HARTFORD, Jan. 25, 2021 – The Hartford Athletic pro soccer team has announced a new partnership with an English professional soccer club – Leyton Orient, the second oldest soccer club in London.
The two clubs will be supporting each other on and off the field. New Athletic coach Harry Watling will be meeting with the Leyton Orient head coach Ross Embleton and his staff over the coming weeks.
There is the potential for player loan transfers, future soccer camps and clinics in Hartford, a challenge series activation between players, coaches and fans and a possible cultural exchange to provide fans with the opportunity to visit the clubs in their respective cities.
Leyton Orient plays in the EFL League Two, the fourth division of English soccer behind the Premier League, EFL Championship and EFL League One. Leyton Orient, currently ninth in EFL League Two with a 11-10-3 record, was established in 1881.
“As we enter our third season, we are excited to continue to grow all facets of our operation on and off the field,” said Bruce Mandell, chairman of the Hartford Athletic. “Our partnership with Leyton Orient will allow us to accelerate that growth.”
Hartford will also continue with a partnership with Southampton, a member of England’s Premier League. On loan from Southampton, midfielder Tyreke Johnson played in 15 of 16 matches for Hartford last year and scored two goals from his left wing back position.
Head coach Radhi Jaïdi was on loan for a year with Southampton and led the Athletic into the USL Championship playoffs after Hartford won Group F in the pandemic-shortened season.
The partnership will see Southampton’s successful global program integrated into Hartford’s youth soccer platform. This will involve a focus on coach and player development, partnering on camps and clinics as well as the club’s expanding online programs for grassroots coaches.
Hartford has signed 10 players
The Athletic continue to sign players for the 2021 season. Hartford recently signed defender Thomas Janjigian pending league and federation approval. The California native is the 10th player signed for the 2021 season.
Janjigian joins Hartford after spending the past four seasons with Reno 1868 FC, who won Group A in the USL Championship’s Western Conference.
He made 61 appearances, recording 212 clearances, 31 blocks, and 103 interceptions while playing mostly center back. Last season was one of his strongest, starting 16 of 18 matches while leading the club in clearances, long passes, and long pass accuracy.
Janjigian is the second player signed from Reno 1868 FC. Last month, Hartford announced the signing of his former teammate, versatile defender Younes Boudadi, who played his rookie season in Reno in 2020.
The Athletic have signed goalie Carlos Merancio, pending league and federation approval. He becomes first goalkeeper signed for the 2021 season. Merancio played for FC Tucson of USL League One for the past two seasons. During the pandemic shortened 2020 season, he started nine games in goal, recorded 25 saves and had two shutouts.
Hartford Athletic has now signed the following players for the 2021 season:
Forward: Alfonso Vazquez
Midfielder: Nii Armah Ashitey, Danny Barrera, Conor McGlynn, Arthur Rogers, Gabriel Torres
Defender: Younes Boudadi, Thomas Janjigian, Alex Lara
Goalkeeper: Carlos Merancio