Forward Madison FC has re-signed three of its key veteran players to the team for the 2020 season.
The club announced Wednesday that midfielder J.C. Banks and forwards Paulo Júnior and Don Smart had been signed to contract extensions.
Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre had already been confirmed to return, as he was the only player in the team’s inaugural season signed to a multi-year contract.
Head Coach Daryl Shore said that having a foundation of returning players gives his team a base to build on. Speaking on the team’s podcast, Behind the Feathers, Shore said fans should expect more re-signings to be announced in the coming weeks.
“These four guys were all integral parts of our season all year long,” Shore said. “What we built in year one was truly special, and we only have better places to go in year two. When you do that and you’re putting together your roster, you’ve got to have a core group of guys that come back.”
Forward Don Smart, 31, was the first player ever signed by the new club in October 2018. He led Forward Madison in goals with nine in all competitions in 2019. The Jamaican was also voted the USL League One Midseason MVP.
Midfielder J.C. Banks, 30, became Forward Madison’s first-ever Wisconsin native when he signed for the team last December. Banks played in every one of the Flamingos’ USL League One games in 2019, and scored the goal that clinched the team a playoff berth on Oct. 5 in Lansing.
Forward Paulo Júnior, 30, brings experience from spells in Major League Soccer with Real Salt Lake and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Paulo, who hails from Brazil, also played in every regular season game last year, scoring five goals — including the club’s first-ever home goal — and assisting on another five.
Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre, 26, is another player with Major League Soccer experience on his résumé, having spent time with the Philadelphia Union. Sylvestre caught fire during the back half of FMFC’s 2019 season, allowing just three goals in the team’s last eight regular season games.
Shore said fans should be excited by the prospect of having four of its first-season standouts back for 2020.
“Our club felt like it was necessary to have these four players,” Shore said. “These four guys, along with the rest that we’re going to bring back, are very, very integral parts of our family.”