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USL notes: Hartford Athletic signs first 3 players in club history, and more

Jun 13, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; OKC Energy FC midfielder Alex Dixon (11) attempts a shot on the net of the Colorado Rapids in the second half of the match against at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Hartford Athletic will begin playing in the United Soccer League Championship in 2019, and the expansion side signed its first three players Tuesday: Wojciech Wójcik, Jose Angulo and Alex Dixon.

Terms of the deals were not revealed and their contracts are pending league and federation approval. Each of the players previously played under Hartford head coach Jimmy Nielsen, when he led Oklahoma Energy FC.

“We’re very excited to welcome Wojciech, Jose, and Alex to Hartford,” Hartford Athletic CEO Bruce Mandell said in a statement. “These players have proven that they can compete at the highest level and provide an exciting foundation for our club.

Angulo, 30, is a Columbian forward who has played for several clubs across the U.S. He had short MLS stints with the New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution, but really flourished in USL. In 2013, he won the league’s MVP and Golden Boot by scoring 15 goals with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. He also played with Saint Louis FC, the Oklahoma City Energy and in the North American Soccer League with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Dixon, 28, is an American winger who came up in the Houston Dynamo’s academy system. After playing college soccer at North Carolina, he returned to the Dynamo as a homegrown player and scored once in 13 MLS appearances. He went on to play with the Rochester Rhinos and Oklahoma City Energy of USL, and with the Jacksonville Armada of NASL. In 2018, he tallied 11 goals and five assists with the Energy.

Wojcik, 26, is a Polish forward who came up in the Chicago Fire’s youth academy. He played college soccer at Bradley — and was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2013 — and then began his professional career in Finland before returning to the U.S. where he played for the Indy Eleven, Oklahoma City Energy and the New York Cosmos. Since turning pro in 2014, he has tallied 20 goals.

“We are a new team, but we are not going to look like a new team,” Nielsen said. “These players know my coaching style and are ready to compete. That familiarity will give us an advantage that expansion teams don’t often have.”

Championship Notes

  • Birmingham Legion FC, an expansion side, announced Wednesday it signed Spanish-American midfielder Marcos Ugarte to a contract for the 2019 season. Ugarte, 26, spent 2018 playing with Ringkøbing IF, a club in Denmark. Ugarte played his college soccer at Providence and Michigan, and began his professional career in USL with the Rochester Rhinos, winning a USL Cup with them in 2015.
  • Goalkeeper Tim Dobrowolski will return to Louisville City FC for a fourth season, the USL Cup champs announced Wednesday. Dobrowski, 25, is a Loyola University Chicago product and has appeared in 20 matches with Louisville since 2016, primarily serving as a backup to Greg Ranjitsingh, who recently signed with Orlando City of MLS.
  • Louisville City FC also announced Wednesday it signed forward Sunny Jane to a contract for 2019. Jane, 27, went to high school in Louisville and most recently played for a club in Cambodia. He played his college soccer at the University of Maryland, where he scored eight goals over 89 appearances, and previously played in USL with the Richmond Kickers and Wilmington Hammerheads, tallying 14 goals over 91 appearances.
  • Saint Louis FC announced Tuesday it signed defender Matt Bahner for the 2019 season. The 28-year-old Cincinnati native spent the last two seasons playing for FC Cincinnati, who won’t have a USL team in 2019, as the club evolved into an MLS expansion side. He has been a professional since 2013, and in 2014 earned All-USL First Team honors for his play with the Harrisburg City Islanders.
  • On Monday, Saint Louis FC signed another former FC Cincinnati player, bringing forward Russell Cicerone. The 24-year-old forward scored 42 goals in college, appearing in 71 games for the University at Buffalo. He was a fourth round 2017 MLS SuperDraft pick by the Portland Timbers and played for the club’s USL affiliate, Timbers II, scoring once in 29 appearances. He also scored once in 10 appearances with FC Cincinnati in 2018.
  • Forward Madison FC announced two signings Tuesday as the club brought onboard Brian Bement and Eric Leonard. Bement, 25, is a midfielder who played his college soccer at Loyola University Chicago before playing professionally for NASL and NPSL clubs. Leonard, who played collegiately at Butler, comes to Madison after playing for the Nerang Soccer Club, a team in Australia’s second division. Leonard tallied five goals and 10 assists there and was named the league’s Player of the Year.
  • Phoenix Rising FC announced Monday that it had re-signed goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski for the 2019 season. It will be Woszczynski’s fifth season with the club. Last year, the 30-year-old set single-season club records clean sheets (13) and goalkeeper minutes (2,633) and also became the club’s all-time career leader in minutes played (7,560).
  • Louisville City FC announced last week it signed forward Lucky Mkosana to a contract for the 2019 season. Mkosana, 31, of Zimbabwe, played last season with Penn FC and scored 11 goals in 29 appearances. He has also previously played for the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the New York Cosmos. He played his college soccer at Dartmouth.
  • The Tulsa Roughnecks announced last week they signed forward AJ Ajeakwa to a contract for the 2019 season. The 26-year-old from Gardena, California has played professionally since 2015, scoring 20 goals with teams across various divisions. He most recently played with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, scoring five goals in 36 appearances.
  • The Roughnecks shored up their defense Monday, signing Cyprian Hedrick to a deal for 2019. The 29-year-old from Cameroon was drafted by Sporting Kansas City in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, but never appeared for their first team. Hedrick went on to play in USL for Phoenix FC, Oklahoma City Energy FC and San Antonio FC, making 138 appearances in the league.

League One Notes

  • Toronto FC II announced Wednesday it signed Jordan Perruzza, a Toronto FC academy product, to a deal for the 2019 season. The 17-year-old forward appeared in four TFC II matches in 2018, scoring twice. Most recently, he represented the U-20 Canadian team at the 2018 Concacaf men’s U-20 Championship.
  • The Chattanooga Red Wolves signed Spanish-American forward Sito Seoane to a contract for the 2019 season, the club announced Wednesday. Sione, 29, will join the Red Wolves from Grindavik, a club in Iceland, where he scored five goals in 18 appearances in 2018. A native of Miami, Florida, Seoane played his college soccer at San Jacinto community college, where he scored 46 goals in 37 games. He has played for other clubs in Iceland and with the USL Championship’s Ottawa Fury.
  • South Georgia Tormenta FC announced Tuesday that it had signed Dalton Pando to a deal for the 2019 season. A California native, the midfielder spent the 2018 season with FC Tucson. The 22-year-old spent time in the academy systems of both Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes.

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