Forwards Tom Beck and Vinny Bell will be returning for the 2016 season. Beck and Bell are staples of the team, and this year will be the players’ fifth season with the Royals. Having joined AFC Cleveland ahead of its inaugural season in 2012, the two veterans bring plenty of experience and leadership to the team.
“They’re both super competitive [and] I think that really helps in driving the team forward. They know the culture of the team, they know the expectations,” said Head Coach Carter Poe.
Poe, who played with both Beck and Bell during his time as a player, thinks that they have matured quite a bit since their initial season. “I think I’ve seen a lot of growth in both of them,” he said.
A native of Poland, Ohio, Tom Beck played at the collegiate level before joining the Royals, having represented both Cleveland State University and the University of Mount Union. In 2015 Beck was named to the NPSL Midwest XI, following a season in which he was among the Royals leading goal scorers.
“There’s just something about Cleveland, the atmosphere the fans create, and the culture and that the philosophy that the club has instilled since its beginning back in 2011,” said Beck. “We have the best fans in the NPSL.”
Known for his energetic approach to the game, Beck has been deployed in several positions at AFC Cleveland and has excelled in all of them.
“Tom will do well wherever you put him, you know? He can play on the wing, he can play center-mid, up top, but I think he has really grown into the winger position,” said Poe.
Vinny Bell, who was AFC Cleveland’s first ever signee, spent his collegiate years at Case Western University. There, Bell set both the season and career record for goals, with 20 and 43 respectively. A very physical player, Bell has consistently scored goals for the Royals since his arrival to the team.
“Vinny is just a beast. Every year he’s been in the league he’s scored a bunch of goals. You know exactly what to expect of him, he’s a handful up top,” said Poe.
Not surprisingly, Bell is itching to get back on the field and spend some time with Poe as well as his teammates.
“I love the team. I love Carter, love the coach, love the owner, and I love playing for the fans,” said Bell. “It’s just a great opportunity to play some competitive soccer at a high level and close to home.”
As for Terry Lawriw, the Royals’ President, he couldn’t be happier to have the players return.
‘I’m excited to have them back. They’ve been very loyal to the team and to the fans,” he said. “They’re really great guys.”
Fans can see Tom Beck and Vinny Bell back in action on May 14, when the Royals open up their 2016 NPSL season at home against Indy Eleven NPSL.