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Introducing your 2019 Fresno Foxes

By Fresno FC, 03/09/19, 10:00AM PST

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The hunt is on.

The Foxes are back in business as Fresno FC opens the 2019 USL Championship regular season against New Mexico United on Saturday evening at Isotopes Park. (6:30 p.m. PT kickoff on CW59 + ESPNPlus).

These are the 22 Fresno Foxes who make up our opening day roster.

GOALKEEPERS

1. CJ Cochran (Age: 28, Country: USA)

A 6-4, 206-pound behemoth between the posts, Cochran rejoins the Foxes for a full season after spending a one-month loan in the middle of 2018. He made five appearances for Fresno including a clean sheet in the club’s 2-0 win over Sacramento Republic FC in the Highway 99 Derby on June 30.

28. Sam Howard (Age: 26, Country: USA)

A native of Takoma Park, Maryland, Howard returns to the club’s goalkeeping ranks after serving as backup to 2018 starter Kyle Reynish. Howard made five appearances, three of which were starts, in the preseason. He is in his second season competing in the USL Championship after playing abroad in Sweden in 2016 and 2017.

DEFENDERS

2. Zachary Ellis-Hayden (Age: 26, Country: Canada)

An athletic and speedy right-back entering his second season with Los Zorros after being voted as the club’s 2018 Defensive MVP by his teammates. Ellis-Hayden appeared in 20 games in his position, all starts, to record five assists (a club-best mark tied with Juan Caffa and Danny Barrera), despite battling injuries throughout the season.

3. Elijah Martin (Age: 22, Country: USA)

Born and raised in Fresno, Martin returns to the USL stage to represent his hometown club in 2019. The homegrown Fox went pro at age 17 with LA Galaxy II, and was also selected to the U-17 U.S. National Team Camp before playing the previous three seasons with Fresno’s League Two club.

4. Ramon Martin Del Campo (Age: 25, Country: Mexico/USA)

An aggressive back-line bully, Del Campo returns for Year 2 with Los Zorros following stints at Ottawa Fury FC, Puerto Rico FC, and Saprissa FC. Del Campo made 30 starts in 2018 and played 2,602 minutes, behind only Pedro Ribeiro to lead his teammates. Last season, he was a twice selected to the USL Team of the Week and recorded a total of 167 clearances for the second-highest mark in the Western Conference.

5. Mickey Daly (Age: 31, Country: USA)

A reliable center back with seven years of USL experience, Daly returns for his second season at Fresno FC. Daly recorded 28 starts, 125 clearances, 57 interceptions and 59 tackles in 2018.

18. Alex Cooper (Age: 27, Country: England)

The Scottish international brings pace and athleticism to the Foxes’ left wing position after a successful 2018 that saw him support the offense with three goals, two assists and 28 chances created. He re-signed with Fresno FC in the 2019 preseason after recording 24 appearances in his first season in the USL, missing some because of injury.

24. Sam Strong (Age: 22, Country: USA)

From the beaches of Santa Barbara, Sam Strong is in his second season with the Foxes following several seasons with Ventura County Fusion (PDL/League One), UC Santa Barbara, and the U-21 U.S. Men’s National Team.

MIDFIELDERS

6.  Jorge Escamilla (Age: 22, Country: Mexico)

A young and highly-technical midfielder with a pedigree that brought him through the academy at Mexico’s Pumas UNAM and the Under-21, Under-23 Mexican National Teams. Escamilla spent part of 2018 as a trialist, scoring or assisting goals in both of the Foxes’ friendlies against Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Club Leon.

7. Jackson (Age: 34, Country: Brazil)

An explosive winger with more than 100 MLS appearances and an NASL Soccer Bowl championship under his belt, Jackson returns to California after spending the previous season in his native Brazil. In 2017, he led the SF Deltas to the NASL title. Before that spent six seasons in MLS between FC Dallas and Toronto FC.

