AUSTIN, Texas (Thursday, January 29, 2015) — The Austin Aztex have signed three additional players to join their 2015 USL PRO roster. The signings include former Aztex defender Leone Cruz, USL PDL standout Gregory Mulamba, and Cody Laurendi, a goalkeeper who played for USL PRO’s LA Galaxy II in 2014.
Cruz, a 27-year-old defender, was an instrumental player for the Aztex defense during the first two years of the club’s PDL play. Cruz is no stranger to Texas, as prior to those campaigns, he played a total of four seasons with the Austin Lightning and DFW Tornados. He also garnered experience with the Laredo Heat and the Austin Aztex U23 squad. Raised in Round Rock, Texas, Cruz got his first shot at the professional ranks after he drafted in the second round (21st overall) of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft by Seattle Sounders FC. By the 2012 season, he spent time with the Real Salt Lake of MLS before joining the Aztex. After winning the national PDL championship with Austin in 2013, Cruz landed on NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions roster for their championship 2014 season. He played collegiately at Southern Methodist University totaling 67 appearances, nine goals, and five assists.
Mulamba, a 28-year-old midfielder, is an imposing force on the field. Mulamba is a familiar player for the Aztex coaching staff, as he faced the Aztex multiple times in the PDL’s Mid South division rivalry between Austin and Mulamba’s previous team, the Laredo Heat. The native from Johannesburg, South Africa, arrived in Laredo for the 2007 season, where he propelled the team to the PDL National Championship. He built up a seven-year career with the Heat, amassing 94 appearances while playing alongside now current Aztex teammates Leone Cruz (2007, 2008, 2011) and Max Gunderson (2010, 2011, 2012).
Laurendi, a 26-year-old goalkeeper, brings eight years of professional experience between the posts. After spending three years in Belgium playing for the fourth division team Montegnée, Laurendi came back to the United States to sign with NASL’s Puerto Rico Islanders, recording a shutout in his debut and making one start in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. By 2013, the Melbourne, FL native joined NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. One year later, the 6-foot-3-inch tall goalkeeper caught the eye of USL PRO’s LA Galaxy II coaching staff and was signed for the season, where he totaled 19 appearances. He spent his collegiate career at the South Georgia State College.
With the recent wave of signings, the current USL PRO 2015 roster is now composed of 16 players, including seven who previously played in PDL’s Mid South division. The squad will kick off their preseason when the Aztex face Major League Soccer’s D.C. United in the ATX PRO Challenge, a four-team tournament featuring MLS Squads D.C. United, Columbus Crew SC, and FC Dallas.