ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Two days after announcing Mike Ambersley as the first signing in club history, Saint Louis FC has revealed four more players who will be joining the roster for the 2015 season.
The new STL FC signings include goalkeeper Mark Pais, defender Richard Dixon, and midfielders Jacob Bushue and Kentaro Takada.
Mark Pais – GK / St. Louis, Mo.
Pais, 23, is a St. Louis native who split his collegiate career at Saint Louis University and the University of Tulsa. He recorded eight shutouts in his senior season at Tulsa, and was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.
“Mark made a tremendous impact for us in just one season,” Tulsa Head Coach Tom McIntosh said. “He is one of best leaders I’ve ever had, in addition to his ability to make the big saves.”
At Saint Louis, Pais was 9-5-1 as a starter and tied for the Atlantic 10 Conference lead in shutouts as a sophomore. Prior to playing for the Billikens, he was invited to the Under-18 U.S. Men’s National Team Camp.
STL FC Goalkeeper Coach Brian Jones said he is extremely excited to have Pais on the roster.
“I have watched Mark closely since he was a teenager, and I feel confident in saying that I think he is the best goalkeeper our country hasn't heard of,” Jones said. “Obviously, he won't stay under the radar for long. I expect him to be one of, if not the best, goalkeeper in this league.”
Richard Dixon – D / West Palm Beach, Fla.
Dixon, 24, was born in Savanna-la-Mar, Jamaica but moved to the U.S. as a youth player.
The defender is familiar with USL PRO, having spent each of the last two seasons in the league. He made 18 appearances for the Charlotte Eagles last season, and earned 15 appearances for VSI Tampa Bay FC in 2013.
“Richard is an outside back who can dominate his channel defensively and has a good ability to get forward,” STL FC Head Coach Dale Schilly said. “As a coach, you often find outside backs that can either attack or defend. In Richard, we have a player who can excel at both. He is extremely athletic with an engine that allows him to get up and down the field.
“Additionally, we have relationships with a few of his previous coaches and know that he is a true team player. He is a great fit for our culture and the perfect player to help lead us through our first season."
Before turning pro, Dixon played collegiately at the University of West Florida. During his time with the Argonauts, Dixon was a two-time Gulf South Conference Player of the Year, and a four-time All-South Region selection by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
"It usually goes without saying for a professional player, but Richard is just a very competitive guy," UWF Head Coach Bill Elliott said. "We had to manage his time and keep him from training sometimes because he just wanted it that bad. At the same time, he definitely knows how to have fun and he loves to play the game."
Jacob Bushue – M / Champaign, Ill.
Bushue, 22, played collegiately at Indiana University, where he was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and the NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region Third Team as a senior.
“Jacob traveled internationally with the Region II ODP team that I coached a few years ago,” Schilly said. “Jacob’s greatest attributes are his competitive nature and leadership abilities. He’s a proven winner who holds his performance to a very high standard and expects the same from his teammates.
“On the ball, he is a good passer who can help establish possession for the team. Our fans will enjoy his intense nature and his ‘do what it takes’ approach to winning."
As a junior in 2012, Bushue helped lead the Hoosiers to a 1-0 win over Georgetown in the NCAA National Championship, earning IU its eighth national title in program history. In 2013, he started all 22 games en route to Indiana winning the Big Ten Championship.
“Jacob’s toughness and grit was one of the main reasons we were able to win the National Championship in 2012,” Indiana Associate Head Coach Brian Maisonneuve said. “He is the best ball winner I probably have ever seen, and he’s great at getting into tackling situations to win the ball.”
Kentaro Takada – M / Hokkaido, Japan
Takada, 31, is a midfielder with professional experience in both the U.S. and his native Japan.
He spent the past five seasons with Minnesota United FC (formerly Minnesota Stars FC) in the North American Soccer League (NASL), for which he made 79 appearances and scored four goals.
“Kentaro was one of the guys we had high interest in when Saint Louis FC was first announced,” Schilly said. “He is extremely professional in his approach, is a good fit in the locker room, and possesses a tremendous personality.
“On the field, fans will see a very technical player with an incredible work rate. Taka is a versatile two-way player who can create from deep as well as score goals."
Prior to joining Minnesota, Takada spent the 2009 season with the Rochester Thunder in the USL Premier Development League (PDL). He originally turned pro with Thespa Kusatsu of the J. League, where he played from 2006-2008.