8. Milton Blanco (Age: 34, Country: USA)

Perhaps Fresno’s most successful men’s soccer player and eventual mayor, Blanco returns for his second season with Fresno FC – and final overall, or so he says. After reaching the MLS stage with Chivas USA, Blanco saw the game take him across the country and into Canada before returning to his home state four years ago. He made two appearances during the 2018 USL season and started in two more matches for the Foxes in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

10. Juan Pablo Caffa (Age: 34, Country: Argentina)

After leading his club in scoring (nine goals) and assists (five) in 2018, the Argentine midfielder returns to the USL Championship for his third year. A free-kick specialist and playmaker, Caffa was named the club’s Offensive MVP last season and will look to commandeer the team in hopes of reaching its first postseason.

11. Jemal Johnson (Age: 33, Country: England/USA)

A dynamic and pacey winger, Johnson comes back for Year 2 with Fresno FC after accruing 14 years of experience with 16 different clubs. In 2018, Johnson scored a team-best nine goals (tied with Caffa) over 28 appearances.

13. Emir Alihodzic (Age: 25, Country: Bosnia & Herzegovina/USA)

The 6-foot experienced midfielder returns to the USL after playing last season in his native Bosnia at Mladost FC. In 2017, Alihodzic made 14 appearances at Saint Louis FC, where he played under Preki [Pedrag Radosavljević], who was Adam Smith’s mentor at Sacramento Republic FC in 2014-15.

15. Hiroki Kurimoto (Age: 28, Country: Japan)

A newcomer to the USL, Kurimoto brings six years of experience from Japan, where he played in the country’s Japan Football League with Honda FC. He scored 34 goals and made 45 assists during his tenure at Honda FC and helped the club to a JFL Championship in four of his six seasons (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018). He was named Most Valuable Player of the Japan Football League in 2016 and 2017, and selected to the league’s Best Eleven squad in each of the last four seasons.

(Not pictured)

17. Arun Basuljevic (Age: 21, Country: USA)

An athletic midfielder that signed an MLS Homegrown contract with NY Red Bulls in 2017 following three years at Georgetown University and camps with the youth through Under-21 U.S. National teams. Basuljevic was acquired as a free agent in the 2019 preseason.

22. Diego Casillas (Age: 24, Country: Mexico)

The latest local signing for the Foxes, Casillas brings a high-level of speed and ball handling to the Foxes’ roster after spending the previous four seasons at the USL League Two level with Fresno Fuego and the Fresno FC U23s. In 2018, Casillas played in all 13 matches for the Fresno FC U23s, leading the club in minutes played (904), shots on goal (22), and goals scored (4).

26. Seth Moses (Age: 25, Country: USA)

A physical central midfielder, Moses joins the Foxes from Indy Eleven, where he made 21 appearances in 2018. During the 2019 preseason, Moses started in four matches for the Foxes, including the club’s preseason opener against LA Galaxy II.

forwards

9. Jaime Chavez (Age: 29, Country: USA)

A 6-foot-1, 181-pound goal scorer, Chavez returns to the USL after spending part of last season with Tampa Bay Rowdies. He joined the Rowdies from Miami FC in the NPSL, where he scored nine goals in 11 appearances while helping Miami win the NPSL Championship.

20. Qudus Lawal (Age: 23, Country: Nigeria)

The quick forward signed with Fresno FC at the beginning of the 2019 preseason following a successful trial with the club. He returns to the USL after earning his first professional contract in 2015 with Seattle Sounders 2. He scored two goals in his first professional start and finished with 10 appearances that season for S2. Lawal was then traded to Wilmington Hammerheads where he made 37 appearances and scored three goals over three seasons at the USL level.

21. Christian Chaney (Age: 22, Country: USA)

Providing the team with a massive target in the final third, Chaney turned on the jets in the second half of 2018, scoring all eight of his goals after Week 13. The Fresno native made 30 appearances, including 13 off the bench to become the third-highest scorer on the team.

23. Renato (Age: 28, Country: Peru/USA)

The former Fresno Pacific University star returns for Year 2 with Los Zorros, and will look to work his way into the starting lineup after being the club‘s biggest spark off the bench in 2018. He entered as a substitute in 17 of 25 appearances a year ago to net five goals, all of which came after the 80th minute including an extra-time game-winner against Sporting Arizona FC in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.