MLS NEXT Pro Ticker: Rapids 2 loan Yosuke Hanya, Union II sign David Vazquez and more

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Yosuke Hanya has joined USL Championship side Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC for the upcoming league season. The 25-year-old midfielder excelled for Rapids 2 over the past two seasons, totaling 17 goals and 13 assists, and earning the club’s first-ever Rapids 2 Player of the Year award.

He also was named to the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Best XI. Hanya made two senior appearances for the Rapids first team last year.

Prior to joining the Rapids organization, the Japan native spent three years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he totaled two goals and 17 assists across three seasons.

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

LA Galaxy signs Aaron Bibout to first-team roster

The LA Galaxy bolstered their attacking options in the form of one of Galaxy II’s 2023 standouts.

Aaron Bibout signed a two-year MLS contract with the Galaxy, which includes two option years for 2026 and 2027. He will occupy an international roster slot on the first-team roster.

“Aaron is a promising young striker who came to the Galaxy via our partnership with the Kadji Sports Academy in Douala, Cameroon after making a positive impact with LA Galaxy II last season,” said LA Galaxy General Manager Will Kuntz. “We look forward to Aaron’s continued progression with the group.”

Bibout was one of the key bright spots for Galaxy II in 2023, leading the team with 19 goal contributions (14 goals, five assists). His 14 goals were ranked as the seventh-most in MLS NEXT Pro last season.

Columbus Crew 2 adds forward Jayden Da

The Columbus Crew’s first round selection from the 2024 MLS Draft will be heading into MLS NEXT Pro.

Jayden Da signed a one-year contract with Crew 2 for the upcoming season, the club announced. Da was selected No. 29 overall by the Crew in last December’s draft after spending the last three years at Duquesne University.

While at Duquesne, Da made 46 appearances, registered 1,764 minutes, eight goals, and four assists. He was named to the 2023 All-Atlantic 10 Second Team and led the Dukes to the 2021 A-10 championship game.

Prior to his move to Duquesna, Da played his freshman season at Washington & Jefferson College where he was named Presidents’ Athletic Conference Player (PAC) and Newcomer of the Year after leading the conference in points (17) and assists (five) for the 2020-21 season.

Toronto FC II adds Nathaniel Edwards, Mark Fisher for 2024 MLS NEXT Pro campaign

Toronto FC II made a pair of roster moves, bolstering their defensive and midfield options.

Nathaniel Edwards Mark Fisher both signed one-year deals to join Gianni Cimini’s squad for 2024.

“We are delighted to have Nate join our roster for the upcoming MLS NEXT Pro season,” said Cimini. “He is a player we have been keeping a close eye on over the past two years. He will offer an attacking threat with his ability to run in behind as well as his dribbling ability in 1-on-1 scenarios.”

Edwards, 21, split his NCAA career between Syracuse University and Purdue University Fort Wayne. The Brampton, Ontario native spent his senior year with Syracuse University, where he made 21 appearances and recorded one goal and four assists for the Orange in 2023. 

He also represented Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he made 40 appearances and recorded two goals and one assist through three seasons.

The 23-year-old Fisher spent the past four years at Stanford University, where he registered five goals and eight assists across 63 combined appearances. As a senior and team captain, the Michigan native registered a career-high in goals and assists in 2023 and led the Cardinal to its best finish in the NCAA tournament since 2019.

Chicago Fire II signs 2024 draft pick Jason Shokalook

Chicago Fire FC II signed forward Jason Shokalook ahead of the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season. 

Shokalook, who was selected No. 35 by the Fire in the 2024 MLS Draft, signed a two-year contract through 2025. 

“We are very happy to welcome Jason to Chicago Fire FC II,” said Chicago Fire FC II General Manager Alex Boler. “We have followed his successful college career for a while and believe he has all the qualities to make an impact in this Club. He is a striker that has a high soccer IQ and is driven to compete and improve every day.”

Shokalook, 21, joins the Fire after a four-year career at the University of Akron. As a member of the Zips, Shokalook was voted the 2023 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year after making 17 appearances and leading the team in goals (14) and assists (five). 

In total, Shokalook logged 59 appearances for the Zips, totaling 26 goals and 17 assists. He also earned several individual honors at Akron during the program’s time in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).

NYCFC II signs academy midfielder Peter Molinari to MLS NEXT Pro deal

Peter Molinari committed his long-term future to New York City FC and NYCFC II.

Molinari signed a three-year MLS NEXT Pro contract through 2026, the Eastern Conference club announced. The 14-year-old will then join the first team as a homegrown player through 2029, which includes a club option for 2030.

Molinari joined New York City’s Academy in 2020 and participated in the Under-14 East Mallorca Cup and the Portimão International Cup in 2022. 

