MLS NEXT Pro Ticker: Dynamo 2 signs Ifunayachi Achara, and more

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Houston Dynamo 2 have added a familiar face to MLS fans.

Ifunanyachi Achara has signed a one-year contract with the Western Conference club, Dynamo 2 announced. Achara missed the entire 2023 MLS season with the Dynamo after suffering a season-ending injury.

“Achara brings valuable experience and leadership to the group,” Dynamo Assistant General Manager Nick Kowba said. “He is still navigating his return to the field and our staff is dedicated to ensuring he has the support and resources to succeed this year.”

Achara made 29 appearances for Toronto FC from 2021-2022. He scored the game-winning goal for the Canadian club in his senior debut in 2020.

Prior to joining Toronto FC, Achara excelled at Georgetown University over four NCAA seasons.

Here is a closer look at all of the recent MLS NEXT Pro News:

Sporting KC II adds 23-year-old Beto Avila

Sporting KC II added striking help in the form of Roberto "Beto" Avila.

Avila, 23, signed a one-year contract with SKC II through the 2024 league season, the club announced. He spent parts of two seasons with Houston Dynamo 2 prior to his move to SKC II this winter. 

Avila totaled eight goals and seven assists in 20 MLS NEXT Pro appearances.

He also scored three goals and registered two assists with Charleston Battery in the USL Championship last year.

Former LAFC2 defender Julian Gaines joins Nashville SC

Former LAFC2 defender Julian Gaines is headed to a first team roster for 2024. 

Gaines signed a one-year deal with Nashville SC, the Western Conference club announced. The 21-year-old’s contract also includes option years for 2025 and 2026.

“Julian is a dynamic young player who can contribute on the flanks as both a winger and outside back,” said Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “He is someone we think could have a bright future, and we look forward to him being a part of our club.”

Gaines made 20 appearances last season for LAFC2, registering four assists in 1,565 minutes of action.

A former U.S. youth national team defender, Julian is the brother of current Austin FC winger McKinze Gaines.

Revs II sign Gevork Diarbian, Liam Butts for 2024

New England Revolution II have added midfield and forward help for 2024.

Midfielder Gevork Diarbian and forward Liam Butts both signed respective one-year contracts for the upcoming MLS NEXT Pro campaign.

The 22-year-old Diarbian returns to the Revs organization after graduating from the club’s academy in 2019. He spent four seasons at Providence College where he totaled 12 goals and 17 assists in 64 appearances for the Friars.

Diarbian earned three-consecutive All-Big East Second Team honors in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Butts, 23, graduated from Penn State University in 2023 after scoring 25 goals and adding eight assists in 72 appearances over five seasons. 

The striker was named to the second team All-Big Ten in his senior season after recording seven goals and three assists in 13 appearances. Butts joined Revolution II as a trialist during preseason earlier this year.

LA Galaxy II adds academy prospect Ruben Ramos Jr

LA Galaxy II will have a promising academy prospect to call on during the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Ruben Ramos Jr will join Galaxy II for the upcoming campaign, the club announced. Ramos Jr will occupy a homegrown player spot with the Galaxy, but first will earn valuable experience with Galaxy II.

The 17-year-old recorded two goals and one assist in nine appearances with Galaxy II during the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro campaign. Ramos Jr was notably part of the LA Galaxy Under-17 side that won the 2023 U-17 MLS NEXT Cup in June 2023.

On the international level, Ramos Jr has featured for both the U.S. Under-15 and Under-16 boys national teams.

Dynamo 2 acquires forward Exon Arzu on season-long loan

Houston Dynamo 2 have added additional attacking help for the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro campaign.

Exon Arzú joined Dynamo Dos on loan from Honduran side Real Club Deportivo España. The 19-year-old is a rising prospect in the Honduran national team ranks. Arzu made 22 appearances for Real España since debuting for the club in 2022.

“We are excited to add an explosive and dynamic attacking player like Exon to our roster for the upcoming season. Our technical staff is looking forward to providing a competitive environment that will continue Exon’s development and yield results on the field,” Dynamo Assistant General Manager Nick Kowba said. “In addition to providing opportunities for domestic players and our academy, we are rebuilding the roster with international talents, leveraging our new analytics and scouting processes.”

Rapids 2 add defender Hal Uderitz

Colorado Rapids 2 added one of the premier MLS NEXT Pro defenders. 

Hal Uderitz signed a one-year contract with Rapids 2, the club announced. The 24-year-old makes the move to Colorado after spending the last two seasons with Tacoma Defiance.

Uderitz originally was drafted No. 76 overall in the 2022 MLS Draft by the Sounders. He mainly featured for the Defiance, logging 43 combined appearances, scoring six goals, and adding one assist.

