Cosmos Sign Three As NASL Champs Build 2016 Roster

From left: Eric Calvillo, Jairo Arrieta and Michael Lahoud.
From left: Eric Calvillo, Jairo Arrieta and Michael Lahoud.
From left: Eric Calvillo, Jairo Arrieta and Michael Lahoud.

As the New York Cosmos begin to round out the team’s roster for the 2016 season, the defending North American Soccer League champions have signed U.S. U-17 national team midfielder Eric Calvillo, veteran Jairo Arrieta and agreed to a loan deal with the Philadelphia Union for Michael Lahoud.

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A native of Southern California, Calvillo was selected to the 21-player U.S. U-17 roster at last October’s U-17 World Cup in Chile. He appeared in all three matches for his country, starting two and compiling 202 minutes on the pitch. Now Calvillo will join fellow U.S. U-17 international and California native Alexis Velela in New York.

“Eric is a talented player with great potential,” said Giovanni Savarese, Cosmos Head Coach and Sporting Director. “We are committed to developing young players and offering them a pathway in professional soccer. Last year we added the B team, and this year our fully funded Academy will start.  Players like Eric Calvillo and Alexis Velela are part of this investment.”

“Signing my first professional contract with a club like the New York Cosmos is incredible,” said Calvillo. “Wearing the same colors as all-time greats like Pelé, Marcos Senna and Raúl is a privilege.”

Calvillo, a versatile player comfortable in the No. 6 spot and as a box-to-box midfielder, came through U.S. Soccer Development Academy club Real So Cal. He becomes the third active U.S. youth international to sign with the Cosmos, following Velela and former Cosmos striker Haji Wright.

Also joining New York is Jairo Arrieta, 32, who made 27 appearances and 15 starts for D.C. United during their 2015 Major League Soccer campaign. He scored five goals and picked up two assists helping his club reach the Conference Semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Prior to D.C., Arrieta played three seasons for Columbus Crew, tallying 17 goals and nine assists.

First called up to Costa Rica’s senior national team in 2011, Arrieta won the Golden Boot at Copa Centroamericana in 2013 as the tournament’s top goal scorer. La Sele  captured first place with a 1-0 win over Honduras in the final.

“Jairo comes to us with great experience and is a goal-scoring threat,” said Savarese. “His addition to the team builds on an already strong core of players returning for the upcoming season.”

“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,” Arrieta said. “The coaching staff has a great reputation and I believe I can score goals in their system.”

In addition, the Sierra Leone-born midfielder Michael Lahoud has also joined New York, on loan from MLS side Philadelphia Union.

“We’re pleased to announce this player as we head into the 2016 NASL season,” said Savarese. “Michael is a very experienced player and his quality will be very important to us as we look to strengthen ourselves in the central midfield positions.”

Lahoud, 29, began his soccer career at Wake Forest University where he helped win the NCAA National Championship in 2007. During college he also played for USL side, Carolina Dynamo.

In 2009, Lahoud was drafted in the first round MLS SuperDraft by Chivas USA where he made 64 appearances and scored two goals. Three years later (2012) he was traded to the Philadelphia Union, making 58 appearances for the Union.

In 2013 Lahoud received his first national call-up with Sierra Leone, featuring in their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Equatorial Guinea.

“I’m very excited to be joining the Cosmos,” said Lahoud. “They have a great style of play and I’m looking forward to being part of it and helping the team retain their championship.”