Photo: Courtesy of Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation/Wikimedia Commons
The Philadelphia Union announced on Saturday the signing of 18 year old defender Damani Richards and 24 year old forward Aaron Wheeler.
Richards, who trialed with the Union in October of 2012 and played 90 minutes in the Reserve League 1-0 loss to DC United on Oct. 12, is a Trinidad & Tobago youth international, seeing time on the U-17 and U-20 national team squads. He was previously with TT Pro League club W-Connection.
Reports that Richards would be signing with the Union first emerged on Wednesday.
Wheeler, born in Baltimore, comes to the Union from Finnish first division club FC KooTeePee. A two-time NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region First Team selection and a three-time All-South Atlantic Conference First Team member at Lenoir-Rhyne University. In his senior year he transferred to Towson University.
Wheeler played for PDL club Reading Rage, now known as the Union affiliate Reading United, in 2009, scoring 17 regular season goals and being named the league’s MVP.
Wheeler signed with then USL First Division club Vancouver Whitecaps after the 2009 PDL season but never saw first team action and was released from his contract in October of 2009. He signed with USL Second Division club Tampa Bay Rowdies in the beginning of 2010. On March 19, 2010, the 6′ 4″ forward scored the winning goal in the Rowdies 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union, striking with a header in the 4th minute of the Union’s last preseason game of 2010.
After trialling with the Union in the 2011 preseason, Wheeler signed with Fort Lauderdale Strikers in November of 2011, joining former Union players Cristian Arrieta, Eduardo Coudet, Toni Stahl. He played only six games with the NASL club in the 2012 season before suffering a season-ending injury.
Wheeler signed with FC KooTeePee in March of 2012, scoring 2 goals over 17 appearances.
Player: Aaron Wheeler
Date of Birth: May 11, 1988
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
Last Club: FC KooTeePee (Finland)
Player: Damani Richards
Date of Birth: November 30, 1994
Hometown: Cocorite, Trinidad & Tobago
Citizenship: Trinidad & Tobago
Last Club: T&T U-20 National Team