Louisville City FC has signed defender Tarek Morad and midfielder Enrique Montano, the club announced on Thursday. The newest members of Orlando City SC's USL affiliate become the 11th and 12th players signed in club history.
Tarek Morad, a 22-year-old Chico, CA, native, comes to Louisville from USL side OKC Energy, where he appeared in 13 games in 2014 for Coach Jimmy Nielsen, the former Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper. A two-year team captain and first-team All-League player in high school, Morad was slated to attend UC-Riverside before coaches there rescinded his scholarship offer, forcing the 6-foot-2 prospect to attend Mt. San Antonio College.
Achieving All-South Coast Conference status, Morad led the Mounties to a conference title and a California Junior College State Championship before transferring to UC-Irvine in 2011, where he was converted from a midfielder to a central defender. As team co-captain, Morad was part of a stout Anteater defense which recorded 10 shutouts while winning the Big West Conference Tournament and earning a berth into the NCAA Tournament third round. Morad has also spent time with the Chivas USA U-23 squad, and was a preseason trialist with the Seattle Sounders last season.
"Tarek has great ball control and physicality," Louisville City Head Coach James O'Connor said in a release. "He has the kind of leadership qualities that we're looking for to be one of the leaders on our team."
Here are Morad's college highlights.
Enrique Montano comes to Louisville City as the first player without prior professional experience to sign with the club. The 6-foot-1 Salinas, CA, native was his team's MVP in high school before spending one season at Hartnell College, where he registered two goals and nine assists en route to the California Junior College State Championship Final, which his Panthers lost 1-0 to Morad's former Mt. San Antonio teammates.
From there, Montano transferred to San Jose State where he scored two goals while registering three assists in 53 appearances with the Spartans over three seasons. Montano, 21, is listed as a holding midfielder and left back in his personal highlight reel (embedded below), but Louisville lists him just as a midfielder.
"We see so much potential in what Enrique will be able to bring to our club," O'Connor said via release. "He's another player we are happy to have signed and know he will play a huge role in our success."
Here are Montano's highlights (check out that free kick!).
Morad and Montano join the budding Louisville City FC roster, which already includes four defenders, five midfielders and a lone forward (which means there's still room for Cyle Larin *fingers crossed*).
Preseason Slate Announced, With Additional Friendly Yet To Be Announced
Louisville City released its inaugural preseason schedule on Wednesday, which will see the brand new club play six different local college teams in the buildup to its regular season opener at home against Saint Louis FC on March 28.
"After more than a week of training it will be nice to face an opponent other than ourselves," head coach James O'Connor said in a press release. "It will be a great test for us and give us a chance to see how our guys play in a live-game situation against programs that have a tradition of winning. They'll each provide us with a strong test that is sure to prepare us for the regular season."
In addition to the announced preseason schedule, rumors of a potential friendly between Louisville City and NASL side Indy 11 began to circulate on reddit. Louisville City and Indy 11 have confirmed to The Mane Land that the friendly between the two clubs "is in the works" with an announcement on the details of the match "in the coming days" after the Indianapolis club completes and announces the rest of its preseason slate.
Preseason Camp Has Officially Started; Who's That Goalkeeper?
Louisville City had to postpone the beginning of its preseason training camp on Monday, after the well-below-freezing temperatures brought nearly a foot of snow to Louisville on Monday.
TRAINING UPDATE: The snow has kept the team off the pitch today. The Courier-Journal reports here: http://t.co/PuuTcISvcI— Louisville City FC (@loucityfc) February 16, 2015
However, the weather couldn't keep O'Connor and his team off of the field for long, as they took to the indoor facility at the Mockingbird Valley complex. The club has been posting video of the practice sessions to its Vine account.
While the club has yet to announce the signing of a goalkeeper, there appears to be one in camp. Stay tuned to my twitter account for the updates as they occur.
With the close of the "Founding Member" season ticket period, Louisville City announced that single-game tickets are now available for the season opener in the inaugural "Kings Cup" rivalry against Saint Louis on March 28. Tickets start as low as $15, and you can get them if you follow this link or by calling 502-384-8799. The club is hoping to have as many fans as possible join the Louisville Coopers and the newly formed Louisville Heretics at the field on opening day.
"Our home opener at Louisville Slugger Field will be an event that fans will remember for years to come," said general manager Amanda Duffy via press release. "At 13,000+ strong on March 28, the impression we will make on the soccer community will be vast and the evening will set the tone for a new club in the new era of USL. We want to provide every opportunity for our fans to be a part of this unique and memorable experience."
That's it for this week's Louisville City Update. Expect more signings to keep rolling in, with a few Orlando City Lion's joining them in the coming weeks. See you next week.