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USL notes: Former Philadelphia Union player Najem lands in Memphis

Jul 26, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Adam Najem (24) controls the ball past Columbus Crew defender Jukka Raitala (2) during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis 901 FC, an expansion side in the USL Championship this season, signed midfielder Adam Najem on Tuesday.

Najem, 24, is a native of New Jersey and a product of the New York Red Bulls academy, where he spent eight seasons. He played college soccer at Akron, where he scored 33 goals in 89 appearances and helped the Zips make four NCAA tournament appearances.

“(Najem) is a quality player with lots of USL Championship and Major League Soccer experience,” Andrew Bell, director of soccer for Memphis, said in a statement. “His technical ability and soccer IQ make him a good fit as we continue to prepare for our first match on March 9.”

While with the Red Bulls academy, Najem played in USL League 2 with the Red Bulls’ U-23 team. He also played with the Michigan Bucks. In 2017, the Philadelphia Union acquired Najem’s rights from the Red Bulls and signed him to a contract.

Najem appeared in six games with the Union over two seasons, but mostly played with their USL affiliate, the Bethlehem Steel. In 38 matches with the Steel, he tallied five goals and 10 assists.

Adam’s brother David, also a Red Bulls’ academy product, plays in the USL Championship with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. They’ll face each other in the USL season opener on March 9 in Memphis.

In August 2018, Najem earned his first national team cap with Afghanistan.

“Adam is a fantastic player with exceptional play-making abilities,” Memphis coach Tim Mulqueen said. “His ability to unlock a defense with his passing is top class. I am thrilled that a player of his caliber will be joining us.”

Rowdies add two international defenders

The Tampa Bay Rowdies announced two 2019 roster additions Wednesday, bringing in Jordan Doherty on loan and signing Mohamed Kone.

Doherty, an 18-year-old Irish defender, comes to Tampa Bay from Sheffield United F.C., a club in England’s second division. He has featured for Ireland’s U-19 national team and Sheffield’s U-18 side. He can play centerback or as a holding midfielder.

Kone, 25, hails from Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, and represented its senior national team in World Cup qualifying matches. He most recently played for FC Luch Minsk, a club based in the Eastern European country of Belarus. He can play almost anywhere on the backline, but typically features at centerback.

USL League One

  • FC Tucson announced last week that it had signed Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu to a deal for the 2019 season. A midfielder and defender, Wheeler-Omiunu played at Harvard and was a 2017 MLS SuperDraft pick by Atlanta United. He appeared in four games across all competitions in two seasons with the Five Stripes, and also played in 10 games with its USL Championship side, ATL UTD 2.
  • Lansing Ignite signed Grant Stoneman to deal for the 2019 season. Stoneman played his college soccer at Loyola Chicago and was the 2018 Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He was drafted by the Chicago Fire 55th overall in the MLS SuperDraft and the club will retain his MLS rights.
  • Greenville Triumph SC added defender Cole Seiler, signing him to a deal for the 2019 season. A native of South Carolina, Seiler played his college soccer at Georgetown and is a former Vancouver Whitecaps MLS SuperDraft pick.
  • The Richmond Kickers signed goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald to a deal for the 2019 season on Wednesday. Fitzgerald, 31, is a native of Japan and has had a well-traveled career in U.S. soccer, playing in NASL, MASL, MLS and the USL. He most recently featured for the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

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