New Charlotte Independence signing Michael Maria represented Curacao at the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup. | Photo courtesy Charlotte Independence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte Independence announced on Thursday it had signed Curacao international Michaël Maria, pending league and federation approval. Maria is a defensive midfielder and a product of PSV Eindhoven’s youth system in his home country of the Netherlands.
“I'm looking forward to working with the guys and getting victories,” said Maria. “I want to help strengthen the team, not only physically but mentally.”
Most recently, the 24-year-old was signed by FC Twente in the Netherlands where he made 17 appearances and scored two goals in the Eerste Divisie (2nd Division). Prior to his move to the Netherlands, Maria played for German clubs VfL Bochum, SG Sonnenhof Großaspach and Erzgebirge Aue.
“Michëal has played at a very high level in Bundesliga 2 and he's shown that he can be versatile player, for FC Twente,” said Independence Head Coach Jim McGuinness. “He's a central midfielder or a defensive midfielder, and that's his strongest position but he gives us a bit of flexibility. He sees things early and makes very good passes.”
In addition to Maria’s club experience overseas, the midfielder has appeared in 13 games for Curaçao, which last month qualified for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. It is the second time the country has qualified for the Gold Cup after reaching the event two years ago, during which edition of the tournament Maria came on as a substitute against El Salvador at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California and against Jamaica at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado.
“To play in the Gold Cup is a great experience,” said Maria. “It's something that every player wants if they play in Concacaf. It's a big thing and hopefully we can do better than 2017. I think we will because we have a better team. I'm looking forward to it.”
MEMPHIS ADDS YOUNG GOALKEEPER: Memphis 901 FC announced it had signed goalkeeper Jim Barkei, pending league and federation approval. Barkei will join 901 FC’s goalkeeper group that features Jeff Caldwell and Scott Levene.
“Jim joined us during the preseason and showed everything you want from a young goalkeeper,” 901 FC Head Coach Tim Mulqueen said. “He’s a hard worker, exceptional teammate and looks for ways to improve every single day. We’re happy to have him as a part of this team.”
Barkei joins 901 FC after a fruitful collegiate career at Northern Kentucky University, where he went 15-9-4 as a starter, recorded 100 saves and accumulated a 75 percent save percentage. Prior to his time at Northern Kentucky, Barkei was a member of the Loyola University Chicago’s soccer team. The Downers Grove, Ill. native was also a youth standout anchoring his Chicago Magic academy team to two United States Soccer Association Championships in 2010 and 2011.
FURY FC SIGNS QUEBEC CITY STANDOUT: Ottawa Fury FC announced on Thursday it had signed Protais Bumbu Mutambala, a young midfielder born in Tanzania and raised in Quebec City, after a successful trial with the club.
The 20-year old started playing soccer at 10 years old. He made his debut with the Canadian youth program in 2015 at a Men’s U-18 development camp. He has trained with the Montreal Impact Academy as well as concluded the 2018 season with CS Longueil in the Quebec premier league (PLSQ) before he tried out for a spot on the Fury FC roster.