ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies added two more pieces to their squad for the 2019 USL Championship season on Friday with the signings of experienced midfielder Yann Ekra and defender Ryan Felix, pending league and federation approval.
The club also confirmed the return of Kwadwo Poku for the new season following the former New York City FC midfielder’s arrival at the club midway through the 2018 campaign.
Ekra ranks eighth in the USL Championship’s history with 171 appearances between the regular season and USL Cup Playoffs and has recorded 16 goals and 13 assists over spells with Penn FC and the Charlotte Independence. Ekra was a key figure in Penn’s run to the 2014 USL Cup before the side fell to Sacramento Republic FC as he recorded 29 appearances for the side while sitting tied for the team-lead with six assists.
Born in Côte d’Ivoire, Ekra began his career in Europe with the academy and reserve teams of Olympique Lyonnais, Châteauroux and Hull City before moving to the United States in 2012. For the past three seasons he has featured for the Independence, helping the side reach the USL Cup Playoffs in 2016 and 2017.
“Yann brings valuable USL experience to our roster from his time with Penn and Charlotte,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins said. “He brings strength, speed and technical skill to our roster, as well as the ability to beat a defender one-on-one, which is important for how we want to play.”
Felix was named to the 2017 USL Championship All-League Second Team when he was a member of the the Rochester Rhinos, and has been 73 appearances across four seasons in the league. After beginning his career with a two-season stint at Orange County SC in 2015, the 6-foot-4 center back featured first for the Rhinos and this past season for San Antonio FC, where he recorded 104 clearances, 16 blocks and recorded a passing accuracy rate of 83.5 percent on 47.5 passes per 90 minutes.
“Ryan is at the perfect age for a center back,” Collins said. “He has great USL experience and was part of a tremendous Rochester defense in 2017. He’s a proper defender that takes a lot of pride in defending his goal and he’ll be a great addition to our back line.”
Defenders (2): Ryan Felix, David Najem
Midfielders (5): Yann Ekra, Leo Fernandes, Dominic Oduro, Kwadwo Poku, Zach Steinberger
Forwards (4): Brandon Allen, Sebastian Guenzatti, Antoine Hoppenot, Malik Johnson