Michael Bajza introduced at North Carolina State (left) and Thomas diVillardi volleys the ball at Duquesne University (right)
TACOMA, Wash. – The Sounders U-23 have signed midfielder, Michael Bajza from North Carolina State University, and midfield/defender, Thomas de Villardi from Duquesne University for the 2014 Premier Development League season.Michael Bajza, 19, made 17 appearances for NC State and started in 13 matches during the 2013 season. Michael scored two goals and had two assists. During Bajza’s freshman season, he totaled 26 shots, and was ranked 68th in Top Drawer Soccer’s 2013 “Men’s Freshman Top 100.”
“Signing with the Sounders is a huge honor for me, as well as an opportunity to show what I can do as a player,” Bajza said. “I look forward to coming in and helping the team in any way that I can so that in August we are National Champions.”
Sounders U-23 manager, Darren Sawatzky said, “We will look for Bajza to hold down the midfield for us and get involved in the attack when it is on. He will act as a bit of a ground wire for the attacking players buzzing forward.”
The 6’0 athlete is a 2013 high school graduate of Shattuck-Saint Mary’s School in Minnesota where he was ranked a top player, and leading scorer with 17 goals. Bajza had three years of academy experience before getting recruited by NC State, and was ranked among the top 100 recruits nationally by Top Drawer Soccer and ESPN Rise.
“Wearing the Sounders jersey will mean everything to me as I am a huge fan of the club, and to represent the Sounders will be a huge honor. I've always looked up to Dempsey and to be able to represent the same club as him is something I am very much looking forward to,” Bajza said.
Thomas de Villardi started in 18 matches for Duquesne University during his sophomore year, providing the team with one goal and five assists for the 2013 season. Thomas was named Second Team in the 2013 Atlantic-10 Conference.
“Thomas represents a midfield player with the ability to conduct an offense and affect the rhythm of games,” Darren Sawatzky said. “He will get an opportunity to pull the strings a bit.”
Thomas, a 6’1 defender played the 2012-2013 season at Universite Catholique de l'Ouest in France before coming to the United States to attend college at Duquesne.
The Sounders U-23 will host their first preseason game against Western Washington at 7p.m. on May 5 at Sunset Stadium.
Season Tickets for the 2014 Sounders U-23 season are on sale on SoundersU23.com for only $60. The 2014 Season Ticket Flex Pack eliminates the risk of missing games. Instead of one ticket specifically associated with each match, with the Sounders U-23 Flex Pack, fans will receive eight tickets, and each of those tickets will be accepted at any match during the 2014 season. It's the ultimate deal in flexibility.