Over the last week the size of the roster for the Swope Park Rangers has grown by five. Last week they signed Tomas Granitto and Jimmy Mulligan and this week they added academy contracts for Ezra Armstrong, Will Little and Steven Tekesky.
Granitto plays midfielder and joins the Rangers from Edmonton FC (NASL). He played all four games while on trial at the Desert Diamond Cup and actually scored a goal against the Columbus Crew. While just 22-years-old, Granitto has featured for his native El Salvadorian National Team (though he was raised in Florida).
“Joining the Swope Park Rangers is an important move in my career,” Granitto said. “I am proud to be part of an organization where the players and staff have the same goals and ambitions. I am very excited to start the regular season, and help the team achieve our goals.”
Mulligan is a defender who is just 24-years-old himself. He played for the New York Cosmos (NASL) the last two seasons and St Johns University before that. He also featured in all four Desert Diamond Cup games for Swope, despite joining the team while they were already in Tucson.
“I’m really excited to join the Swope Park Rangers. It’s a big step in my career,” Mulligan said. “It’s a new organization for me, a new team and I’m really happy to be a part of it. I want to thank the Cosmos for the opportunities they’ve given me and this is another great chance to progress in my career.”
The other three signings, Armstrong, Little and Tekesky are already a part of the Sporting Kansas City academy. They haven’t given up any college eligibility or their spots on the academy squads, so it seems they will remain amateurs.
“It was very important from the start to have a relationship between Sporting KC, the Swope Park Rangers and the Academy,” Swope Park Rangers head coach Marc Dos Santos said. “Signing Ezra, Will and Steven shows our commitment to continuing that integration and shows Academy players that they’ll always have a chance of moving up the ranks. The Rangers give them that stepping stone moving forward, so I think it’s a credit to the Academy and the individual players.”
Armstrong, who is just 17-years-old, joined the academy from Sporting KC Academy affiliate Sporting Nashville Heroes. He is a defender and played in all four DDC games at left back and assisted on the last second goal to tie the Columbus Crew. His father is Desmond Armstrong, who is in the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
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Little is also from Tennessee and is also 17-years-old. He lines up in the midfield and has contributed 15 goals while at the SKC Academy. He was with the Rangers during the DDC and also came on in the second half for Dom Dwyer in Sporting’s final match-up of the preseason against the Houston Dynamo. Though he replaced Dwyer, he lined up on the wing. It’s unclear if he’ll play there for Swope or in one of the three midfield positions of the 4-3-3.
Tekesky grew up in Raymore, Missouri and has been with the SKC Academy since 2010. He is 18-years-old and has also been with the Rangers throughout preseason in Tucson. He was also selected for the Generation Adidas Elite Soccer Program (ESP) in 2014 where he competed with fellow MLS Academy products and against Bayern Munich’s U-16 team. He is a goalkeeper.
That brings the Swope Park Rangers up to 20 players on their roster. USL teams can have up to 30 players on their roster, though no more than seven can be international players and at least 12 must be professionals. The academy players won’t count towards that total, but the team has been over the 12 threshold for a few weeks. In fact, teams can have up to five academy players that don’t even count to the 30 player total.
Get to know the players a little more with their vitals from SportingKC.com:
Tomas Granitto (TOH-mas GRAN-EE-toh)
Born: 6/12/93 (22 years old)
Weight: 165 lbs.
College: Florida Gulf Coast University
Last Club: FC Edmonton (NASL)
Hometown: Weston, Fla.
Birthplace: San Salvador, El Salvador
Born: 8/12/1991 (24 years old)
Weight: 160 lbs.
College: St. John’s University
Last Club: New York Cosmos (NASL)
Hometown: Medford, N.Y.
Birthplace: Medford, N.Y.
Born: 12/15/98 (17 years old)
Weight: 155 lbs.
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
Birthplace: Gastonia, N.C.
Born: 4/9/98 (17 years old)
Weight: 125 lbs.
Hometown: Johnson City, Tenn.
Birthplace: Johnson City, Tenn.
Born: 1/20/98 (18 years old)
Weight: 165 lbs.
Hometown: Raymore, Mo.
Birthplace: San Bernadino, Calif.