Riverhounds have added their first new additions to the 2018 roster, and as expected new coach Bob Lilley has brought in a few players he’s familiar with.
On Friday the club announced the signing midfielder Christiano François and defender Raymond Lee to one-year deals with a club option for the 2019 season, pending USL and USSF approval.
Both players join the Hounds after spending this past season with Eastern Conference rival Rochester Rhinos. François led the Rhinos with six assists as an attacking winger despite playing in only 12 games (10 starts) due to injury, while Lee appeared in 14 matches primarily at left back.
A native of Cabaret, Haiti, François, 24, began his professional career as a loanee for the Richmond Kickers during the 2014 season. He was originally claimed by MLS side D.C. United, then parent club to the Kickers, via the Waiver Draft before being sent to Virginia. With the Kickers, François made a total of 10 appearances, making his professional debut on April 5 in a match against the Hounds.
“We’re expecting big things from Christiano,” head coach Bob Lilley said. “He’s a special athlete because he has that rare combination of breakaway speed and endurance. He’s very capable of running at players and causing chaos in the attacking end, while also doing his share of work on the defensive side of the ball.”
Following his release from D.C. United later in the 2014 season, François made the move to Portugal for professional stints with Sport Clube Vila Real in 2015 and F.C. Felgueiras in 2015-16. The Haitian scored four goals in 40 total appearances between the two clubs.
François returned to the USL for the 2017 season after signing with the Rhinos in March. He went on to start both matches for Rochester against Charlotte and Louisville during the USL Cup Playoffs.
Prior to beginning his professional career, François played collegiately at the University of Maryland for two seasons before deciding to leave early in pursuit of an MLS contract. His time with the Terrapins also coincided with appearances in the USL Premier Development League (PDL) with the Central Jersey Spartans and Baltimore Bohemians.
For Lee, the defender was drafted 71st overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by the Philadelphia Union. He made one appearance for The U, as a sub in a 3-2 loss in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri against Sporting Kansas City.
“Ray is someone I felt had a strong season with me at Rochester this past year,” Lilley said. “He’s an exceptional passer for a left back, likes to go forward and is very effective in the defensive end, especially in 1v1 situations.”
Lee kicked off the 2016 preseason in camp with Union affiliate and USL side Bethlehem Steel FC before switching conferences and heading west to Tulsa Roughnecks FC. With Roughnecks FC, Lee made 19 appearances total. He would go on to join the Rhinos the following season in March, starting in both of the club’s playoff matches.
Collegiately, Lee enjoyed a successful career at Saint Louis University, which included Atlantic 10 All-Conference and All-Rookie honors. Prior to his time with the Billikens, he attended Park Hill High School in Kansas City, most notably playing club soccer for the Sporting KC juniors, which included training with the first team and reserves.
The additions of François and Lee bring the Hounds roster to seven players under contract. Full details on the current roster of the Hounds can be found below.
Roster breakdown for 2018 season
Forwards (3): Kay Banjo, Romeo Parkes, Chevaughn Walsh
Midfielders (2): Christiano François, Kevin Kerr
Defenders (2): Tobi Adewole, Raymond Lee