Photos courtesy Mark Guthrel / Saint Louis FC
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Swope Park Rangers announced on Wednesday they had signed midfielders Parker Maher and James Musa. Both players spent the last two seasons in the USL with fellow Missouri-based side Saint Louis FC and were two of just four players to make at least 50 appearances for the club. Musa will join the club pending the receipt of his P-1 Visa, while both signings are pending USL and federation approval.
“I’m very excited to join the organization,” Maher said. “I was really impressed with the Rangers’ inaugural season, and I’m looking forward to achieving big things this coming year as well. I can’t wait to get started.”
"I am very happy to have signed for the Swope Park Rangers,” Musa said. “It is an honor to join the Western Conference Champions, and the club's link with Sporting KC was a success in year one with several players earning first team minutes. I am excited for 2017 to arrive and get started with preseason. I cannot wait to meet my new teammates and coaches, integrate with the community and get to work to help the club reach greater success."
“Parker is a technical player who is very good on the ball,” Swope Park Rangers head coach Nikola Popovic said. “He’s an offensive-minded player that can also defend and has the characteristics of being able to cover a lot of ground throughout a game.
“James is very strong and has excellent technique. He’s a young player but he already has so much experience and he is one of the players who will add leadership to a young team.”
Maher joined Saint Louis FC prior to the 2015 USL campaign and made 50 appearances for the club across the last two seasons, scoring one goal. In 2016, Maher appeared in the opening 22 games before suffering a groin injury in the 1-1 draw against the Rangers on Aug. 3 that ruled him out for the remainder of the season. The versatile 23-year-old can play either in the midfield or at left back.
Maher’s 50 total appearances place him in a tie for third all-time for Saint Louis FC, while his lone goal came in a 2-1 victory over the Charlotte Independence on July 4, 2015.
The Joplin, Mo. native attended Missouri State University where he made 72 appearances across four years, scoring once and adding six assists. Maher was a NSCAA Scholar All-North/Central Region Second Team Selection as a junior and earned All-MVC Second Team, MVC All-Tournament, NSCAA/Continental Tire All-West Region Third Team and NSCAA Scholar All-North/Central Region First Team honors in his senior year as Missouri State fell in overtime of the MVC Championship Match.
The well-travelled Musa arrives in Kansas City after making 51 total appearances for Saint Louis FC in 2015 and 2016 – placing second all-time for the club. The 24-year-old added five goals and three assists in that time, including three goals and all three of his assists in 2016.
Musa, who take up positions in central midfield or along the backline, was born in Plymouth, United Kingdom but moved to New Zealand at the age of six. He began his professional career in 2010 when he signed with Wellington Phoenix FC – a New Zealand-based team that competes in the Australian A-League. From there, Musa played for lower-league side Waitakere City FC in 2011 before joining Team Wellington FC in the New Zealand Football Championship a year later.
After impressing for the New Zealand Under-23 National Team at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Musa was offered a trial by then English Premier League side Fulham FC and signed with the club. A loan spell at Hereford United FC in the Conference followed before returning to Team Wellington in New Zealand in 2013.
Musa played one season with Team Wellington before signing with Australian National Premier Leagues Victoria side South Melbourne in 2014. Musa then headed back to Team Wellington after one season in Australia before signing with Saint Louis FC ahead of their expansion season in 2015.
On the international stage, Musa earned one cap for the New Zealand National Team coming in a friendly against South Africa on May 30, 2014. He had previously represented his country at the U-20 and U-23 levels, including appearances at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the London 2012 Summer Olympics.