UPSL Florida Team LEG AZ World Producing Up & Coming MLS Talent: Riley & Louis Jean Sign Pro
As the MLS and MLS NEXT PRO seasons comes to a close and we move closer to the playoffs, some teams are still making key additions ahead of the post-season. Making their pro soccer debuts this year—both with an eye on becoming integrated into MLS first-team rosters—former UPSL Florida players Jaden Jones Riley (Portland Timbers) and Steve Louis Jean (Austin FC) are adapting quickly to life at the next level. Riley was recently given a short-team MLS contract to help provide cover for the Portland Timbers at right back and Louis Jean has been starting regularly for Austin FC II.
Representing one of Florida’s best adult teams, both Riley and Louis Jean took part in a couple of standout seasons with Leg-AZ World FC (Gainesville, FL). This Spring, the team finished second place in the Florida Central conference with a 9-0-2 record, second only to eventual National Champions AS Frenzi. It was during this time that both players took part in intense tryout sessions at the two MLS clubs.
“In my days in the UPSL, my teammates and I were always focused on pushing for the playoffs, pushing to be the best team in Florida” Riley explains. “The UPSL challenges you every game. The environment helped push me and build my understanding of the game. My first pro season right now is going really well. I’ve started 16 out of the 22 games so far at right back, and I don’t plan on slowing down.”
With an 81% tackle success rate, 1 goal, 1 assist and 25 clearances so far, Riley has been making big strides in his development. Just last week, Riley penned a short-term first team deal with the Timbers to act as cover for outside back against LAFC. The defender is expected to continue to provide cover from the bench the next few MLS games as he builds first-team experience.
Elsewhere, fellow Leg-AZ World FC alum Steve Louis Jean attempts to make a similar impact in his first pro season with Austin FC. Despite being a mid-season addition, Louis Jean has started 12 games out of 22 so far and is maintaining an incredible 84% pass success rate from center mid.
“It’s been a good season so far at Austin, in my first pro year I’ve already played over 1,200 minutes. I’m extremely proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. My goal is to keep improving and continue helping the team in my own way. The way I see it, it’s my goal to facilitate the team’s play and support my teammates on both ends.”
“What I love about the UPSL is that everyone that played around me, played to win. I played against a lot of teams in this league and one thing they all had in common was that they all played until the final whistle. Every team played to keep possession and pressed hard for 90 minutes. That made me a better player.”
Austin FC II are currently in third place of the MLS NEXT Pro Western Conference standings, with Louis Jean looking to continue getting starting minutes on a very competitive Austin FC II team. With the MLS NEXT Pro season ending in September, both Riley and Louis Jean have ambitions of making it to their respective MLS first-team rosters.
“If I made it to the pros, other UPSL players can make it too. But you have to commit to your dream and be all about it. There’s no two-ways about this, you have to be disciplined” Louis Jean explains what he would say to other UPSL players.
Riley also adds “You have to stay dedicated and passionate, and surround yourself with people, coaches and mentors that believe in you. That’s what helped me. Putting the right people around me”
Back again this Fall for another UPSL Premier Division season, Leg-AZ World FC will look to claim a coveted Florida Central Premier title and make a UPSL National Playoff run. Having sent homegrown pros to MLS clubs before, Leg-AZ are showing no signs of slowing down this season—despite losing two of their best players. To see the latest UPSL Premier Division standings and information on the Florida conferences, visit premierstaging.upsl.com.
About United Premier Soccer League
The UPSL was formed in 2011 and occupies the unofficial fourth tier of US Soccer. Across its Premier, Division 1, Womens and Academy divisions there are more than 500 teams competing nationwide. The UPSL is now the largest Pro Development League in North America and is a National Affiliate member of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated. UPSL teams are eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the league’s affiliation with USSF.
More information about UPSL can be found at www.staging.upsl.com or by following the league on Facebook (facebook.com/upslsoccer), Instagram (@upslsoccer) and Twitter (@upslsoccer).