If you’re an ambitious club in USL (or MLS, for that matter) looking for proven championship-caliber talent, you can do a lot worse than mining the New York Red Bulls II 2016 roster.
The II-team won the USL league and Cup double in 2016, and promptly - as its habit regardless of the outcome of the previous season - disbanded its squad as it refocused around RBNY’s development and recruitment priorities for the next season. Junior Flemmings contributed seven goals to NYRB II’s 2016 campaign and was retained for 2017, when he added another 10 goals in all competitions to his II-team tally.
But the Jamaican didn’t do quite enough to persuade RBNY to make room for him in its first team, so he was released after two seasons with the Red Bulls. He joined Tampa Bay Rowdies for the 2018 USL campaign, contributing six goals and a team-best five assists. But the Rowdies missed the USL playoffs in 2018 and Flemmings was one of 10 players released as Tampa Bay looked to re-load for 2019.
He hasn’t had to wait long for his next gig: Phoenix Rising FC has snapped up the Jamaican forward.
It's our first NEW player signing for 2019. Welcome to the Rising family, @Flemmo_77! #UpRising pic.twitter.com/yI7doSQ1S4— Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) December 5, 2018
Phoenix finished third in the USL Western Conference in 2018 and made a run to the USL Cup final, losing the Championship game to Louisville City and another former NYRB II player, Devon “Speedy” Williams.
Phoenix Rising’s challenge for 2019 is to kick on without Didier Drogba, who retired after giving the last two seasons of a long and storied playing career to the USL team in Arizona he part-owns. Flemmings will be among the players aiming to help Phoenix meet that challenge.