The 2019 USL Championship season is a little over a month away, and teams are continuing to build their foundation both on and off the field. A slew of signings, particularly from Portland Timbers 2, headline a busy week.
Off-the-field decisions have also taken a spotlight with teams arranging preseason friendlies and making agreements with overseas clubs to widen their talent search.
Wharton, Anguiano, De Vera and Leeker Join T2
The Portland Timbers 2 announced four signings; Two midfielders (Todd Wharton and Carlos Anguiano), one defender (Niko De Vera) and one goalkeeper (Jake Leeker). The moves come after the team’s first success in 2018, qualifying for the USL Playoffs. Unfortunately, they were eliminated in the first round by Phoenix Rising FC.
De Vera played with the New York Red Bulls II in 2018. The player made 27 appearances with 22 of them being starts. He was part of an RB II team that advanced to their third straight Conference Final. Now he rejoins the Timbers organization where he started his career with the team’s U23 side years ago.
Rowdies and Norwich Make a Pact
The Tampa Bay Rowdies formed a partnership with EFL Championship side Norwich City. Promising players in the Norwich academy will make their way to the Rowdies to play in sunny northern Florida.
If successful, it could be the beginning of a trend. Many European teams find it difficult to get their academy players significant minutes. The deal also makes it so that loans or transfers would be significantly cheaper between the clubs. This minimizes the risk should players not work out.
The other part of the agreement deals with merchandising. The two clubs, who share similar colors, with have joint merchandising opportunities. With Norwich seemingly on their way back to the English Premier League, it could be a way to grab more American eyeballs in a key florida market.
“There’s so much opportunity for growth in this,” said Norwich Head of Partnerships Sam Jeffery. “In fact, we’re currently in talks together around a really ambitious project that we hope will set up a lasting Norwich City footprint in the Tampa Bay region over the next decade and do a lot of good in the local communities over there and here in Norwich.”
Familiar Name Joins Memphis 901
The son of former Louisville City FC head coach John Hackworth has joined Memphis 901 FC for their inaugural season. University of Akron’s Morgan Hackworth will be patrolling the backline for the new club and joins the team after finishing as runner-up in the College Cup with his team.
“Morgan is an outstanding young talent with a high Soccer IQ,” said team head coach Tim Mulqueen. “His versatility will make him a very valuable member of our team. Morgan is a winner, and we are thrilled that he will be joining us.”