NASL Notes: Carolina Set to Host Liga MX’s Toluca, Indy Adds La Liga Veteran, more

by JAKE NUTTING

This week, the Carolina RailHawks revealed they will host Liga MX side Deportivo Toluca F.C. on March 26th, ensuring a marquee opponent to cap off their preseason ahead of the 2016 season. Prior to welcoming Toluca, the RailHawks will play UNC-Wilmington, N.C. State, as well as a home and away series with the USL’s Richmond Kickers for some tuneup action.

Toluca, runners up during last year’s Liga MX season, hold ten league titles and two CONCACAF Champions Cups. The club reached also the final of the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League.

One potential newcomer to the RailHawks who might see action against Toluca is forward Aly Alberto Hassan, who signed a deal to join the club on Thursday. The 26-year-old attacker has spent the majority of his professional career playing the NASL, first with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers for four years and then with Ottawa Fury FC after a midseason transfer in 2015. Hassan has appeared in the last two NASL championship finals. In total, the forward has 62 appearances and 12 goals from his time in NASL.

Indy Eleven

Indy Eleven has brought in experienced Spaniard Gorka Larrea to handle defensive midfield duties in 2016. The 31-year-old midfielder cut his teeth with Real Sociedad’s B team in Spain’s second division early in his career, making over 100 appearances and scoring 16 goals in several seasons with the reserve side. Larrea made his debut for the first team in La Liga in 2004 and went on to earn 24 more appearances for the club.

Larrea holds the distinction of playing an integral part in the promotion of two different second division teams to La Liga. First he helped guide UD Almería to promotion while on loan during the 2006-2007 season, and he did the same while serving as captain of Levante in the 2009-2010 season.

The veteran was with Montreal Impact in MLS for the back half of 2014 but was without a club last year.

Miami FC

Ahead its inaugural season, newcomer Miami FC has added 31-year-old defender Adaílton Jose dos Santos Filho.

The centerback brings ample experience to the expansion side. Adaílton spent 2015 with the Chicago Fire in MLS, picking up 19 appearances. Prior to last year, though, the defender demonstrated his abilities in Brazil and Europe. He made a name for himself with his first club, Vitoria, in Brazil’s second division and parlayed that performance into a move to Rennes in France’s top division. The veteran made 42 appearances for over three year with the Ligue 1 side before returning to Brazil to join powerhouse Santos FC, where he earned 50 appearances and helped the team capture the Paulista State League in 2007.

Ottawa Fury FC

New Fury FC boss Paul Dalglish has dipped into the USL talent pool again this off-season, this time pulling Tulsa Roughnecks defender Kyle Venter. A versatile defender capable of playing anywhere on the back line, Venter began his professional career as a MLS draft pick of the LA Galaxy. He never cracked into the Galaxy’s first team and instead earned his debut with the club’s USL reserve squad, LA Galaxy II, in 2014.

Venter made nine appearances for LA Galaxy II during that season before signing up with Tulsa, where he appeared in 24 matches and scored three goals.

Rayo OKC

NASL first-timer, Rayo OKC, inked a pair of players this week who each have a couple seasons of experience in the league under their belt.

Defender Erick Norales has agreed to play in Rayo OKC’s inaugural campaign after doing the same with Indy Eleven in 2014. He remained in Indy for a follow up season and finished his time there with 46 total appearances and five goals. Prior to moving to the U.S., Norales played in his native Honduras for first C.D. Vida and then Marathón for five years. He’s also a veteran of the Honduran national team program, with 33 appearances in competitions like the Copa Centroamericana and CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Midfielder Jarad Van Schaik has also signed a deal to move back to the NASL after entrenching himself as a regular for the Charleston Battery in the USL. The 27-year-old accumulated 82 appearances over the past three years while with the Battery. Van Schaik shifted to the USL after his previous club, the NASL’s Puerto Rico Islanders, folded up shop at the end of the 2012 season. He had 40 appearances in two years with the Islanders.