Three days before their inaugural National Premier Soccer League match, the Milwaukee Torrent solidified their midfield Wednesday.
Drew Ruggles, who won the USL championship with the Rochester Rhinos last season, agreed to join the Torrent, owner-coach Andreas Davi said.
The 23-year-old from Fayetteville, N.C., had one assist in seven appearances (three starts) with Rochester in 2015 after playing in 21 games with the Wilmington Hammerheads in the league a year earlier. Ruggles also has played in the Major Arena Soccer League the past two season, spending the 2014-15 season with the Baltimore Blast before joining the Milwaukee Wave last winter.
Davi said he planned to have Ruggles in the lineup Saturday for the Torrent's match against the Minnesota Twin Stars in Minnetonka, Minn. The addition of the former Georgia Southern player could lead to the Torrent switching to a 4-3-2-1 formation, with Ruggles alongside brothers Tony and A.J. Patterson (Menomonee Falls/UW-Green Bay) as the three holding midfielders.
The change would allow Declan Rodriguez (UW-Milwaukee) to have a more advanced role in the attack, said Davi, who singled out the former Vancouver Whitecaps youth player as a standout through the team's preseason matches.
Rodriguez led the way three goals as the Torrent went 2-1-2 in their five games over the past month, while Nemanja Medic (Milwaukee Hamilton/UW-Parkside) had two and Tony Patterson, Ian Bennett and James Weber (Harford) added one goal apiece.
"I'm confident," Davi said of his thoughts heading into the league opener. "The guys are getting more and more quality time working together at practice, and it looks much, much better. We all know they can play. I'm happy."
From the touchline
In addition to Ruggles, the Torrent have added three more players to their roster recently: defender Paulo Triana (Kenosha Tremper), his brother Jorge Triana (Kenosha Indian Trail), a midfielder, and defender Austin Hoecherl (Kenosha Indian Trail). The trio didn't sign professional contracts and therefore retain their amateur status and NCAA eligibility. "Maybe in the future, I will always put one or two youth players on the team," said Davi, who initially planned to have all Torrent players sign pro contracts. Paulo Triana is in line to start at left back Saturday. ... Striker Cheenuj Shong (Milwaukee Reagan/UW-Green Bay) is scheduled to try out with the Torrent on Monday. He had four goals and seven assists in 42 appearances with the Phoenix. ... Nick Barry (UW-Oshkosh) will start in goal against the Twin Stars, Davi said, with Matt Eisold (Burlington/Wisconsin Lutheran) serving as the backup. ... From the infirmary: Right back Stuart Grable (Neenah/UW-Green Bay) is expected to be out two to four more weeks because of a torn adductor muscle, while forward Bojan Jovicic (Milwaukee Hamilton/UW-Parkside) is out indefinitely with a groin injury. Bennett suffered an ankle injury while playing for Canada at the CONCACAF Futsal Championships earlier this month in Costa Rica and won't play Saturday. ... As of Wednesday afternoon, Davi said the Torrent had sold 462 season tickets. Their home opener at Uihlein Soccer Park is June 11 against the Twin Stars.