Wizards add three international midfielders
The Kansas City Wizards on Monday announced the signing of midfielders Ryan Smith and Igor Kostrov to Major League Soccer contracts, along with an agreement to terms with English midfielder Craig Rocastle.
Per team and League policy, financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.
The three players will compete for spots across the Wizards’ midfield, with Smith‘s natural position on the left, Kostrov on the right and Rocastle in the center.
“We’re excited to add three talented players to our roster,” said Wizards Manager Peter Vermes. “Smith and Kostrov will both play on the flank for us and they both bring pace and skill to their positions.”
Smith began his career in the youth system of Arsenal F.C., making his debut for the first team at the age of 16 in the Carling Cup. Current Arsenal captain and Spanish international Cesc Fabregas, French fullback Cael Clichy and Tottenham winger David Bentley were among the other young players to appear with Arsenal in the competition that year.
In 2005, Smith headed to Leicester City on loan, where he made 17 appearances and scored a goal. His performances attracted the attention of Derby County, who moved to sign the midfielder before the start of the 2006-2007 season. From Derby, Smith moved to Millwall on loan before signing a permanent deal with the side in 2007. After two years with Millwall, Smith fulfilled short-term contracts with Southampton and Crystal Palace, leaving Palace earlier this year at the end of his deal.
Smith, 23, joined the Wizards as a trialist this preseason and has scored three goals in the team’s nine exhibition matches so far, including one in Thursday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
Kostrov began his career with hometown club Dinamo Bender in the Divizia Nationala, the top division in Moldovan soccer. With the team, Kostrov made 65 appearances, scoring seven goals before moving to Israel halfway through the 2008-2009 season to join Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Kostrov was then loaned out to Maccabi Herzliya in 2009.
Kostrov, 22, joined the Wizards on trial at the start of 2010 training, and has appeared in all of the club’s preseason matches thus far.
Rocastle has enjoyed a nine-year career with many clubs at all levels of the English game, starting with Kingstonian F.C. in 2001. Following a successful spell with Kingstonian that saw the team reach the fifth round of the FA Cup, Rocastle transferred to Chelsea in 2003. However, he would spend much of his time with the London club on loan. After leaving the club for Sheffield Wednesday in 2005, Rocastle would go on to play in England for Oldham Athletic and Port Vale, as well as in the Greek Super League with Thrasivoulos Filis. Most recently, Rocastle appeared for Forest Green Rovers in the English Conference.
“[Rocastle] is a guy that’s clean on the ball and sees the game really well,” Vermes said.
The midfielder, 28, joined Kansas City on a trial basis near the end of the team’s preseason preparations in Arizona in March. His signing is contingent upon his receipt of a P1 visa.
The Wizards open the season Saturday, March 27, at CommunityAmerica Ballpark against D.C. United.