ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rowdies announced on Monday it had signed Jordanian international Jaime Siaj ahead of the 2019 USL Championship season.
A former member of fellow Championship sides the Charlotte Independence and OKC Energy FC, Siaj is no stranger to the Rowdies. The 23-year-old spent the 2017 preseason in Tampa Bay, and played for the Rowdies in exhibition contests against both VfL Wolfsburg and Clube Atlético Mineiro in the 2017 Florida Cup.
Siaj has recorded eight goals in 42 appearances over the past two seasons in the league, including four goals a season ago for Energy FC. Formerly a standout in USL League Two for the Charlotte Eagles in the 2016 season, Siaj also scored 47 goals in 69 appearances for NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer power Pfeiffer University, where he helped the Falcons claim a national championship in the 2015 season. He was selected in the Third Round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by the Colorado Rapids before signing with the Independence for his rookie season.
“Jaime is someone that we thought we had missed out on this offseason as teams signed players, but when it came around that Jaime was still available, we were delighted,” said Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins. “It’s important that we have a lot of different attacking options and Jaime definitely brings that with his size and speed. He’s scored eight goals in the USL in 40 appearances and we don’t think he’s played in his best position yet.
“We see him fitting in nicely in a two-forward line, but he’s shown he can play wide as well. He’s 23 years old and as you look through our signings, you’ll see that we’ve gone younger and for players with a lot of energy and hunger to prove themselves.”
Born in Madrid of Spanish and Jordanian heritage, Siaj was called up to Jordan’s national team for three matches in 2018. He scored his first international goal in a friendly against Cyprus last May.
RED BULLS II RETAIN YANES, SCARLETT: The New York Red Bulls II announced they had re-signed Guatemalan defender Allen Yanes to a USL Championship contract, and signed defender Jordan Scarlett to a new contract ahead of the 2019 USL Championship season. Both signings are pending league and federation approval.
Yanes, 21, started in nine of 12 matches he appeared in for the Red Bulls II in his first season with the club. In 873 minutes played, he recorded 37 clearances, 36 interceptions, and two blocks while tallying one assist on the offensive end.
“In limited time last year, Allen proved to be a very reliable and versatile defender, two words we truly value here,” said NYRB II Head Coach John Wolyniec. “His intelligence and tactical awareness are two other qualities he possesses that we think give him a lot of potential in our system. We are very excited to keep him in our club.”
After arriving at the club, Yanes was called up and made his first appearance for the Guatemalan National team in 2018. Yanes featured as the starting right back in an international friendly against Argentina, playing for 45 minutes in Guatemala's 3-0 loss on Sept. 8.
Scarlett, 23, made 14 starts in 20 appearances in 2018, his second year with the Red Bulls II. Despite missing a third of the season to injury, he finished second on the team in clearances (102), third in blocks (12), and sixth in interceptions (45). Down the stretch, Scarlett helped NYRB II's backline as it conceded only one goal in three consecutive games to help the club’s drive to the USL Cup Playoffs, and then back-to-back clean sheets in the first two rounds of the postseason.
“It is great to have Jordan back with our team again,” said Wolyniec. “We feel he has a number of the qualities we are looking for in a first team center back and we are confident as a staff that he will do the work needed to develop in our system.”
Scarlett, a Bronx, N.Y. native, played four years at Iona College before being selected by the Red Bulls in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
EL PASO SNARES ENGLISH FOX: El Paso Locomotive FC announced it had signed 26-year-old defender Andrew Fox, pending league and federation approval, bringing aboard the former Peterborough United, Stevenage, and Grimsby Town player for its inaugural USL Championship season.
Fox played collegiately for St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, where he recorded 63 appearances and registered 36 goals from midfield. During that time, he competed for USL League Two side the Odessa/Midland Sockers in the 2015 season before joining the professional ranks with EFL League One side Peterborough that June.
Following a season with Stevenage, Fox spent the 2017 season with Swedish top tier squad, AFC Eskilstuna, where he made 13 appearances. He most recently played for Grimsby Town, where this season he had made 15 appearances for the side, including 11 in EFL League Two and two in the F.A. Cup.
“Andrew is a high-level defender. He has a lot of experience in very difficult leagues and will be a great addition to our defensive unit,” said Locomotive FC Head Coach Mark Lowry. “He is strong, has a great left foot and can play left back, left center back or on the left of a three. His arrival gives us good options tactically and strengthens our group as we push on through our pre-season and head into league play.”
OKOT MAKES MOVE UP WITH ENERGY FC: Midfielder Kal Okot became the latest signing by OKC Energy FC on Monday as he joined the professional ranks after spending 2018 with the Energy FC U23 team, where he scored two goals in 10 appearances in USL League Two.
Born in London, England, Okot moved to Oklahoma to attend the University of Science and Arts in Chickasha, Okla., where he was teammates with Energy FC goalkeeper Bryan Byars. While at USAO, Okot earned numerous individual accolades, including selection to the NAIA All-America First Team in 2014.
Prior to his time with the Energy FC organization, Okot played locally for Oklahoma City FC. Okot is also a soccer coach at Energy FC’s youth club partner, Oklahoma Energy Football Club.
“We’re thrilled to bring Kal into the group,” said Energy FC Head Coach Steve Cooke. “He’s a person of immense character, and I think he’s got everything it takes to be a great member of our team this year. From day one, he’s always worked hard, he’s always been a good teammate, and we liked him instantly for his effort and commitment when we brought him in to training last year.
“He had a really good PDL season and from that moment, we decided we would look at Kal this year. Throughout preseason, he’s worked hard. He’s been a grinder and a tremendous asset to the group, so I think he really deserves the opportunity.”