Three all-conference selections make up most recent group to join team
Tucson, AZ (Tuesday, April 29, 2014) — Today, FC Tucson announced a final group of seven signings to fill out most of its roster heading into the first week of the 2014 season: defenders Michael DeGraffenreidt, Otis Earle, Peter Kelly, Austin Ledbetter and Trevor Morley; forward Odaine Sinclair and midfielder Santiago Velez. The club has a total of 23 players signed. League rules allow teams to have up to 26 players rostered at any given time.
“With these signings, we are adding a great mix of youth and experience,” said FC Tucson General Manager Jon Pearlman. “Most importantly we are adding impact players on both sides of the ball for now and the future. Coach Schantz and I feel we have addressed needs and concerns from last year; we think this is a special group.”
DeGraffenreidt finished his freshman season at the University of Louisville in 2013. He started in 17 of the 18 matches he appeared in as a defender and helped the Cardinals win the American Athletic Conference regular season championship. In high school he was named Maryland’s Soccer Player of the Year and was 52nd in ESPN’s Top 150.
Earle appeared in 19 matches for UC Riverside where he was a teammate of former FC Tucson player Aaron Long. As a defender, Earle tallied three assist and one goal in those 19 matches. During his sophomore season in 2012, Earl was third on the team in points (10) and second in assists (6) while adding two goals.
Kelly, a Second-Team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection in 2012, finished his senior season at Southern Illinois Edwardsville with five goals and three assists. He also ended his college career by making the Missouri Valley Conference All-Tournament Team. Most recently, Kelly played with FC Tucson during MLS Preseason.
Ledbetter, a Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman Team selection, was one of just four players at Southern Illinois Edwardsville to start all 19 matches in 2013. As a centerback, the Cougars allowed just 17 goals all season. In 2012, as a senior in high school, Ledbetter was a Second-Team All State selection. His club team, St. Louis Scott Galagher, also reached the finals of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Nationals. Ledbetter is the second player from SIUE to sign with FC Tucson (Christian Volesky).
Morley, a First Team All-Big West selection, started 22 matches at centerback for Cal State Northridge. With Morley helping to anchor the back line, the Matadors won 15 matches in 2013 (seven of them shutouts) and reached the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to Stanford.
Sinclair is the third player to be signed from Major Indoor Soccer League side St. Louis Ambush (Andres Acosta, Dan Antoniuk). The Kingston, Jamaica-native scored 12 goals and notched 12 assists in 19 matches for the Ambush. In 2012, he finished his senior year at NAIA school Barker University. He was a First Team All-Heart of America Conference selection. In 17 matches, he scored five goals and added an assist.
Velez appeared in 16 matches for the University of Louisville and scored one goal and had one assist in 2013. He helped the Cardinals win the American Athletic Conference regular season championship. Prior to joining the Cardinals, Velez played for a season with Ohio State in 2011, appearing in six matches. As a high schooler, Velez helped Niwot High School reach three consecutive state championship matches (2008-2010), and won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Velez is one of four players from Louisville on the FC Tucson roster. (Michael DeGraffenreidt, Ricardo Velazco and Ivan Gutierrez)
FC Tucson plays its first match of 2014 at the Kino Sports Complex North Stadium on Saturday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. The 2014 FC Tucson Open House presented by Chapman Automotive will feature FC Tucson against national collegiate power University of New Mexico. Fans wearing FC Tucson gear or the Chapman Automotive logo, or fans who have season tickets, can get in for free. Tickets for others are just $5 and can be purchased at FCTucson.com.
Season tickets are also still available but seating is limited. Fans can purchase a basic package for just $80. Or they can join The Upper 90 Club for $120, which includes a pass to “Meet the Team Day,” a $10 concessions voucher, an FC Tucson merchandise item and an Upper 90 Club card that will be good for gameday discounts and future events. To purchase season tickets, just head to FCTucson.com.