Forward Madison has confirmed the signing of winger Derek Gebhard, adding a crucial attacking piece to its 2021 roster, the club announced in a press release Thursday. Gebhard, 25, adds the Flamingos to a professional résumé that includes three USL Championship teams and six years in the American second tier.
“When I spoke to [head coach] Carl Craig, he talked to me a lot about the culture he’s trying to create, how he’s trying to have a team that’s one with the community,” Gebhard said in a statement. “Coming to Madison will be a great chance to keep playing, but also to get back to what I love about football. I think that, in turn, will take my game to the next level.”
Gebhard spent 2020 with the Charlotte Independence, where he contributed two goals and an assist across 13 appearances. According to Craig, Gebhart will mainly feature on the right wing, a spot often occupied by Don Smart, who has departed for Greenville. Craig said Gebhart can operate across the entire forward line, though.
“Derek has been at a couple of highly-respected clubs and he’s got bags of experience at the Championship level,” Craig said in a statement. “His ability to beat people one-on-one and his physical speed fits right in with how we’re looking to play. Derek brings more forward thrust to our attack and that’s an essential part of the big picture.”
Gebhard, who was born in Maine but moved around during childhood, got his professional start at just 19 years old when he signed for Jacksonville Armada FC, then of the North American Soccer League. Gebhard made 60 appearances across four seasons for the Armada before signing with El Paso Locomotive in 2018, where he scored the first goal in the team’s history.
Gebhard eventually moved on to OKC Energy FC and, from there, to the Independence, where he spent time on loan in 2018 before returning on a permanent deal in 2020. As he joins the Flamingos, Gebhard says his sights are set higher than ever for the new season.
“I want to get involved as much as I can, so that means taking players on, getting balls in the box and taking shots,” Gebhart said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to meeting the fans and I’m hoping we can have a great season and win a lot of things for the community and the club.”