Elm City Express Announce First Two Signings
Elm City Express has announced its first signings ahead of the club’s inaugural season in the NPSL. The Connecticut club will compete in the Northeast Region’s Atlantic Blue Conference as Elm City welcomes international experience with its first players.
NPSL Soccer News: The Elm City Express, which is preparing for its inaugural season in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), has announced goalkeeper Matt Jones and forward Graciano Brito as the club’s first two signings.
Rivals on the pitch during their college days, Jones studied at Sacred Heart University, while Brito attended Quinnipiac University. Both Brito and Jones played professionally in Portugal before moving back to the United States.
“We’re obviously thrilled to have players of this caliber on our squad,” Elm City Express President Zack Henry said. “Both Matt and Graciano have already had a very positive influence off the pitch, and have of course shown their talents on the pitch as well.”
Originally from England, Jones earned his degree from Sacred Heart University and then began his professional career in 2009 with Clube Desportivo Santa Clara in Portugal. From there he went on to play for Clube de Futebol União (commonly known as União da Madeira), Clube de Futebol Os Belenenses and Clube Desportivo de Tondela. In all, Jones spent seven years playing in Portugal, and returned to the United States in early 2016 for a season with the Philadelphia Union.
“My wife and I recently moved back to Connecticut after I played professionally in Portugal and Philadelphia for the last 8 years,” said Jones.
“I soon learned about the Elm City Express project from the management team, and I was immediately impressed by the ambition and passion that they have for the project. After they explained their vision, including Elm City’s ties with its sister club C.A. Tubarão in Brazil, I decided that it wasn’t quite time to hang up my gloves—as the project was something I wanted to be involved in. My journey in professional soccer still has, at the least, one more chapter to write.”
Hailing from Cabo Verde, Brito is arguably the best soccer player in Quinnipiac history. Brito concluded his stellar four-year career with the Bobcats in 2008, when he became the fifth player in Northeast Conference history to earn back-to-back Player of the Year honors.
“From the first day we sat down to talk about the Elm City project, everyone involved wanted to make sure we attracted some of the best players in Connecticut,” said Elm City Express Head Coach Teddy Haley. “In signing such high profile players like Matt and Graciano, I think we have actually exceeded expectations. Their experience, quality, and overall professionalism puts us in a great position to add younger players into the squad and grow together as a team.”
The captain received All-American honors twice and was named one of ESPN SoccerNet’s Top Forwards at the conclusion of his college career. Brito played for Operário dos Açores in the Portuguese Second Division in 2010, and then became the first player to sign with USL expansion team FC New York. Brito then signed to the Rochester Rhinos of the USL.
Information on Elm City from their website:
In 2015, Zack Henry and his partners founded K2 Soccer USA, a sister company of Brazil-based K2 Soccer SA, which owns and operates Clube Atlético Tubarão, a professional Brazilian soccer club that competes in the First Division of the State of Santa Catarina.
Zack has lived in Spain, Puerto Rico, Mexico, France, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, and has done business in more than 35 countries.
Through that journey, he has gained related experience managing multicultural teams, building consensus around innovative ideas, bridging cultural gaps, and finding creative solutions. Zack grew up playing youth soccer in the tri-state area and played soccer at Amherst College, where he earned Adidas Scholar-Athlete All-America and New England Intercollegiate Soccer League All-Star honors.