Soccer News: Arizona United Soccer Club Announces First Club Signings for 2014 USL PRO Season
On Monday, April 7, Arizona United Soccer Club (Arizona United SC) – Arizona’s only professional soccer team playing in the USL PRO league –announced the club’s first two players signed are forwards Brad Stisser and Brandon Swartzendruber. The club also announced the signing of defender Daniel Antúnez and midfielder Matt Kassel, who both competed in the 2013 Major League Soccer (MLS) season, pending league and USSF approval.
Stisser returns to USL PRO after helping the Atlanta Silverbacks finish as the 2013 North American Soccer League (NASL) Soccer Bowl runners-up. In Stisser’s lone season for the Silverbacks, he scored two goals and logged 821 minutes in 18 league appearances.
“I’m just really excited and I’m looking forward to the game this Saturday,” Stisser said. “I think the organization has done a really good job with the squad they have put together and it should be a fun year.”
A four-year professional, Stisser first turned pro in 2010 when he signed with AC St. Louis of the USSF Division 2 Professional League. Stisser enjoyed a productive season for AC St. Louis, where he notched five goals in 24 league appearances. In 2011, Stisser appeared in three matches for the Rochester Rhinos before he moved over to the Charlotte Eagles in the 2012 season, where he appeared in 10 matches.
Stisser grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and played collegiately for Coastal Carolina in 2005 before he transferred to Loyola Marymount for the remainder of his collegiate career. During his college years, Stisser played in the USL Premier Development League (PDL) for the Colorado Rapids U-23 from 2007-08 and was named to the PDL All-Western Conference Team in 2009 after playing a lone season for the Real Colorado Foxes.
|Brandon Swartzendruber joins Arizona United SC after playing for the Dayton Dutch Lions. Photo courtesy of Arizona United SC
Swartzendruber, who played at Chandler-Gilbert Community College from 2003-04, joins Arizona United SC after playing for the Dayton Dutch Lions in the 2013 USL PRO season. In his lone season for the Dutch Lions, Swartzendruber scored six goals in 25 league appearances. Swartzendruber first turned pro in 2009 when he signed with the Harrisburg City Islanders, where he appeared in 18 league matches and scored four goals.
Collegiately, Swartzendruber scored 38 goals, notched 16 assists and was a two-time First Team All-Region I and Second Team All-American in his two years at Chandler-Gilbert. He then transferred to Midwestern State University, where he scored 26 goals and recorded 18 assists from 2005-06. In his final season, he was named to the First Team All-Southwest South Conference, All-Midwest Region First Team and was named Southwest South Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
During his college career, Swartzendruber played in the USL Premier Development League for the Thunder Bay Chill from 2007-08. In his two seasons for the Chill, Swartzendruber scored 29 goals and helped the Thunder Bay Chill win the 2008 PDL Championship.
“I’m really excited about it,” Swartzendruber said. “I think we have a great group of guys and a great coach. They pulled it together really quick, but I think we will be competitive in the league.”
Antúnez has been well traveled in his six-year professional career after making his pro debut for the USL PRO Rochester Rhinos in 2008. The Santa Ana, California product played in the top division in Finland, Veikkausliiga, for FC Inter Turku in the 2010 and 2012 seasons, where he amassed over 3,500 minutes in 48 league appearances. Antúnez returned to North America twice, the first time in 2011 when he made two league appearances for Liga MX club Estudiantes Tecos. The second time was in 2013 when he made three league appearances for his hometown club Chivas USA.
“Daniel brings a great deal of experience. He is a calm, composed soccer player, who reads the game very well,” said Arizona United SC head coach Michael James Dellorusso.
Antúnez attended junior college at Lon Morris College from 2004-05 before he transferred to the University of Hartford for the remainder of his collegiate career from 2006-07. Antúnez was originally selected in the third round of the 2008 MLS Supplemental Draft by the Colorado Rapids.
“Very thankful to be here and it’s a great opportunity with the new franchise,” Antúnez said. “Seems like we have a good quality players and obviously it’s a short span before our first game, but I think we will have a good team and a good season.”
|Matt Kassel joins Arizona United SC from the MLS Philadelphia Union. Photo courtesy of Arizona United SC
Hailing from Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, Kassel joins Arizona United SC after making five appearances for the Philadelphia Union in 2013. The former Homegrown New York Red Bulls signee made two league appearances after signing with the Red Bulls in 2011. Kassel joined the USL PRO’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2012, where he scored 6 goals in 18 appearances and was named to the USL PRO All-League 2nd Team.
“Matt is a true number eight,” Dellorusso said. “He is a connecter on the field who makes everyone around him better.”
As a youth player, Kassel played for the U.S. U15 Boys’ National Team and U.S. U18 Men’s National Team and was a member of the New York Red Bulls United States Soccer Development Academy. Kassel played three seasons for the University of Maryland Terrapins, where he appeared in 68 matches and scored 11 goals while notching 24 assists. In his freshman year, Kassel was named TopDrawerSoccer.com Rookie of the Year and helped guide the Terrapins to their third NCAA Men’s Soccer National Championship.
“It’s an exciting time,” Kassel said. “I think especially for this whole community, the city of Phoenix and the whole state of Arizona. The soccer community around here is large and I think everybody knows that and it hasn’t been exposed. I’m excited to come here to help the team perform, get results, get this community on board with a winning team and a winning program.”
Arizona United SC will make its USL PRO debut at home on Saturday, April 12, at the Peoria Sports Complex against expansion side Oklahoma City Energy. Gates to Peoria Sports Complex will open at 6:00 p.m. with the match slated to kick off at 7:10 p.m.
For more information regarding Arizona United SC or to purchase tickets, visit online at www.arizonaunited.com. Fans can also follow the team on Facebook www.facebook.com/ArizonaUnitedSoccer or Twitter @AZUnitedSC.
Date of Birth: September 24, 1986
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Former club: Atlanta Silverbacks
Date of Birth: February 10, 1986
Hometown: Santa Ana, California
Former club: Chivas USA
Date of Birth: April 2, 1985
Hometown: Grand Junction, Colorado
Former club: Dayton Dutch Lions
Date of Birth: October 30, 1989
Hometown: Bridgewater, New Jersey
Former club: Philadelphia Union