The Cosmos remained active, making a pair of changes, but the probable winner of the this edition was Rayo OKC.
The Cosmos’ first move in March was to move a player out. Jimmy Mulligan was loaned out to Swope Park Rangers, Sporting Kansas City’s USL side. With six appearances, five of them starts, across two seasons, the loan represents an opportunity for him to find valuable minutes under former Ottawa Fury coach, Marc Dos Santos.
Jacksonville made a single move in the first half of the month, signing Charles Eloundou. Elondou, a 21-year-old Cameroonian striker, was a trialist with them this year. His previous experience included time with Cameroonian sides before joining the Colorado Rapids organization, spending time with both the MLS and USL sides. Most recently, he split time between the Charlotte Independence (USL), the Colorado Springs Swtichbacks (USL), and the Colorado Rapids (MLS) where he made 11 appearances. He has already aided the Armada with three goals in preseason.
The team also released midfielder Nico Zaldana. Zaldana made only one appearance last season, in the US Open Cup.
Miami started off their month by signing versatile defender Joe Franco. The 26-year-old defender spent the last two seasons with LA Galaxy II, helping them to a USL Western Conference win last season. He made 44 appearances for them across two seasons, 30 of them last season.
They then added their second Cuban player to their team: Ariel Martinez. Martinez joins Jorge Luis Corrales on the Miami side. They already have a few things in common as members of the Cuban national team and both spent time with Spiritus Sancti FC of Cuba. The 29-year-old midfielder was most recently with the Charleston Battery.
Minnesota started March with the signing of Ismaila Jome. Jome, a Minnesotan, joins after spending three seasons at UC-Santa Barbara where he received several honors. After 56 appearances as a winger and defender at the university, he joins United.
Jamaican defender Damion Lowe joined the club on loan from the Sounders. The 22-year-old made 20 appearances for Sounders 2 over the last two seasons. He also joined United for friendlies, including the Simple Invitation that was part of their preseason. Before that, he spent time with Reading United (PDL) and in the Jamaican league.
Marcel de Jong, a 29-year-old Canadian, joined the team. De Jong is a left-side player who can play as a fullback or midfielder. De Jong spent time in the Bundesliga and most recently spent time with Sporting Kansas City. He also has 42 caps for the Canadian Men’s National Team.
Pablo Dyego also joined the Fury, on a one-year loan from Fluminense. The 21-year-old winger is a product of their academy in Brazil and debuted with their reserve team before going on loans with Djugården of Sweden and Legia Warsaw of Poland.
Ramon Soria, a 26-year-old center back, joins the club from Celje in Slovenia where he made 19 league appearances and another pair for the Europa League. The Spaniard also played on a few Segunda B teams in Spain and made 19 appearances in 2014 for the Ottawa Fury.
Chris Nurse also joined after spending 2015 making his second stint with the Carolina Railhawks, where he made 15 appearances. The 31-year-old midfielder also played for FC Edmonton and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. The Guyanese national has 47 caps for his national team and makes his return to La Isla del Encanto after playing for the Islanders in 2010 and 2012.
David Meves, a 25-year-old American keeper, joins after spending the last two seasons with the Strikers. He made 11 appearances last season and played a part in helping his team to the postseason.
Puerto Rico also signed 23-year-old Brazilian Oliver Minatel. After spending time in Portugal and Brazil, the forward spent the last two seasons with the Ottawa Fury, making 46 appearances and scoring nine times.
Previously training with and linked with the Cosmos, Georgios Samaras inks a deal with Rayo OKC. The 31-year-old Greek striker was most recently with Al-Hilal of the Saudi Professional League, but his career has included stints with Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion, and Celtic. He’s also played in the last two World Cups and last two Euro Cups for the Greek national team, part of over 80 appearances overall.
Midfielder Jeff Michaud, a 22-year-old American, has been loaned out to the Wilmington Hammerheads (USL) for the season. He made four appearances in 2015.
Scottish center back Neill Collins joined the Rowdies after spending six of the last seven seasons with Sheffield United in the Championship and League One. He started all 30 of his appearances last season, scoring three goals. The 32-year-old has also played for other clubs in the English system, including Leeds United, Wolverhampton, Sunderland, and Hartlepool United.
My thoughts? Rayo with the big win in the first half of March. Samaras brings extensive experience to a roster already full of talent. Now, the Cosmos supposedly could not come to terms with him over the condition of his back. If his health holds, it could boost them for their inaugural season. All that remains now is to see how he holds up.
I really like Jimmy Mulligan and wish him luck. Hopefully he can improve on his game and continue his career growth in US Soccer.
Charles Eloundou scored some goals in the preseason for the Armada and he received a contract for his efforts. He netted a few goals past some MLS opposition and the Armada make another strong move in what has been a very solid off season.
I also really like the move to sign de Jong from Ottawa. Whenever you can bring in an national team player, it is a good thing. Also, with the loss of Ryan Ricther to the Bethlehem Steel, this could be a nice replacement for a team that took some serious hits defensively.
Welcome to Game Week!!!