Langley-based Vancouver FC on Thursday, Feb. 23 announced the addition of midfielder Nima Moazeni Zadeh, defender Eugene “Pele” Martinez and goalkeeper Jeremy Zielinski to its squad, after the trio earned 2023 contracts by impressing at the club’s open trials earlier this year.
Joining Vancouver marks a first professional opportunity for all three players.
“The combine proves that there’s a wealth of talent looking for places to play, and as we move forward in building our club local talent will be the cornerstone of the squad,” said Niall Thompson, assistant coach, Vancouver FC.
“By hosting the combine, Canadian players had the chance to experience a higher level of competition and it helped us as a club in continuing to build a scouting system with our local club partners to track players,” he added.
Moazeni Zadeh, 25, joined the Langley-based team as an alum of Capilano University in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). An attacking central midfielder, Zadeh was named the CCAA’s PACWEST Player of the Year in 2021 – his first season in the conference – as well as a PACWEST Conference All-Star.
He was also honoured as a CCAA All-Canadian. A native of Tehran, Iran, Zadeh scored five times for Capilano in 2021, while regularly pulling defenders his way to free up his squad’s other attacking players nearby.
The five-foot-seven, Iranian Canadian midfielder is already a member of the mainland soccer scene, as a coach with Metro Vancouver soccer academy and not-for-profit Field Art F.C. He also represented FC Tigers Vancouver in 2022.
“I am thrilled to continue my playing career on the west coast, a place I know to be full of true soccer fans,” said Zadeh. “I am excited to officially get started and show my coaches, teammates and opponents what I can do.”
In addition to his abilities on the pitch, Zadeh is a Certified Personal Trainer and holds a Bachelor of Physical Education from Tehran University.
“Zadeh is a classic midfielder with a high football IQ, tireless work rate and box to box range,” said Afshin Ghotbi, head coach, Vancouver FC. “He will soon be recognized by many as one of the best midfielders in Canada due to his qualities with and without the ball.”
Zielinski, 24, joined Callum Irving as the second goalkeeper to sign with Vancouver. The six-foot-two American Canadian netminder and most recently played for Hawai’i Pacific University, an NCAA Division II school, where he owned the role of starting goalkeeper from his freshman season.
“Jeremy possesses all the qualities to become one of the top goalkeepers in Canada,” said Ghotbi. “He is a fantastic shot blocker with cat-like reflexes, dominates the penalty area with his personality and range, and he is comfortable with his feet. We are excited to help develop Jeremy to a world class goalkeeper.”
A native of California, the left-footed goalkeeper owned a 83.5 per cent save percentage over four seasons with the Sharks, logging a total of 3,917 minutes.
“I am grateful to Vancouver for giving me my first professional opportunity through the combine,” said Zielinski. “The club’s faith in me will only make me work harder to be the best I can be for our team.”
Martinez, 25, is a right footed centre-back from Dangriga, Belize and a former member of the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos NCAA Division II men’s soccer team, where he spent the 2021 and 2022 seasons on scholarship after a move from Cerritos College in Norwalk, California.
Martinez, who stands at six feet tall, made 36 appearances for the Broncos through two seasons, scoring three goals and logging 2209 minutes.
He represented the Belize men’s national team four times in Concacaf Nations League B play in 2022, his first appearances for his country.
“It is a dream come true to join Vancouver and continue my playing career as a professional,” said Martinez. “I believe in my ability and look forward to proving myself within my new team and within the Canadian Premier League.”
Martinez is also the owner and founder of Pele Soccer Foundation in Belize, which provides youth with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of soccer, collects new clothes and equipment to ensure they can play and instills the importance of education.
“Pele impressed me immediately with his athleticism and personality,” said Ghotbi. “A great character in the locker room, Pele makes everyone better around him. He is a born leader who will soon be a fan favorite in the CPL.”
Zadeh, Zielinski and Martinez joined strikers Mamadou Kane, Nathanial St. Louis and Shaan Hundal, midfielders Elliot Simmons and Gabriel Bitar, defenders Rocco Romeo, Marcus Simmons and Kahlil John-Wentworth and Tyler Crawford and Irving on Vancouver’s roster.
Fans eager to secure their tickets for Vancouver’s inaugural season can do so by visiting showpass.com/vancouver-football-club-season-ticket/.
Season tickets for 2023 are now on general release.
Vancouver FC was founded in 2022 and will kick off its first Canadian Premier League season in 2023. Based in Langley, VFC is committed to being a professional team that commits more to its community than it takes out, in the pursuit of growing soccer in Canada.
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