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Steel FC sign former NYCFC draft pick AJ Paterson

The former Wright State/Southwest Florida Adrenaline player signs his first pro deal

AJ Paterson during a preseason game against FC Motown on February 10, 2018
Matt Ralph

Well, here’s what a good preseason can do for someone. Selected by New York City FC in the second round and then promptly let go, AJ Paterson was brought in by Steel FC via trial in the second week of the preseason. The Florida native performed well and now here we are, with the former Wright State stand out grabbing a professional contract.

What caused NYCFC to take AJ in the first place at 42 overall?

First of all he’s a big guy, 6’2 182 lbs. He’s a left-footed midfielder and can go box-to-box for 90 minutes. Makes perfect sense from just the “eye” test.

That being said he made big waves in the college scene last year. Career highs in games played as well as starts and more then doubling his career high in goals with 15 and assists with 7 saw AJ named to the Horizon League player of the year as well as a All-League first teamer. He had claimed some individual accolades in 2016 as well, earning All-League second team honors and a Horizon League tournament player of the year.

“AJ brings versatility and size and he showed in college the ability to fill up the box-to-box role by eating up ground,” Steel head coach Brendan Burke said of his new signing. “He has a defensive presence and is good in the air plus adding a left-footed player is always useful to a squad.”

This isn’t the first time a NYCFC draft pick has found a home with the Steel. Former midfielder Chris Wingate spent last season with the team after being released at the end of New York City’s preseason training camp. He was drafted 54th overall by New York City in the 2017 draft.

“It’s an amazing feeling to achieve a lifelong goal from day one and I’m eager to get started as a professional with Steel FC,” Paterson said in a news release. “I think being drafted by another club and being let go really lit a fire underneath me because it showed me the level that I have to be at as a professional. I wasn’t at that level at that time but I feel this opportunity will give me the best chance to show that I can achieve that next step as a professional and maybe even more.”

The addition of Paterson brings the official roster to nine players, three shy of the minimum required by USL.

AJ will have a chance to play his first game as a pro on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at YSC Sports.