With the USL season over, Portland Timbers 2 have sent the team's leading scorer, Kharlton Belmar, on loan to the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League through the end of their season.
With the NASL regular season extending into November, the Timbers should get an idea from this move just how Belmar's blazing speed and nose for goal translate to a slightly higher level of play. Many called for Belmar to join the Timbers' first team over the course of T2's inaugural season and it will be interesting to see the pacy forward playing alongside players like legendary Spanish striker Raúl González Blanco. Equally interesting will be how the Cosmos use him; putting Belmar up top as a striker or potentially having him cut in from the wing.
As the NASL fights with Major League Soccer and US Soccer over the right to be called a division 1 league, it is hard to deny the growing quality of some of the teams in the US's second tier. The Cosmos in particular are an interesting case as the team around which much of the NASL seems to be propped up.
For his part, Belmar will certainly get a chance to play with the Cosmos as the team tends to employ a heavy rotation policy, particularly away from home, as they attempt to keep some of their aging stars (Raul is 38) fresh and healthy.
Having scored 12 goals in 28 matches for T2 this year, including the team's first-ever goal in a 3-1 win over Salt Lake's Real Monarchs, Belmar slowed down after a rampant start to the season as injuries, changes to the squad, and word of his blistering pace took their toll.
The Timbers' press release:
T2 LOAN FORWARD KHARLTON BELMAR TO NEW YORK COSMOS
T2 leading scorer to join Cosmos on short-term loan for remainder of NASL season
PORTLAND, Ore. – T2 today announced that the club has loaned forward Kharlton Belmar to the New York Cosmos for the remainder of the 2015 North American Soccer League (NASL) season.
Belmar, 22, was the leading goal scorer in T2’s inaugural season, tallying 12 goals and recording three assists in 28 games. Belmar finished the year ranked seventh overall in goals (12) and tied for seventh in points (27) in USL. Belmar was selected to the USL Team of the Week three times this season, earning player of the Week honors in Week 6 for scoring two goals on the road at Arizona United SC on April 25. The Virginia Beach, Va., native featured in all 28 of Portland’s USL matches, starting 27 games and recording three braces. He also started against Newcastle United FC in an international friendly held at Providence Park on July 21 and featured in two U.S. Open Cup matches, scoring the go-ahead goal on May 19 against the Michigan Bucks in the second round of the tournament.
A second-round pick (No. 34 overall) by the Portland Timbers in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft out of Virginia Commonwealth University, Belmar also was a member of the Timbers U-23s Premier Development League (PDL) team in 2014 before beginning his professional career with T2 during their inaugural USL season.