Hartford Athletic have had a busy offseason so far as the 2024 campaign gets closer and closer. Our Offseason Update serves as your “go to” page for everything you need to know about Hartford’s 2024 roster, updated every week. See below our new signings categorized by position and in order of the time in which they were signed. Our latest signings were goalkeeper Greg Monroe and 18 year old midfielder Ian Shaul.
Brendan Burke, Head Coach
A proven winner, Brendan Burke has raised the level of club’s he’s led throughout his 15 years of coaching experience. As a young 25 year old, Burke took over Premier Development League (PDL) club Reading United in 2008 and led them to a first place finish and their first playoff berth in three years. He would stay with the club for six seasons up to 2013, and made the postseason in each. Fast forward to 2020, which was when Burke saw his first stint as a Head Coach in the USL Championship. He was tasked with bring Colorado Springs Switchbacks team out of a four-year postseason drought, and he delivered. The Switchbacks finished fifth in the Western Conference in 2021 and had their best season in franchise history in 2022, making it all the way to the Western Conference Semifinal match under Burke’s leadership.
Listen to what Brendan has in store for the Green and Blue by listening to his introductory press conference:
Hartford Athletic have landed a confident and versatile defender in Thomas Vancaeyezeele. The 29 year old has been an integral part to each team he’s played for in the USL Championship, including postseason berths with Pittsburgh from 2018 to 2020. An “Iron Man” type of defender, Vancaeyezeele is extremely reliable, as he led the Hounds in interceptions all three years of his tenure and minutes played in 2018 and 2020. The French Guiana International is also intelligent in knowing how to start an attack from the back, and is versatile in his ability to play across the defense and in the midfield as well.
A veteran of the USL Championship, Farrell comes to Hartford with over 1,500 minutes played in nearly 200 appearances in the league. He was the core of Pittsburgh’s defense in 2023, finishing the season with 73 clearances in 27 appearances and helping them finish first in the Eastern Conference. Perhaps Farrell’s greatest strength is his ability to win aerial duels to both clear the ball and score off corners or crosses. The 29 year old entered the USL in 2016 and since has developed into a confident and disciplined player who will be “one of the leaders of our defense this season”, according to CEO Nick Sakiewicz.
After spending two positive seasons with Memphis 901 FC, Buckmaster comes to Hartford as one of the top defenders in the league. A former MLS draft pick, Buckmaster has spent most of his career with Memphis posting 73 appearances with three goals and eight assists. The 27 year old has played against the best competition in the country and has proved to be a durable and reliable player. As a defender, Buckmaster has great ability to show patience and make the winning tackle at the right time. He also displays great vision and game IQ while moving the ball up the field by making smart and high value passes.
Hartford Athletic have locked in defender Jordan Scarlett for the 2024 season. The 29 year old New York native has made his rounds in the USL Championship, entering his 8th year in the league. After being drafted by the MLS New York Red Bulls in 2017, he competed for their reserve team for three seasons. Traveling down to the warmer weather Tampa Bay in 2020, he instantly found his stride. His three seasons for the Rowdies were his most productive, claiming top spots in the club’s clearances, interceptions, and tackles won. During his stint in the USL Championship, he has made his money through his aggressiveness and ball pursuit. He attempted to bring this playstyle to Louisville City in 2023, but his season was cut short by injury after three games. Following a full recovery, the relentless defender finds his way back to the northeast to play in Hartford. Just a two-hour drive from his hometown in the Bronx, home games have an entirely new meaning.
The young and talented Akpunonu joins Hartford near the beginning of a very promising career. The collegiate academic and athletic superstar comes off of his first professional season after being drafted in the first round of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft. He was one of the best defenders in the NCAA as a Junior, and enters his second professional season at just 21 years old. Not only is he an athletic defender with incredible mobility, but he has the touch and finesse of a midfielder or forward. He comes to Hartford to help bolster the defensive line and add depth to an already strong group.
“Pele is very versatile technically and can play multiple positions across the back and in midfield,” said Head Coach and General Manager Brendan Burke. “He has a very high IQ from a positional standpoint and great range of passing. We expect that he will challenge our otherwise experienced group of defenders right away.”
With more than 4,000 minutes over 112 appearances in Major League Soccer, Chapman will bring a sense of maturity to Hartford’s play. The midfielder spent the 2023 season with the Colorado Switchbacks where he logged 25 interceptions, 19 chances created, and 26 tackles won. Known more as a defensive midfielder, Chapman is a strong and proactive player who looks to win the ball and then distribute it to his forwards in scoring positions. The 29 year old is also incredibly composed and reliable on the ball, consistently making opponents miss with his dribbling abilities and seldom giving possession away.
The 25 year old holding midfielder comes to Hartford after spending two seasons with the Charleston Battery. As a rookie in 2022, Schmidt recorded an impressive 17 clearances, 16 interceptions, and 20 tackles won in 29 appearances. The youngster is an aggressive player with great promise and has gained valuable experience competing on championship-level rosters, most recently with the 2023 Charleston squad. In addition, the midfielder helped lead his Indiana Hoosiers to three consecutive Big Ten titles and an NCAA College Cup Final in his collegiate years.
Emmanuel Samadia is a young and energetic player who will create chances all over the field for Hartford Athletic this 2024 season. The Sierra Leone international comes to Hartford from Israeli club Hapoel Rishon LeZion, and the midfielder shows great skill on both sides of the ball. Defensively, he uses his speed to cut off passing angles for opposing midfielders, and applies pressure on defenders in their own end. Offensively, Samadia is an excellent passer with accurate crossing ability, frequently whipping in dangerous balls to the box that beg to be put in. At just 22 years old Samadia has tremendous potential and room to grow into an even more clinical player.
