NASL Notebook: Nyassi joins Eddies, Ramirez re-signs with Loons, more

IMAGE, REVOLUTIONSOCCER.NET

by JAKE NUTTING
Staff Writer

Less than two months away from the official start of the NASL season, and Tampa Bay and Jacksonville have already started preseason action.

The Canadian NASL teams, along with Fort Lauderdale and Indy, made key additions to their squads. Minnesota United signed one of their key players in 2014 to a new multi-year deal. San Antonio and Carolina added players as well, but also revealed dates for some preseason action of their own.

  • FC Edmonton has added longtime New England Revolution attacking midfielder Sainey Nyassi to squad for 2015. Nyassi, 26, made over 100 appearances for New England in six seasons before being released shortly after the start of the 2013 season. He was promptly signed by DC United but was released at the end of the year. He then joined Finnish first division team RoPS for the 2014 season, appearing 19 times. Coach Colin Miller hopes that Nyassi can be a catalyst in the Eddies midfield. While always being one of the best defensively organized clubs in NASL, Edmonton is consistently one of the lowest scoring teams in the league.
  • The Jacksonville Armada continue to add to their already impressive roster, even after defeating the Philadelphia Union 3-1 in front of 13,000 home fans this past Saturday. The team announced the signings of Sebastian Evers, Nicolas Perea, Ramak Safri, and Tyler Williams. Evers is a 24-year-old goalkeeper who joins the club after four years at the University of Central Florida. Perea, 23, is another college product. The forward spent four years at Syracuse University where he scored 10 goals. Safi is a 31-year-old midfielder whom spent some time with Jacksonville United in the NPSL where he helped lead team a championship in 2011. Forward Tyler Williams, 25, also spent time with Jacksonville United and split his time in college between Clemson and Jacksonville University. The Armada’s next preseason match will be the team’s first outside of Florida. They will play the Charleston Battery of USL in Charleston on February 18th.
  • Midfielder Justin Chavez is the fourth Fort Lauderdale Striker to cross the state and sign a deal with the Tampa Bay Rowdies this offseason. He joins his 2014 teammates Stefan Antonijevic, Darnell King, and Martin Nunez. Justin Chavez is a defensive minded midfielder that brings versatility to the revamped Rowdies squad. In his 27 appearances for the Striker, he also played center back. However, he may not be the final ex-Striker to join the Rowdies for 2015. Kamil Contofalsky, the starting keeper for Fort Lauderdale in last year’s Soccer Bowl, has joined Rowdies camp as a trialist. Contofalsky went the full 90 and had a solid outing in Tampa Bay’s 1-0 win over The Philadelphia Union. On Thursday the Rowdies face off against Swedish first division champions, Malmo FF.
  • The Fort Lauderdale Strikers announced the return of captain Ivan Guerrero for a third season with the club. The offensively minded left back started all 29 league matches for the Strikers and played the most minutes of any player in NASL in 2014. In addition, the club has signed defender Jordan Graye and forward Jose Angulo. After two years in MLS, one with DC United and the other with Houston, Graye has spent the last three years in the NASL with the Carolina Railhawks. He made 39 league appearances for Carolina, mostly featuring at right back. Angulo is a Colombian-American who was with USL side Pittsburgh Riverhounds the past two seasons. He moved to the Riverhounds after one unsuccessful season at the New York Red Bulls. He found his stride in USL , winning the 2013 league MVP award and shared the USL Golden Boot award after tying Dom Dwyer’s single season scoring record 15 goals.
  • Minnesota United has signed a new deal with the 2014 NASL Golden Boot winner Christian Ramirez. While many were wondering about US Men’s National team member Miguel Ibarra’s future in Minnesota this week, the Loons secured Ramirez, also the NASL Young Player of the year last season, through the 2017 season. It’s a well deserved payday for Ramirez and smart business from the Loons. It demonstrates to fans their commitment to investing in top performers long-term. Also, if the 23-old forward continues to shine in NASL, the team is in a strong position to ask for a healthy transfer fee if bigger clubs start making inquiries.
  • The Carolina Railhawks have made another move to fill the void left in goal by the departure of goalkeepers Akira Fitzgerald and Scott Goodwin this offseason. In January the club signed longtime USL keeper Hunter Gilstrap. This week the club added 22-year-old Brian Sylvestre, previously of Vancouver Whitecaps and Harrisburg City Islanders. Sylvestre, with only 8 appearance under his belt, has limited professional experience but head coach Colin Clarke emphasized he is a player that has the potential to develop into a top-class goalkeeper. The Railhawks will play host to Korean second division, Seoul E-Land FC on March 8th at WakeMed Soccer Park. Seoul E-Land was founded in 2014 and is led by former Railhawks coach Martin Rennie.
  • Ottawa Fury FC have added former Atlanta Silverbacks midfielder Brandon Poltronieri. The 29-year-old Costa Rican born midfielder has also been utilized as a left back in the past. Fury head coach Marc Dos Santos noted in the club’s press release that he was happy to have a player capable of covering multiple positions on the left side of the field join the squad. 2014 was Poltronieri’s first year playing in North America. He spent the 2008-2009 season on loan in Portgual with Leixoes, but spent the majority of his career with former Costa Rican club Barujas FC.
  • San Antonio signed a former Silverbacks midfielder of their own. The Scorpions obtained the rights to Atlanta’s Pablo Cruz for undisclosed compensation. This is the second player that Atlanta has traded away this offseason, the other transfer being Kwadwo Poku to NYCFC in MLS. Cruz is an impressive attacking midfielder with great pace that can cause havoc for an opponent’s back line. The Scorpions also announced the inaugural Hill Country Derby on March 14th, between themselves and USL’s Austin Aztex. The match will be hosted by San Antonio at Toyota Field and is an extension of the team’s strategy to foster rivalries with other professional teams in Texas. The club will also play its second annual preseason match against FC Dallas at Toyota Field on February 28th.
  • With its stadium proposal out for public consumption Indy Eleven has gotten back into the business of signing players. The club has signed forward Wojiech Wojcik and midfielder Osman Melgares, while inking a permanent deal with 2014 loanee Sergio Pena. Wojcik, 22, is a Chicago Fire Academy who has recently spent time gaining professional experiene in the Finnish lower divisions. Melagres is a left-footed box-to-box midfielder who made over 90 appearances in three seasons for Real Sociedad de Tocoa in the Honduran first division, scoring 14 times. Pena is another midfielder from Real Sociedad, and started 13 of Indy’s final 17 games during his Fall Season loan.