The Swope Park Rangers have signed Oumar Ballo and Ualefi Rodrigues dos Reis, the club announced today. Ballo and Ualefi join Nansel Selbol as Foreign Players on the Rangers’ roster, with the club retaining four remaining Foreign Player roster spots. Ballo will join the Rangers pending the receipt of his P-1 Visa, while Ualefi will join pending the receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
Ballo, 24, was selected in the second round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by the Houston Dynamo and was sent on loan to the Charleston Battery – the Dynamo’s former USL affiliate. Houston later waived Ballo before the defender joined the Swope Park Rangers ahead of the 2016 USL season.
Originally from Bamako, Mali, Ballo moved to Baltimore, Maryland when he was eight years old and was a standout at the University of Maryland – Baltimore County. Ballo made 65 starts for the Retrievers, scoring five goals and adding three assists. He helped UMBC reach the NCAA College Cup for the first time in program history in 2014, falling in the final four to eventual champions Virginia. Ballo was twice named America East Defender of the Year and was also a two-time All-American, while he was one of eight defenders listed on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List as a senior.
“I’m proud to have signed, and to be a part of the Swope Park Rangers and Kansas City as an organization,” Ballo said. “I’m looking forward to making every minute count, on and off the field.”
“Oumar has great physical abilities and also has the profile to develop into a better player,” Swope Park Rangers head coach Marc Dos Santos said. “We want to provide him with the best environment possible for him to grow and maximize his potential.”
Ualefi, 21, arrives in Kansas City after spending his early career in his native Brazil. Born in Sao Paulo, Ualefi joined local side Corinthians’ Academy in 2007 and advanced through the ranks to the senior team in 2012 – training with three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldo in the process. That same year, Ualefi also spent time with Flamengo’s Academy before returning to Corinthians in 2013.
While with Corinthians, Ualefi won the 2011 IX Copa Ouro and Mundialito de Clubes Under-17 tournaments and his side was also victorious in the 2012 Copa Sao Paulo de Juniores. On the international scene, Ualefi was previously a member of Brazil’s Under-15 team.
“I can’t wait to get started, work hard and show my ability on the pitch,” Ualefi said. “Everyone can expect me to show a lot of guts, a will to win at all costs and to give my all for the club.”
“Ualefi has a great margin for progression,” Dos Santos said. “He grew up playing in a very good environment and the years spent at Corinthians, in Brazil, have helped him develop as a player. We believe that we can provide the player with the right tools and environment to progress at the next level.”
Oumar Ballo (OH-mar BAHL-oh)
Born: 4/2/91 (24 years old)
College: University of Maryland – Baltimore County
Last Club: Houston Dynamo (MLS)
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Birthplace: Bamako, Mali
Ualefi Rodrigues dos Reis (WAH-lef-ee)
Born: 1/26/94 (21 years old)
Last Club: Corinthians (Brazil)
Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Birthplace: Sao Paulo, Brazil