As the league’s teams enter the month of February, we’ve seen them begin preseason training and prep for friendlies just around the corner. But that doesn’t mean league transfers are over. They’ve slowed down somewhat, but clubs are still making moves and finalizing their rosters. The most new acquisitions came from the expansion sides, but many of the league’s sides made some sort of move to kick off the month.
The Carolina Railhawks started their week by re-signing a staple in the Railhawks scene. “Mr. Railhawk” has been with the club since 2007, scoring the club’s first goal and winning the first team MVP award. He leads the club with 244 appearances, making 23 last season, 22 of them starts. The 37-year-old defender added an assist in 2015.
The Railhawks announced another returning face as captain Connor Tobin was also re-signed by the club. The 29-year-old defender started 28 of his 29 appearances last season and made 23 appearances, all starts, in the 2014 season, scoring two goals in each campaign. The return of their captain should be a boost in turning around a poor performance by the back line last season.
The Strikers made only one move securing another Brazilian influence, in the form of Dalton Moreira Neto. The 26-year-old center back seems to have had difficulty finding playing time across his career. It does not appear that he got playing time in his most recent stint with Internacional. The former Brazilian youth international has spent most of his career in the Brazilian leagues outside of a stint in Peru.
The Armada made a solid pick-up grabbing 26-year-old striker Matt Fondy. The 2015 USL Golden Boot winner scored 22 goals, added 7 assists, and collected the USL MVP award. He also earned an All-USL first team nomination while with Louisville FC. He is reunited with defender Bryan Burke, who was picked up earlier this season.
The Armada also announced cuts, releasing forward Tommy Krizanovic and defenders Jordan Gafa and Nurdin Hrustic.
Miami FC announced the signing of 25-year-old midfielder Roberto Alterio. Alterio has experience with Caracas FC, Florida International University, the University of South Florida, and was a Venezuelan youth international.
The next pickup for the expansion side was defender Mason Trafford, formerly of the Ottawa Fury. The 29-year-old Canadian made 54 appearances across the last two seasons with them, including starts in all 27 appearances in 2015. The experienced defender should be help the new club immensely.
The last signing was an atypical one, Dutch-American player Sergio Van Kanten. The bulk of his early career was spent with youth and reserve teams in Colombia and across Europe. He also has connections to Florida football with previous time spent on the USL’s Miami FC in 2007. Most recently, he captained Miami Dade FC to the American Premier Soccer League Championship semifinals. He can be utilized as a midfielder or a striker.
Sammy Ndjock, the 24-year-old Cameroonian keeper was one of them. After a 12-8-3 record, seven shutouts, and a 1.09 GAA, the club chose to pick up his option.
Midfielder Juliano Vicentini signed a new deal with United. The 34-year-old Brazilian spent the last two seasons in Minnesota, making 48 appearances. He started 22 of his 23 appearances last season, scoring two goals.
United also added a new piece by signing Kristian Nicht. The 33-year-old goalkeeper spent the last two years with the Indy Eleven. After 27 matches in 2014, the German started 20 last season, going 7-7-6 with a 1.60 GAA. He was also part of an strange transfer that involved him being sent to the Montreal Impact for the CONCACAF Champions League, getting put on the business end of a 4-2 shellacking, and winding up back with the Eleven.
Mozzi Gyorio, a 26-year-old midfielder, signs with them after spending 2015 with the Austin Aztex, Fury head coach Paul Dalglish’s former club. He made 18 appearances, contributing three assists. He also played under Dalglish at FC Tampa Bay (now the Rowdies in 2010). Of more interest regarding the Canadian player, he’s currently in the midst of a lawsuit against his 2014 club, Minnesota United, and the NASL for breach-of-contract after the club attempted to send him down to their reserves.
Andrew MacRae, a 25-year-old keeper, trained with the club last season. He joins after featuring for the Acadia University Axemen and was also an assistant coach for goalkeepers.
The aforementioned departure of Mason Trafford to Miami also took place.
Daniel Fernandes made 14 starts for the Scorpions last season, going 3-5-6 after joining them in the fall. His other experience involves the German Bundesliga, the Greek Superleague, and the 2010 Portugese World Cup team.
Marvin Chávez, another former Scorpion, joins Fernandes, head coach Alen Marcina, and recent signings Billy Forbes and Tyler Gibson. The winger made 27 appearances last season, starting 25 matches and scoring four times. The Honduran national has also played for the Liga Nacional de Honduras, MLS, and was on the 2014 Honduran World Cup team.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez Fernandez, also known as Juanan, joins after spending last season with Leganes of the Segunda División of Spain. The 28-year-old Spanish national saw no league play, but did make three appearances in the Copa del Rey. Prior to last season, the center back had gotten regular appearances with his clubs in the top divisions of Germany, Spain, and Hungary.
Hugo Rhoads, a defender, signs his first pro contract after spending the last four years playing for the University of Portland.
Ian Svantesson also signs his first pro contract after four years as a defender at the University of Alabama Birmingham.
The Rowdies signed Austrian goalkeeper Michael Langer. The 31-year-old Austrian spent the last two seasons with Vålerenga of the Tippeligaen, the Norwegian first-division, making 42 appearances. He finished his 14-appearance season on a seven-game unbeaten run. He also spent his time between 2005-2013 with clubs in the top two divisions in Germany, but most of his playing time came with their reserve sides in the third division.
Tampa Bay also picked up a loan. Junior Burgos, with Atlanta United of MLS, will join them for the 2016 season. The 27-year-old midfielder joined the Silverbacks in 2014, scoring three goals and adding two assists in 17 appearances. After a stint with the USL’s OC Blues, he returned to Atlanta last fall, making another 17 appearances while scoring four goals and adding six assists.
Not the busiest week this off-season, but definitely some interesting moves made across the league. I think Minnesota made the better moves this week in securing returning players and adding some experience in Nicht, as long as he remains a back-up keeper.
I think Burgos makes a fine addition to the Rowdies and may be the strongest individual player move of the week, but I’m most intrigued to see how Fondy works for the Armada, particular with the exceptionally fast attack they employed last season.
Ottawa continues to win my most underwhelming off-season vote. I may be totally wrong, but so far, I just don’t think what they’ve brought in really compensates for what they’ve lost. But, between Jonny Steele and Mozzi Gyorio, I’m sure my interest will be kept.
But, most importantly, hoping we see the Cosmos finalize a few things soon.