Defender Matt Sheldon made 20 appearances for FC Tulsa in the 2019 USL Championship campaign, and will return to the club for the upcoming season. | Photo courtesy Charis Wilson / Tacoma Defiance
TULSA, Okla. – FC Tulsa announced on Tuesday it had re-signed defender Matt Sheldon for the 2020 USL Championship season, pending league and federation approval.
Primarily playing at right back, Sheldon made 20 appearances for the club in 2019, scoring his first USL Championship goal of his career on October 6 against Sacramento Republic FC while also chipping in an assist in the season opening draw against Portland Timbers 2. The 27-year-old played in every game he was available for selection, missing 14 matches from March 17-June 16 with an abdominal injury.
“Matt is coming off a very successful season,” said FC Tulsa Head Coach Michael Nsien. “He is a player that is very goal-oriented and takes a professional approach to all parts of his game. Matt was able to find his rhythm during the season, and I have no doubt that he will be setting more ambitious goals for the 2020 season. I look forward to his progression this season, and I expect Matt to put up good numbers in terms of crosses and assists as he is highly capable.”
A native of Bellvue, Washington, Sheldon has played professionally both in the United States and overseas, including stints in the USL Championship with Orange County SC and Saint Louis FC. Through his popular YouTube channel “Become Elite,” Sheldon has amassed a global following of more than 300,000 subscribers while showing a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a professional soccer player. He also hosts a podcast titled “Against All Odds” that regularly features FC Tulsa teammates.
“I’m ecstatic to return to Tulsa and build off last year,” said Sheldon. “The new rebranding of the club looks incredible, and I’m incredibly excited to be a part of the team during this exciting time.”
SAINT LOUIS SNAPS UP WHARTON: Saint Louis FC has announced the signing of midfielder Todd Wharton for the 2020 USL Championship season, pending league and federation approval.
Wharton spent last season with fellow Championship club the Portland Timbers 2 where he led the team with 2,928 minutes played across 34 regular-season contests. The 25-year-old scored six goals, provided one assist and created 39 key chances with a remarkable 87 percent passing accuracy.
A former standout at the University of Virginia, where he made 85 appearances and scored 11 goals over a collegiate career that included an NCAA Championship in 2014, Wharton also competed in USL League Two for the Portland Timbers U-23s in 2015, earning All-League honors for his play. Wharton signed his first professional contract with Rio Grande Valley FC at the start of the 2016 season and made 63 appearances with six goals and eight assists for club over three seasons before joining T2 this past season.
“Todd is a very good midfielder who possesses an excellent range of passing,” said STLFC Head Coach Anthony Pulis. “He has a good engine, competes well and has great delivery from set-pieces. From speaking with Todd, it was very clear he has exactly the type of winning mentality that we’re striving for this year. This signing makes for outstanding competition in midfield which I believe is really healthy and is something we’re looking to create all over the field as we continue to build our roster for 2020.”
N’TOKO RETURNS FOR LOCOMOTIVE FC: El Paso Locomotive FC has announced its Captain, Chiro N’toko, will return for the club’s second season. The Belgian defender was an integral part of Locomotive FC’s squad in the past season, making 28 appearances as the club reached the Western Conference Final of the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs.
“Chiro led by example throughout the whole of 2019 and was a major influence on and off the field,” said Locomotive FC Head Coach Mark Lowry. “His performances were a key piece in forming our strong defensive unit. Defending is an art form, and Chiro is a player who exemplifies that expression. His experience and quality was there for all to see and to be able to bring him back as our Captain is something that I am very proud of.”
While wearing the captain’s armband, N’toko registered a team-high 108 clearances, blocked 14 shots, and led the team in passing accuracy (91.5 percent) as he helped the club concede the second-fewest goals in the Championship’s Western Conference in the regular season.
BONE MAKES MOVE TO RENO: Midfielder Tucker Bone was introduced as the newest player for Reno 1868 FC on Monday evening, joining the club after spending the 2019 USL Championship campaign with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
“Tucker Bone’s a player we’ve followed for a while,” said Reno Head Coach Ian Russell. “He was a player that we wanted to draft last year, but he was picked before we got to him.”
The No. 20 selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft by Seattle Sounders FC, Bone appeared in 16 games with the Switchbacks in his rookie season. Prior to his time with the Switchbacks, Bone spent four years at the Air Force Academy, where he was named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year once and to the United Soccer Coaches All-America First Team twice.
“He’s very mobile and versatile, he’s a player that covers a lot of ground. What I think stands out is he’s very good going forward,” said Russell. “He will create a lot of chances for us, he scored a lot of goals and earned a lot of assists in college.”