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Ballard FC stacked with new and returning talent

Get to know the new Ballard FC.

Last Updated
4 min read
Head Coach James Riley. Photo: Blake Dahlin

Ballard FC’s regular season begins with an away match at new USL2 side Tacoma Stars today. After winning the USL2 National Championship in their second season, Ballard got an early start on the year with an appearance in the 2024 U.S. Open Cup where they were edged out in the first round by USL1’s Spokane Velocity FC.

The Northwest Division of USL2 has added three new Washington teams — West Seattle Junction FC, Midlakes United FC, and Tacoma Stars — adding more local rivalries and a lot of quality to the schedule as the quest to defend their trophy begins.

“We’re really looking forward to the upcoming season," said Sam Zisette, co-founder and president of Ballard FC. “With over 1,200 season ticket holders already, 16 returning players, and a refreshed coaching staff, the excitement is palpable. We’re also privileged to be one of the last teams to play at the historic Memorial Stadium before its transformation. We’re confident in our robust roster and believe we’re poised for another championship run.”

Roster-building and continuity in USL2 is a massive challenge, with a host of rules and caps limiting the tenure and availability of players. Zisette told Sounder at Heart that the goal is to retain 50% of the roster season on season, and the 2024 squad is packed with returning players, many with strong ties to Seattle college soccer and the Seattle Sounders Academy. For a team looking to defend a national title, having so much consistency in the roster is a massive leg up.

Returning Players


Starting in goal, Ballard returns Ballard High School grads Pierluca Carnovale and Conrad Lee. Though both were backups last season, each saw significant minutes behind starter Lars Helleren, who has moved onto Tacoma Defiance. 


A good portion of the returning experience and talent is on the defensive side of the ball. Five of the team’s eight defenders return from last season. Christian Engmann, Leo Burney, Lesia Thetsane, Khai Brisco, and Demian Alvarez all expect to see significant time on the back line. Watch for a variety of pairings among Engmann, Burney, and Alvarez at centerback. Brisco and Thetsane are the more offensive-minded fullbacks. Both are speedy defenders who like to get forward. 

Brisco plays his college soccer at the University of Washington and came through the Sounders Academy. He played with Sounders FC 2 in 2017 and 2018 and has 19 appearances with Ballard. 

Shoreline product Christian Engmann will return for a third season with Ballard, returning after an injury-limited season at San Diego State University, where he still managed two goals and an assist in just 93 minutes. Leo Burney, a Garfield High School grad and another Sounders Academy player, is coming off his third All-Ivy League season at Penn.

Alvarez appeared in 19 games for Seattle University last season and has proven to be a versatile defender who can get forward when needed. 


Peter Kingston is yet another Sounders Academy player and was on the original Ballard FC roster in 2022. Kingston played college ball at both Seattle University and the University of Washington and is one of Ballard’s most exciting and dynamic midfield players.

Taketo Onodera appeared in 18 matches for Seattle University in 2023, notching 3 goals and 1 assist. 

Roosevelt High School graduate Joe Dale returns for this third year at Ballard, coming off six appearances and three starts as a redshirt freshman at the University of Washington, where he notched an assist and this stunner against Oregon State.

Jibril Rodet is back for his second year with Ballard. Rodet plays college soccer at Grand Canyon University after transferring from Oregon State.

Seattle Pacific University’s Cameron Yriondo is also back for a second season with the club and is coming off a stellar college season, earning First Team and All-Academic honors while starting 17 matches and playing over 1,400 minutes. 


The attacking side of the ball sees a ton of experienced and goal-dangerous players returning as well. 

Both Alex Mejia and Charlie Gaffney were on the inaugural Ballard squad. Mejia, a Roosevelt High and Seattle Pacific graduate is a menace in front of goal, and is coming off a season with Honduran side Real España in the Honduran first division. Gaffney is teammates with Leo Burney at Penn, and played in all 16 matches last season.

Kojo Dadzie and Charlie Holmes both earned league honors in their college seasons. Dadzie was named First Team All-Ivy at Brown. Holmes received Third Team All-Patriot League honors with Bucknell. 

New Additions

Adam Braman, Goalkeeper

Braman is a graduate of Mercer Island High School and has played for Seattle University. He joins Ballard FC to compete for the starting goalkeeper position.

Charlie Lanphier, Goalkeeper

A former player at Seattle University, Lanphier has previous USL2 experience with FC Olympia. He also joins the competition for the goalkeeper spot at Ballard FC.

Chris Meyers, Midfielder

Part of a trio of new players from the University of Washington, Meyers received PAC-12 honors last fall.

Richie Aman, Forward

Another player from the University of Washington, Aman also received PAC-12 honors last fall.

Sean Sent, Midfielder

The third member of the University of Washington trio, Sent had a career year, appearing in ten matches and scoring two goals.

Daniel Burko, Forward

Transferred to Syracuse University in January after an impressive season at Lincoln Memorial University, tallying 20 goals in 19 matches. He won the Division II Southeast Region Player of the Year. 

Austin Brummett, Forward

Originally from New Hampshire, Brummett moved to Seattle to join the Sounders Academy in high school. He has completed his sophomore season at San Diego State University, scoring seven goals in 2023.

The Seattle Pipeline

With the success of Ballard FC and the growth of the Northwest Division of USL2, the soccer community in Seattle is getting a well-earned moment in the spotlight. Here’s a brief look at the players’ connections to Seattle-area soccer.

Sounders Academy

Khai Brisco 
Leo Burney 
Peter Kingston 
Austin Brummett 

Seattle University

Adam Braman
Charlie Lanphier
Demian Alvarez
Taketo Onodera

University of Washington

Peter Kingston
Joe Dale
Chris Meyers
Sean Sent
Richie Aman

Seattle Pacific University

Cameron Yriondo
Alex Mejia

Seattle-Area High Schools

Pierluca Carnovale (Ballard High School)
Conrad Lee (Ballard High School)
Leo Burney (Garfield High School)
Joe Dale (Roosevelt High School)

Ballard FC play their first home match at Memorial Stadium against West Seattle Junction FC will be on June 1 at 7 pm.