He most recently competed in the Under-15 Academy friendlies in Manchester, England last year. 

“I am so excited to sign with New York City and be a part of this organization for years to come,” said Molinari. “Since the first day I arrived at the club, I was welcomed with open arms by everyone within the organization, and now feel like I am part of the family. I know this is just the beginning. I will work hard every day to continue to develop and fine-tune my skills. I look forward to taking this next step in my career and showing what I’m capable of. I can’t wait to work with the coaching staff and compete with my teammates to bring this club more trophies.”

Crew 2 adds forward Brent Adu-Gyamfi, Christopher Pearson for 2024 league season

Columbus Crew 2 added attacking and midfield help ahead of the upcoming 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Brent Adu-Gyamfi and Christopher Pearson both signed respective one-year contracts, the club announced. The 20-year-old Adu-Gyamfi originally made 20 appearances for Crew 2 in 2023, logging one goal in 597 minutes of action.

Adu-Gyamfi joined the Crew’s academy in 2019 and since has moved his way into the second-team ranks within the organization.

Pearson spent 2023 with both FC Tulsa of the USL Championship and Huntsville City FC in MLS NEXT Pro. The 21-year-old logged 16 appearances and 445 minutes for Tulsa before playing 279 combined minutes with Huntsville City FC.

He is a former Jamaican youth national team player.

Anthony Ramirez signs one-year deal with North Texas SC

North Texas SC has continued to provide opportunities to their academy players with Anthony Ramirez becoming the latest signing for 2024.

Ramirez, 18, signed a one-year MLS NEXT Pro contract, the club announced. He made 14 appearances for the Western Conference club in 2023, registering two goals and two assists. His brace came against LA Galaxy II during the regular season schedule last summer.

“I had the pleasure of coaching Anthony when he first started his journey in our Academy. We knew very early on that we had a fantastic talent” said North Texas SC Head Coach John Gall. “He has worked tirelessly over the years and has continued developing. He’s an exciting attacking player that plays tremendously well between lines and tight spaces. He’s a dynamic, dangerous and the type of player that excites fans. We are delighted that we get to continue the pathway with him.”

A Dallas native, Ramirez joined the FC Dallas Academy system at 12-years-old and has also featured for multiple U.S. and Mexican youth national teams.

Austin FC II adds Bobosi Byaruhanga, Ruben Bonachera to MLS NEXT Pro roster

Austin FC II made a pair of signings to pad their roster for a potential title run.

Midfielder Bobosi Byaruhanga and defender Rubén Bonachera both officially signed with the club. Byaruhanga joined on a season-long loan from MFK Vyskov while Bonachera signed a two-year deal after transferring from Polish side Wisla Krakow II.

Byaruhanga, 22, appeared in 26 matches last season as Austin FC II lifted the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Cup. He scored one goal and added three assists for Brett Uttley’s men while also becoming the first Austin FC II to earn a senior national team call-up.

Byaruhanga has earned 18 caps to date for the Ugandan national team. 

The 20-year-old Bonachera has mainly featured as a left back to date after previously featuring in the youth systems of Cornella and Villarreal.

Bonachera made four appearances for Villarreal’s U-19 side in the UEFA Youth League before also making one appearance for Wisła Kraków’s reserve team.

FC Cincinnati 2 adds midfielder Peter Mangione

FC Cincinnati 2 added former Penn State University standout midfielder Peter Mangione to its MLS NEXT Pro roster. 

Mangione joins the Orange and Blue following a four-year collegiate career at Penn State University. He netted 31 goals and added 16 assists during his time in Happy Valley.

He earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors during his sophomore season while also earning Big 10 All-Freshman team honors. Mangione was also selected to the All-Big 10 First Team on three separate occasions and also made an appearance on the Hermann Trophy short list in 2022.

Mangione is the 12th player on the FCC2 roster for 2024.

Philadelphia Union II sign David Vazquez to MLS NEXT Pro roster

David Vazquez will be part of Marlon LeBlanc’s Philadelphia Union II roster for the second-consecutive season. 

Vazquez was signed to an MLS NEXT Pro contract for 2024, the club announced. The 18-year-old scored five goals and added two assists in 22 appearances for Union II last season. 

He earned MLS NEXT Pro Rising Star of the Matchday honors on two occasions.

“Since joining the academy David has shown immense growth in development and has proven to be a highly intelligent player,” said LeBlanc. “At a young age, he has the attributes needed to grow in to a productive and pivotal asset to the team, and we look forward to watching him develop in his second season.”

Internationally, Vazquez has earned 17 appearances for the U.S. Under-17 men’s national team. A standout player at the 2023 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, Vasquez registered four assists for the Americans en route to a second-place finish that secured a 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup berth. 

He did score once in the 2023 U-17 World Cup Round of 16 showdown with Germany.