A high-energy player, Anderson Asiedu can provide a spark to any midfield. Asiedu has lightning-like speed on the ball, showcasing his ability to dance around opposing defenders in many of his highlights. He does well in keeping his eyes up field, consistently delivering long passes ahead to strikers going towards goal. Plus, when given space, Asiedu has the ability to deliver some firecrackers from distance. A battle-tested player in the USL Championship, Asiedu spent the last five seasons with Birmingham Legion FC.
The Green and Blue have signed on eight-year MLS veteran Marlon Hairston for the 2024 season. The 29 year old has seen success at America’s highest ranks, notching over 140 appearances and making consistent starts. Taken 12th overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by the Colorado Rapids, he wasted no time making an incredible impact. He made such an impression that he was named the Colorado Rapids’ 2016 Young Player of the Year. Hairston makes plays through his elite ball control and touch, distributing a mix of goals and assists. Most recently finding MLS playing time in 2022, he makes the switch to the USL Championship for the second time in his career. His decorated resume for a player under 30 shows great promise for Hartford Athletic.
Ian Shaul became Hartford Athletic’s eighth Academy signing in Club history on January 25th, 2024. The 18 year old midfielder has unmatched experience, already debuting in MLSNext Pro and earning an MLS Next All-Star Team selection in 2022. Plus, he trained with the U.S U17 team in Chula Vista, California in 2022 as well. Shaul will be a fun young talent to watch, as his ability to read, influence, and dictate the game is beyond his years.
“Strike the iron while it’s hot,” is a good way to describe Hartford Athletic signing Marcus Epps, because the 28 year old attacking midfielder is red hot at the moment. He’s coming off the best season of his career with FC Tulsa in 2023, wreaking chance-creating havoc all over opposing defenses with nine goals and seven assists. Epps works hard off the ball to make himself an open target in scoring areas for teammates to find him, and is just as elusive while on the ball. A player with potential to have some highlight-reel goals in Green and Blue, Epps has poured in eight goals from outside the box in his career.
Enoch Mushagalusa is a slippery striker, showing sharp skill on the ball over his four-year professional career so far. A great finisher with a powerful right foot, Mushagalusa had a standout 2022 season with LouCity, scoring 10 goals. The Democratic Republic of Congo native is a fantastic creator as well, frequently making dazzling runs in the final third and feeding balls to teammates in the box. The 24 year old is coming off a loan spell with San Diego Loyal from Louisville FC, and is back to full health after missing the final eight matches of the season due to injury.
A joy to watch, Deshane Beckford plays the game with contagious enthusiasm in addition to his top-class skill. Beckford is a must-see player in the open field, frequently breaking down the opposition by bursting through the midfield and creating chances from the outside flanks after backing up defenders. Another former Switchback reuniting with Head Coach Brendan Burke, the 25 year old Jamaican turned in his best season under Coach Burke in 2021 with Colorado Springs, boasting five goals and a career-high seven assists.
A sensational striker, Romario Williams is one of the most dynamic players in the USL Championship. He is coming off the best year of his career so far with Colorado Springs last season, bagging 15 goals with excellent efficiency (33.3% conversion rate). Williams is silky smooth on the ball, keeping it on as string as he glides through traffic inside the box. The Jamaican international has double-digit goal ability, and is bound to be a frequently seen name on the scoresheet for Hartford.
The young superstar at forward has had incredible success at the USL level. At just 23 years old, his resume shows great experience. In four USL seasons, he has started 93 of 100 appearances and boasted a whopping 32 goals and 20 assists. In 2022, he won the USL Championship Young Player of the Year award after scoring 12 goals and totalling 8 assists for Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. Making a return to the USL Championship, he adds to an already strong Hartford roster.
The 33 year old comes to Hartford Athletic from Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli with a wealth of skill and experience. Ribeiro most notably spent two seasons with the top flight Portuguese club Sporting CP, where he led his team to a Taça de Portugal victory in 2019. With a vast reach and great athleticism the 6 ‘4 Brazilian has the ability to cover ground quickly and efficiently resulting in highlight reel saves. Ribeiro also plays an aggressive style of goalkeeping, often putting his body on the line to intercept crosses and clear balls from the box.
Brooks Thompson makes his way to Hartford bringing league experience and a championship mentality to the organization. This winning frame of mind is well deserved after he helped clinch the USL League One Final with North Carolina FC. His diving save in the penalty shootout brought North Carolina a victory, their first championship since the league’s inception in 2019. In his 17 start s with North Carolina FC, he recorded 54 saves and four clean sheets. His 1.27 GAA boasted fourth best in League One, making him an incredible addition to Hartford Athletic. At only 21 years old and with experience in the USL League One, USL Championship, and MLS Next Pro, Thompson brings a level of experience seen rarely in such a young player.
Greg Monroe signs his first professional contract with Hartford, which is fitting after training with them for most of the 2023 season. He was a standout at Siena College, where he broke multiple school records. His incredible length and instincts helped him make saves anywhere between the uprights. After training with The Green and Blue, he signed an amateur contract with Austin FC II of MLS Next. The New York native stays in the northeast with this signing and is a great addition to the club’s already strong goalie group.
The Connecticut native comes to Hartford on an academy contract, after having plenty of experience with the organization. Growing up 30 minutes from Trinity Health Stadium, DiCarlo was a standout high school goalie. The All-League First Team player trained with Hartford’s first team during the 2021 and 2023 seasons, and now signs with the team while he attends the University of Dayton.