The Halifax Wanderers have further bolstered their backline with the signing of experienced Canadian defender Ryan James.
The 28-year-old left-back has spent the last seven seasons playing in the USL Championship between the Rochester Rhinos, Nashville SC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds and most recently Birmingham Legion.
Prior to his professional career, the Mississauga native spent time with Toronto FC academy and was twice called up by the Canadian U-17 national team. He would go on to play four years at Bowling Green State University in the NCAA, being selected 52nd overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by Sporting KC. He went unsigned by the MLS club, however.
“Ryan is a very experienced professional and a good footballer that can solidify the left-back position and provide some extra leadership to the Wanderers,” Halifax head coach Patrice Gheisar said. “He was actually the first player I called when I got the Halifax job. He’s superb in one-on-one defending and can push our young players.”
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James will instantly add experience to a young Halifax backline which includes the likes of Zachary Fernandez (21), Cristian Campagna (21), Jake Ruby (22), Cale Loughrey (21), Mohamed Omar (24) and Riley Ferrazo (23).
“While he can also play on the wing or in central midfield, he’s a natural left-back,” Gheisar added. “Along with Riley Ferrazzo, this move gives us massive depth at left-back and allows us to utilize Wesley Timoteo further up the pitch in his best position on the right wing.”
Halifax conceded the second most goals in the league last year, with 38, something that new head coach Patrice Gheisar will be looking to instantly improve. James should add some stability and solidity in this regard. He is the eleventh signing that the Halifax club has made this off-season. They now have 21 players signed heading into 2023.
“I am very excited to be joining the Wanderers this season; I have heard amazing things about the city, the people, and I can’t wait to give the supporters a fantastic season,” James said. “I also have family roots in Nova Scotia and am excited to learn more about this part of my history.”
Community is important for James, who led the initiative “When I was Little…” during his time in Birmingham. This helped to provide youth with school supplies and soccer equipment.
James explained that he intends to carry on that charitable spirit in Halifax.
“I grew up with my family, friends and community supporting me to get to the next level, and I feel this way every day,” James said. “I want to show love to the people that support me, and I plan on working with the club and community to bring ‘When I was Little…’ to life in Nova Scotia.”