Argentine Midfielder Lucas Paulini Set To Begin Fourth Straight Season With Silverbacks
Atlanta (GA) – Midfielder Lucas Paulini isn’t going anywhere. The Atlanta Silverbacks have agreed to terms with the Argentine, keeping him on the team for a fourth straight season, the club announced Tuesday.
Paulini, who started his professional career with the Silverbacks in 2011, has made 46 league appearances for the club since his rookie season – 40 of which were starts. The 24-year-old central midfielder spent the first half of last season recovering from a knee injury before returning to the team and eventually starting in the league’s championship game, NASL Soccer Bowl 2013, on November 9.
“We’re really excited to have Lucas back for another season here in Atlanta,” said Silverbacks President and General Manager Andy Smith. “He has been the consummate professional since joining the Silverbacks organization three years ago, and we believe he has the potential to be one of our breakout players in 2014.”
A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Paulini was discovered by the Silverbacks out of college in 2011. The 6-foot-1 midfielder played his senior season at Virginia Commonwealth University after transferring from Division-II Tusculum College (Tenn.). In his rookie season, he appeared in 27 of a possible 28 NASL games, scoring a pair of goals and serving as the Silverbacks’ team captain.
Paulini would go on to make 18 more appearances from 2012-2013, dealing with a number of injuries in the process. After extended rehabilitation, the Argentine reemerged as one of the Silverbacks’ key players during the latter part of last season, earning himself a spot in the starting eleven when the club hosted the New York Cosmos in NASL Soccer Bowl 2013. Although the Silverbacks fell to the Cosmos, 1-0, in the title game, Paulini played well, creating a glorious scoring opportunity for teammate Pedro Mendes in the opening minutes of the contest.
“We’re thrilled that Lucas is returning to the Silverbacks. He worked very hard to fight his way back into the team following his injury, and now he is completely healed and ready to go,” said Silverbacks Technical Director Eric Wynalda. “The word I like to use to describe Lucas is quality – as a player and as a person. He’s going to bring a lot to our team.”
A midfielder known for his vision and creativity, Paulini is the club’s fifth free agent signing in the last two weeks, joining fellow midfielders Blair Gavin and Junior Sandoval and forwards Matt Horth and Kwadwo Poku.
The Silverbacks will start preseason later this month under the guidance of Wynalda, whose role now includes managing the team. Wynalda and the Silverbacks kick off the 2014 NASL season on April 13 when they visit the Cosmos in New York.
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