Share this article

print logo

Donaldson, Persson, Byles headline Wolves' 12 new signings

Decorated Hartwick College junior Jack Donaldson, America East Conference stalwart Philip Persson and former Arsenal FC Academy standout Sam Byles appear to be the three marquee additions in FC Buffalo's contingent of new signings.

In all, the Wolves added 12 players to their roster, bringing the total to 31. Previous signing Jack Fisher has decided to go back to England for the summer, the club confirmed, while St. Francis winger Andres Vega suffered a long-term injury. A handful of players are still expected to be named.

[Look back at the first tier of FC Buffalo signings]

Here's a quick primer on the players that FC Buffalo has brought in:

*Jack Donaldson, holding midfielder: The Hartwick junior, who was named to the Sun Belt Conference second team, will add bite to the FC Buffalo midfield, serving as a nice complement to college teammate and fellow Wolf Jamie O'Grady. Donaldson is having a nice spring, too, notching a brace in a 3-2 Hartwick win over Niagara. He'll likely be a regular part of the starting XI.

[Listen to Donaldson's interview in Episode 20 of "The Football Club of Buffalo Show"]

*Philip Persson, attacking midfielder, winger: The Albany-to-Buffalo pipeline remains strong, as Persson joins Great Danes teammate Keith Traut for the summer. There's no shortage of players competing for the No. 10 role, but the four-year starter has an edge in experience over many of his competitors.

Philip Persson, second from left, chases down a Siena midfielder. (Albany Athletics)

Philip Persson, second from left, chases down a Siena midfielder. (Albany Athletics)

*Sam Byles, outside back, center midfielder: The biggest wild card of the bunch, Byles' pedigree is strong, having played youth football as an outside back for Arsenal FC Academy and spending time with the England U-16 national team.

After losing his academy spot, Byles has thrived in a center midfield role for Team Solent, a club affiliated with Southampton University. He'll be hungry to make an impression stateside, and that journey will begin in Buffalo.

[Listen to Byles' interview on "The Football Club of Buffalo Show"]

*Jim Orvis, outside midfielder: If little is known about Byles, even less is known about Orvis. The former described the latter as a workhorse on the wings, a gritty player and good teammate. His background involves time in the youth systems of clubs like Cambridge United and Northampton Town.

*Alex Dimitriu, striker: The enigmatic Niagara University striker boasts an increasingly rare quality for a forward -- an innate nose for the net. As a freshman, he paced the Purple Eagles in goals with six, trusting his acceleration and cheeky finishing inside the opposing 18-yard box.

The 5'7 Canadian must continue to mature on the field, but if he stays level-headed, he could make an impact for the Wolves.

Alex Dimitriu celebrates a goal for Niagara against Big 4 rival St. Bonaventure. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

Alex Dimitriu celebrates a goal for Niagara against Big 4 rival St. Bonaventure. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

*Anthony Gaglianese, holding midfielder: Strong on the ball with a soft touch, the Fairport native carved out a role on St. Bonaventure as a freshman. Although he'll have an uphill battle for playing time in a crowded midfield, training in a semi-pro atmosphere will be invaluable before he heads back to Kwame Oduro's side in the fall.

*Justin Figler, goalkeeper: Coming off injury, the Daemen College keeper -- whose older brother, Jeremy, is a former FC Buffalo player -- should contend with Steve Casey for the No. 2 role behind Nick Jeffs, although no starter has been officially named.

As a freshman starter for the Wildcats, Figler faced a startling 224 shots. A strong summer with FC Buffalo could be enough to solidify his starting role under new Daemen head coach Bobby McColl.

Grand Island native Justin Figler will compete for time in goal for FC Buffalo. (Daemen Athletics)

Grand Island native Justin Figler will compete for time in goal for FC Buffalo. (Daemen Athletics)

*Matt Lopoyda, midfielder: The good news: the Belmont freshman carved out a regular starting role as a freshman, playing virtually every position except keeper. The bad news? The Bruins went 4-13-2 and 1-7-1 in conference. The Empire Revolution product played academy with FC Buffalo's Isaiah Barrett and Steve Casey, so he'll be surrounded by familiar faces in his first summer with the Wolves.

*Steve Pondeca, striker: The Niagara forward has been in the news for the wrong reasons this spring, but on the field, he continues to show potential as a speedy forward or a winger who can run at defenders. If FC Buffalo head coach Brendan Murphy needs to inject some life into his side, Pondeca could pressure defenses off the bench.

Steve Pondeca has been added to the FC Buffalo roster. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

Steve Pondeca, right, has been added to the FC Buffalo roster. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

*Adel Rahman, midfielder: The German-born midfielder wasn't handed much playing time by previous Niagara head coach Eric Barnes, but he'll have a clean slate under new gaffer Bill Boyle. He will likely hold a depth role for FC Buffalo unless he impresses in training.

*Nikko Richards, fullback: The St. Bonaventure freshman from the Rochester area red-shirted in fall 2015 after six years with Empire Academy clubs in Buffalo and Rochester. This summer will be a tremendous learning experience for Richards.

*Morgan Smith, striker: The 6'1 forward joins Austin Dilts and Ross Suitor as the three St. Lawrence University players on FC Buffalo's roster. Entering his senior season, Smith is well traveled -- he was originally recruited to Syracuse, where he spent a year before transferring to SLU. As a junior, the Saratoga Springs native tallied five assists in his return from a long-term knee injury.

Adel Rahman, right, played a reserve midfield role for the Purple Eagles last fall. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

Adel Rahman, right, played a reserve midfield role for the Purple Eagles last fall. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

Email Ben Tsujimoto at btsujimoto@buffnews.com

Story topics: / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment