The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Machingauta Making Waves At Ocean City

YOUNG United States-based Zimbabwean defender, Tapiwa Machingauta, enhanced his chances of breaking into English football when he was recently named as the Defensive Most Valuable Player for the 2012 season by an American soccer club Ocean City Nor'easters.

Entering their 18th year, Ocean City Nor'easters are based in Ocean City, New Jersey.

They are among the most successful clubs in the Premier Development League (PDL) - the top men's amateur league in North America.

Founded in 1996, the team plays in the USL Premier Development League, the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid in the Mid-Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

The team plays its home games at Carey Stadium which is located right next to the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey.

The stadium's nickname is "The Beach House" and they have played there since 2005.

The team's colours are royal blue and white.

They are among the most successful USL Premier Development League teams since joining the league in 2003.

In 2008 the Barons formed a partnership with English Premiership side Reading.

In 2010, following a split between the PDL team and their youth soccer affiliate, the team re-branded to Ocean City FC, adopted Reading's colours, and a similar badge.

The team also adopted a new nickname: the Nor'easters.

And the club recently announced the MVP of the Season along with the positional MVPs and Young Player of the Year, and among the winners was Zimbabwean Machingauta who picked the 2012 Defensive MVP award.

Machingauta, who recently completed a four-year soccer scholarship at Bradley University at Peoria in Illinois, now wants to turn into a professional football player and has set his sights on playing in the demanding English football leagues.

In fact, a UK-based scout, who asked not to be named for professional reasons, has already been in touch with Machingauta and would like the 23-year-old defender to join an English club at the beginning of the 2013-2014 in August this year.

And Machingauta, a former pupil of Prince Edward High School in Harare, did himself a power of good in his quest to break into English football when he won the Ocean City Nor'easters 2012 Defensive MVP award.

"2012 was such a fantastic year for the whole Ocean City Nor'easters franchise that it is difficult to single out players for awards," Director of Communications Steve Thurlby recently said from the United States.

"However, after consulting with fans, players and staff the club put together the Nor'easters MVP list.

"And the winners are:

2012 MVP - Nick Bibbs;

2012 Offensive MVP - Zoncher Dennis;

2012 Defensive MVP - Tapiwa Machingauta;

2012 Young Player of the Year - Markhus 'Duke' Lacroix.

"This is a tremendous list of players and it is to their credit that they were honoured above seasoned veterans and fans' favourites.

"Players such as club captain and 2011 MVP Terry Gibbs, 2010 Defensive MVP Kevin Curran and human metronome Max Hamilton who held the team performances together in 2012 could not find themselves among the honours this year," Thurlby said.

Club captain Terry Gibbs also spoke about his teammates.

"Bibbsy was a rock at the back for us this year alongside Big T (Tapiwa Machingauta) and they allowed us to attack as freely as we did.

"Zoncher has an ability to be in the right place at the right time to knock in the goals for us and Duke was electric when he got going.

"There could have been many names up for the awards and this goes to show the strength and depth of our squad."

The club's coaches also commented Machingauta's contribution to the team.

"Tapiwa comes to us as a seasoned and experienced veteran player with international experience. "He had the opportunity much younger in his career to play for GPS Portland Pheonix and makes the move to OC this summer in a second stint in the PDL.

"He is super athletic and tenacious. We believe his physical presence and savvy sense of the game as a defender will help solidify our defensive third."

Machingauta is only the second player from Zimbabwe to play for Bradley University.

At Bradley University, Machingauta became a key figure in a strong defence starting all 47 games that he played in. After spending the 2010 PDL season with MPS Portland, Machingauta moved to the east coast to show the Nor'easters fans what he can do.

During the 2012 season, Machingauta was the only Brave to start all 20 games for Bradley University and he played all but 46 minutes the entire season, anchoring Bradley's backline from his sweeper position.

In addition to his defensive work, which helped Bradley to five shutouts and limited the opposition to just 4,7 shots on goal per game, Machingauta recorded a pair of assists last season.

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