And Fitzgerald makes three for New York City.
This morning, New York City made their loan of New York Red Bulls GK Ryan Meara official. This afternoon, the club made Carolina RailHawks keeper Akira Fitzgerald the 18th player on the team's roster. His signing, made official in a release, had been rumored for the past week or so.
Head coach Jason Kreis expressed his pleasure at the signing.
"Akira is a good, hardworking keeper with great experience in the NASL over the past couple of years," said Kreis in the release. "He is a tenacious athlete and very smart with the ball at his feet. I think he will fit into the roster really nicely and push all of our guys in training. We have three strong goalkeepers and great competition for places."
For his part, Fitzgerald seems happy to join New York City.
"I couldn't be more excited to be signed by New York City Football Club," said the keeper. "I've worked my whole career for an opportunity like this, and the chance to be a part of this unbelievable project is an absolute honor. I can't thank the staff enough for welcoming me in to the club the way that they have. It's an absolute honor."
Born in Chiba, Japan, the 27-year-old calls Baltimore home. Fitzgerald played his collegiate soccer at Wake Forest University. As a red-shirt freshman, Fitzgerald appeared in four games for the Demon Deacons, helping them to a NCAA title. He was named second-team All-ACC during his senior season in 2010, and finished as the Demon Deacons' all-time goalkeeper leaders in minutes played, goals against average, save percentage and saves.
During that senior year, Fitzgerald played every minute of the season in goal, posting a 8-9-2 record with a 1.23 goals against average and an ACC-best 81 saves. He finished his collegiate career ranked third in school history in career goals against average (0.83), fourth in saves (237), third in save percentage (.803) and second in minutes played (6296).
After college, Fitzgerald signed with the Carolina RailHawks in July of 2011. He's distinguished himself in net for the team over the last four years. This past season, Fitzgerald played nineteen games, giving up no goals over the course of 1,710 minutes.
As you can see in the video above, Fitzgerald is a fine, athletic keeper. He was named the NASL player of the week twice during the league's spring season. Since the spring season was just nine weeks long this past year, that's notable, indeed.
Signing a talented goalkeeper like Fitzgerald is a coup for the team. Don't be surprised if Fitzgerald becomes New York City's first-choice goalkeeper. Ryan Meara might be younger and more talented, but he hasn't played in two-and-a-half years, thanks to a nasty hip injury. It's unknown if he'll be able to perform at the level that saw him discussed as a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2012. Meanwhile, Josh Saunders excelled in goal for the NASL's San Antonio Scorpions, but he, too, hasn't played in MLS for over a year. At 33, he might be on the downslope of his career.
Regardless, with his signing, New York City continues building a squad that will at least be competitive in a much weaker Eastern Conference next season. Acquiring someone like Fitzgerald - the kind of low-cost, high value signing that Kreis was noted for at Real Salt Lake - is further proof of that.