Player name: Kyle Curinga
Position: Right fullback
Last club: Jaro FC. 2014 and 2015 with Gamlakarleby Bollklubb Kokkola (GBK) in the Finnish third division and 2016 with just-relegated Jaro FC in the second division.
One thing you need to know
After three seasons of successful professional soccer in Finland, Clearwater Florida native Kyle Curinga is back in the United States and ready to prove that success in one league can translate to success in another. After beginning 2017 as a trialist with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and appearing in their preseason match against VL Wolfsburg Next Generation team, Curinga moved on to Real Monarchs SLC and was rewarded for his efforts with contract for the 2017 USL season.
What he brings to the team
Electing to take a road less traveled, Kyle left Florida Atlantic University to sign a professional contract in Finland after a freshman season in which he made only 8 appearances. More of a midfielder at Clearwater Central Catholic HS and Florida Atlantic he transitioned to become a regular starter at right fullback for his two teams in Finland. He started in all but 7 of his 71 appearances there.
As a right back, Curinga has shown great ability at running the sideline and providing quality service into the box while scoring 5 goals. Kyle was also shown 15 yellow cards in his 71 appearances in Finland which works out to a pace of a little over 1 yellow card every 5 matches. While he never received a second yellow or a straight red card, coming to a new league with different refereeing patterns may become an issue he will need to address.
Why you should be excited
If nothing else, the fact that Kyle was not content to stay with the Rowdies this spring and fight for a backup spot behind established starter Darnell King shows that he has a deep desire to find time as a starter and prove his worth. In an interview posted by The Monarchs before the preseason match with VC Fusion, Kyle expressed his excitement at being back at it and building up for the new season.
Catching up with Defender Kyle Curinga Pre-game. pic.twitter.com/BWQ7Grx2UP— Real Monarchs (@RealMonarchs) March 9, 2017
While right back is not a position of great depth for the Monarchs, Kyle and Reagan Dunk may serve to provide sufficient challenge to each other to force both of the new signings to grow and improve as the season progresses. In each of his thee preseason appearances, Curinga has created good chances with his service and should continue to improve as the 2017 build a team identity and a consistent level of play. As a veteran professional, coach Mike Petke should also be able to rely upon Curinga to show a mental toughness and fast start to games.
Predictions for 2017
- Kyle and Reagan Dunk will have among the most even competition for starts and playing time of any on the 2017 Monarchs.
- Curinga will collect at least three assists from service into the box from the sideline.
- Kyle will struggle with the elevation during the first month or two of the season, but quickly come up to full high elevation fitness before the summer arrives.