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Union sign Damani Richards and Aaron Wheeler

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 with the Reading Rage

Wheeler with the Reading Rage

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 stats

Player: Aaron Wheeler
Position: Forward
Number: 12
Height: 6-4
Weight: 197
Date of Birth: May 11, 1988
Age: 24
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
Citizenship: USA
Last Club: FC KooTeePee (Finland)

Player: Damani Richards
Position: Defender
Number: 22
Height: 6-0
Weight: 174
Date of Birth: November 30, 1994
Age: 18
Hometown: Cocorite, Trinidad & Tobago
Citizenship: Trinidad & Tobago
Last Club: T&T U-20 National Team


  1. sieve!!!!!! says:

    Sooooooooo….. another forward?

    Between these signings and our draft picks we are gonna have one kick asss reserve squad.

  2. I’ve been completely underwhelmed with all of the preseason signings. This is their fourth year. They really have no excuse in failing to invest in higher quality players. As a fan I’m not encouraged to spend money on a team that is not reinvesting that money to improve the team’s on field performance. I have a feeling its more 3rd division football for the Union.

  3. I like the wheeler signing. 6’4″ is something the union do not have much of, and adds depth up front.
    The Richards signing is what I would categorize “reserve team” building. But it also adds depth to the bench.
    One of the faults from last year’ team was lack of depth up front and in back.
    Face it IL: the Union are never going to sign the major money DP, and I am ok with that. Hack is addressing organizational needs, most of which are not 1st team or starting XI needs.

    • That may be true. But they certainly had certain first team needs that had to be addressed. Get an attacking MD, get an LB, maybe a seasoned keeper as well. Simple needs that I don’t think have been met.
      Even the forward position has not been truly addressed. Yes we have Le Toux and injury prone Casey, but I don’t think that’s enough, all things considered. They really needed some quality up top. None is forthcoming.

      • I think with the salary cap space the U has invested in Le Toux, Casey, and McInerney, it is hard to see them adding a big piece to that front line. Now, if they can find a bargain of an attack-minded midfielder that gets the job done for a portion of Freddy Adu’s salary after Adu finds the door, maybe they can add another proven forward.

      • Well if the issue is the salary cap and not lack of money then they are doubly in trouble because they are the ones making the moves and dealing with cap space.
        I think Hack gets a 3 out of 10 for his preseason performance. Now lets see if he can do anything with his team. Because now its his team. No excuses.

  4. Relax guys, before the superdraft everyone was saying how the u were having a great offseason. Losing valdes sucks, but I still think we’re one attacking midfielder away from a decent team.

  5. Also, with the expected merger of the Reserve League and the third division (nasl was it?), there is now a better chance of these fringe players getting playing time and learning.
    So while before thes guys would have languished in the mls’ sad excuse for a reserve league, they will get playing time in an actual league and could grow or atleast provide depth.

  6. I think that we’re seeing the effects of our ownership group having no dough to spend.

    Hard to excited about either of these signings or our first draft pick. They’re all more long-term projects which don’t forecast play-offs to me.

    • No dough or unwillingness to spend any.

    • I’m not sure what you expect for the second round of the draft. It’s pretty much a crap shoot after the top prospects are picked. It’s important for the team to build up depth, a luxury the Union hasn’t had to date.

      LeToux, Parke, and Casey are pretty legit pickups, and another signing from Italy or South America could come this week.

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