San Antonio FC's Rafa Castillo in action against Rio Grande Valley FC. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate Media LLC
SAN ANTONIO – On Tuesday, San Antonio FC announced that decorated Colombian midfielder Rafa Castillo would re-sign with the club for the 2019 USL Championship season, pending league and federation approval. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Castillo returns to SAFC for his fourth season after amassing 63 appearances and 4,548 minutes in all competitions with the club since the start of the 2016 season. His 12 goals rank second on the club’s all-time scoring list and he is just one of six players to appear for SAFC in all three seasons of its existence. In his three seasons, he has also accumulated two assists, 111 shots and 51 shots on target.
“We’re pleased to have Rafa back for the 2019 season,” SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell said. “His professionalism, leadership, and his abilities on the field are clear for all to see, and we expect him to have a prominent role within the group throughout the course of the campaign.”
Over the course of a 2018 season where Castillo battled multiple injuries, the 38-year-old appeared in 13 USL matches, making five starts and totaling 546 minutes. The veteran midfielder chipped in with two goals and nine key passes. Castillo also appeared in one Open Cup match, scoring a goal in 65 minutes of action.
“First and foremost, I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue playing,” Castillo said. “I’m excited to continue learning from my coaches and teammates, and look forward to representing our amazing fans, city and badge on the field while making the San Antonio community and my family proud.”
EL PASO SIGNS MIDFIELD PAIR: El Paso Locomotive FC continued to build the core of its inaugural roster with the signings of midfielders Nick Ross and Calvin Rezende.
“I’m excited about coming to play in the USL and grateful to El Paso for giving me this opportunity,” said Ross. “I am looking forward to a new challenge and can’t wait to get started.”
Ross has amassed an impressive international career in his homeland, playing in the Scottish First Division, Scottish Premiership. The 27-year-old came out of the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Youth Ranks and made his pro debut in 2009. Ross played an integral role in helping Inverness achieve promotion to the Scottish Premiership in 2010 and claim the Scottish Cup in the 2014-2015 season.
“At 27 years of age, and with over 200 appearances in the Scottish Premiership, Nick will be bringing a lot of all-round quality and experience into our midfield,” said Locomotive FC Head Coach Mark Lowry. “He is a box-to-box midfielder, he has a fantastic engine and is very comfortable on the ball and values keeping possession. He is the perfect midfielder to compliment the players around him and will be an important factor on both sides of the ball for us. Bringing Nick to El Paso is just another example of how we have scouted the world and put in the time to find the right players that fit our philosophy and identity.”
Rezende spent last season with Penn FC, playing 1,153 minutes over 20 appearances for the club. The 25-year-old, who was an MVP candidate in USL League Two with the Michigan Bucks in 2015, created 16 chances and won 48 duels as the Pennsylvania side just missed out on the USL Cup Playoffs.
DIA JOINS GROWING LIST OF RISING FC RETURNEES: Phoenix Rising FC announced that defender Amadou Dia would return for the 2019 season, joining James Musa, Collin Fernandez, and Joey Farrell as the fourth player from the 2018 Western Conference champion to commit his future to the club. Per club policy, the details of the contract will not be made public.
Dia played a team-high 3,086 minutes in 35 appearances last season, his second with Phoenix after joining the side in the middle of the 2017 campaign. He also contributed three assists to the club’s record-breaking offense and created the third-most chances on the team (31). Defensively, Dia was second on the team in tackles won (30) and third on the team in clearances (85). The 25-year-old played every minute of the club’s 2018 playoff run as Phoenix claimed the Western Conference crown but fell 1-0 in the USL Cup to Louisville City FC.
“I am honored to be returning to Phoenix and I am looking forward to getting back to work with my teammates and coaches next season,” Dia said. “We are all hungry to build on the 2018 season and bring the fans of Phoenix the trophy they desire.”
LEGION LOAN IN GHANIAN DEFENDER CROMWELL: Birmingham Legion FC acquired the first piece of its defensive line on Tuesday as the club announced the acquisition of Razak Cromwell on loan, with an option to buy, from Ghanaian Premier League club Dreams FC. Cromwell will officially be available pending a P1 visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
“We are excited to add Razak to our roster,” said Legion FC President and General Manager Jay Heaps. “He’s a smart, dynamic player with an excellent left foot who can play a few different positions down the left side for us this season.”
The 24-year-old has made seven starts this season for his club, all as a left-sided fullback, helping Dreams FC reach sixth place in the league. Cromwell will join recent signing Joe Holland in filling one of Legion FC’s seven international roster slots.