Philadelphia Union today announced that the club has signed forward Aaron Wheeler and defender Damani Richards (left in above image). The 6-4 Wheeler joins the Union from Finnish club FC KooTeePee, while Richards, 18, has been a regular with the Trinidad & Tobago U-17 and U-20 National Teams. Richards will be eligible to play for the Union upon receipt of his visa and international transfer certificate. Per MLS and club policy, terms of the deals will not be disclosed.
The new additions also brought about some jersey number changes as well. Wheeler will wear No. 12 taking the old number of forward Chandler Hoffman who will now sport No. 17. Richards will wear No. 22. Two additional numbers were assigned to forwards Cristhian Hernandez (No. 23) and Conor Casey (No. 6).
Wheeler, 24, played three years of college soccer at Lenoir-Rhyne University before transferring to Towson University prior to his senior year. While at Lenoir-Rhyne, he was a two-time NSCAA All-South Atlantic Region First Team selection and a three-time All-South Atlantic Conference First Team member. In 2009, Wheeler starred for Union PDL affiliate Reading United (then Reading Rage), leading the league in scoring with 17 goals and earned the PDL Most Valuable Player award. He has also seen time with FC Tampa Bay and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League (NASL).
While a member of the T&T U-20 team, Richards participated in the Caribbean zone of the FIFA Youth World Cup qualifiers last year, earning a 2-1 win over Guyana and a 1-0 loss to Curacao. He also played in four U-17 World Cup qualifying matches in Jamaica, helping the team to a 2-1-1 record. Formerly with the club, W Connection, Richards spent 10 days on trial with the Union in October, seeing action in the club’s Reserve game against DC United.
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