“Hal is an important signing for the group. His experience and versatility will be valuable to a team that has a lot of new faces. His ability to settle the game, his competitiveness and his clear ambition make him an exciting prospect,” said Rapids 2 General Manager Brian Crookham. 

Prior to his professional career, Uderitz spent three years at Seattle University where he recorded 13 goals and nine assists across 69 appearances with the Redhawks.

Rapids 2 sign midfielder Ricardo Peña

Colorado Rapids 2 added youth to their midfield in the form of Ricardo Peña.

The 19-year-old Peña joins on a season-long loan from Costa Rican side FC Moravia, the club announced. Peña's loan spell also includes a club option to buy for 2025.

“Ricardo is part of a very good generation of young talent in Costa Rica,” Rapids 2 general manager Brian Crookham said. “He exhibits many of the traits we want in a midfielder. He is forward thinking on the ball, aggressive in defending actions and aware in transitions. We believe his experiences at both the international and club level provide him with a good foundation to make his next step forward with our organization.”

During his club career to date, Peña has featured for FC Moravia, FC Spartak Trnava, OFK Malženice and Real Betis’ third team. He has also worked his way up the ranks of the Costa Rican national team. Peña made his senior national team debut in June 2023 during the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Dynamo 2 signs defender Obafemi Awodesu, goalkeeper Nico Hansen

The Houston Dynamo bolstered their defensive and goalkeeping options for the upcoming league campaign.

Obafemi Awodesu and Nico Hansen both signed respective one-year MLS NEXT Pro contracts for 2024.

Awodesu recently completed a four-year collegiate career at Penn State University, where he excelled for the Nittany Lions. Awodesu also featured in the Philadelphia Union academy prior to signing for Penn State.

He earned Big Ten Defender of the Year honors in both 2022 and 2023, while also being named to the All-Big Ten First Team (2023) and Second Team (2022). Awodesu made 65 appearances during his four seasons, scoring six goals and also lifting the Big Ten Championship once, Big Ten Tournament Title twice, and regular season title once.

Hansen previously featured for the youth academies of Everton, Swansea City, and Atherton Collieries FC. He joined Atherton Collieries in August 2022 and finished with 12 clean sheets in 52 overall appearances.

Union II adds defender Randy Meneses on season-long loan 

Philadelphia Union II also made a defensive acquisition this week, adding Randy Meneses on loan from Liga Deportiva Universitaria De Quito.

The 19-year-old Meneses will spend 2024 with Marlon LeBlanc’s squad after spending the last few seasons with LDU Quito’s Under-20 side. Prior to joining LDU Quito, Meneses played for CD El Nacional’s U-20 team.

On the international level, Meneses has earned five caps for Ecuador’s U-20 national team.

“Randy brings a blend of skill and power to Union II,” said LeBlanc. “He is a young, talented defender with a proven track record in Ecuador's youth national teams and we feel confident he’ll contribute to the team’s success.”

Austin FC II signs Jimmy Farkarlun, Antonio Gomez for 2024

Austin FC II added two additional players to their roster for the upcoming MLS NEXT Pro campaign. 

Winger Jimmy Farkarlun and defender Antonio Gomez signed respective multi-year contracts, the club announced. 

Farkarlun was selected by Austin FC with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2024 MLS Draft. He played collegiately at both Houston Christian University and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

In total, Farkarlun scored 22 goals and added eight assists across 59 combined appearances.

Gomez played collegiately at California Baptist University, logging 71 appearances for the Lancers. The Nevada native earned WAC All-Freshman honors in 2021, Second Team All-WAC honors in 2022, and made the WAC All-Tournament team in 2023 as CBU won the conference title.

Former St. Louis CITY2 goalkeeper Michael Creek joins FC Tulsa

Former St. Louis CITY2 goalkeeper Michael Creek has made his move to the USL Championship. 

Creek signed with FC Tulsa on a one-year contract, the club and league announced. A Missouri native, Creek spent the last two seasons with CITY2, totaling 22 appearances under John Hackworth and Bobby Murphy respectively. 

He registered three clean sheets in his time with the Western Conference club. 

Creek also spent time with St. Louis CITY’s first team in 2023.

Crew 2 adds goalkeeper Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson became the newest member of Columbus Crew 2. The 21-year-old goalkeeper signed a one-year contract for the upcoming league campaign.

He spent four years at Southern Methodist University, where he made 52 appearances for the Mustangs. Johnson logged 4,551 minutes, 136 saves, and 18 shutouts, while also earning 2023 American Athletic Conference (AAC) Goalkeeper of the Year.

“Cole is a skilled shot-stopper, and we are very excited to be adding him to our talented pool of goalkeepers competing with Crew 2,” said Corey Wray, Crew 2 General Manager. “He brings valuable experience from his collegiate career, and we look forward to helping him continue to develop, as an athlete and as an individual.”

Crew 2 opens their 2024 regular season schedule on March 17 against New York Red Bulls II.