year head coach Dave Sarachan.
Kristo, who came to NCFC following stints in Germany (VFL Osnabrück) and Italy (Tuttocuoio and Fideles Andria), made an impact in his first year in Cary by appearing in 25 matches and scoring nine goals, tied with midfielder Steven Miller for the team lead. One of the most clinical finishers in the league, the 26-year-old Kristo averaged 0.95 goals per 90 minutes, the highest average in the USL Championship among players who logged a minimum of 800 minutes in 2019.
Often prolific off the bench for Sarachan, Kristo scored six of his goals in 19 appearances as a substitute, and he became a fan favorite by scoring in each of the team's final four home matches in the regular season, finding the back of the net five times.
Both aged 22 when the season began, center backs Sam Brotherton and Alex Comsia formed a successful partnership in the middle of NCFC's backline in 2019. Both players factored heavily in NCFC's best defensive season since 2011, as the team allowed only 1.09 goals per match and recorded 10 clean sheets.
Brotherton, of Auckland, New Zealand, played 2,784 minutes in 2019, the second-most on the team. In his first season of professional soccer in the U.S. after arriving from Sunderland in England, Brotherton recorded three goals, the most by a defender on the team. In 31 appearances, the New Zealand international logged team highs in clearances (142), blocks (21) and aerial duels won (104).
Comsia, a former NCFC U23 standout who played collegiately at UNC, started every match he played in. Despite missing six matches due to a jaw injury, the Vancouver, British Columbia, native saw the field for 2,389 minutes, as the former ACC Defensive Player of the Year recorded 81 clearances, 20 blocks, 32 interceptions and one assist.
Duvernay, a Cary native who previously starred for both the NCFC Youth Academy and NCFC U23, played an important role for Sarachan at left back in his first season at the professional level. The former N.C. State defender played in 14 matches, including six straight from June 15-July 17. In total, Duvernay logged 829 minutes, making nine starts, and he notched an assist in NCFC's 2-2 draw at Saint Louis FC on June 22. In March, Duvernay scored in a friendly against Necaxa FC, as NCFC earned a 2-1 win against the first-division Mexican club.
The four players join Miller, Ben Speas and Nazmi Albadawi on the list of NCFC players confirmed to be returning for the 2020 season, as the club continues to negotiate with additional members of the 2019 squad.
The club has also declined contract options on Austin Panchot, Timmy Mehl, Victor Igbekoyi and Darrin MacLeod. NCFC thanks these players for their contributions to the club and wishes them well in their future endeavors.
Season tickets for North Carolina FC's 2020 season are on sale now. Click here to learn more about season tickets or call the Coastal Credit Union Box Office at 919-459-8144 to speak with a ticket representative.
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