Houston Dynamo 2 have signed six players to MLS NEXT Pro professional contracts.
The players include midfielder Paulo Lima, forward Papa Ndoye, defender Talen Maples, goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg, midfielder Jacob Evans, and defender Sterling Penniston-John..
“We could not be more excited to have these six players join Dynamo 2 for the inaugural season of MLS NEXT Pro,” Nick Kowba, Assistant General Manager and Director of Soccer Operations said. “We believe that this group represents immense potential and in addition to the four homegrown players we have already signed, will help push the First Team and propel Dynamo 2 to a successful inaugural season.”
Lima and Ndoye, along with a number of Houston Dynamo 2 and Academy players, were regular participants in Paulo Nagamura’s preseason camp for the first team. Lima and Ndoye also traveled with the first team to Tucson to participate in the Desert Showcase, with both players featuring in the Desert Showcase against the Colorado Rapids and Phoenix Rising.
Paulo Lima joined the Club when he was drafted 32nd overall in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft out of Providence College. While at Providence, Lima earned All-Big East honors twice and was the program’s 2019 Karl Anderson Offensive Most Valuable Player. Prior to his time with the Friars, Lima competed in his native Portugal for Real Sport Club for six years and Sporting Clube de Portugal for four years. While with Sporting, Lima won a U-19 National Championship and a U-16 National Championship.
Papa Ndoye comes to Dynamo 2 from Southern Methodist University. Ndoye earned AAC Second Team honors in his senior season with the Mustangs after he finished with 10 appearances, including eight starts, and scored five goals. In his sophomore 2020-2021 season, Ndoye started all nine games he played in for SMU. During that season, Ndoye tallied a team-leading six goals, including two braces, and led the team with 37 shots, including 14 on goal. Prior to SMU, Ndoye played for Long Island University as a freshman and was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Northeast Region First Team.
Talen Maples comes to the Dynamo from the United Soccer League’s Toronto FC II. The Texas native was drafted 72nd overall by Toronto FC in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft and made his debut for TFC II on May 22, 2021 against North Texas SC. During the 2021 season, Maples made 19 appearances and scored one goal. Prior to joining TFC, Maples played two seasons for the Dynamo’s Premier Development League affiliate Brazos Valley Cavalry, where he played under Houston Dynamo 2 head coach Kenny Bundy and Dynamo Academy coach Daniel Roberts. Maples also played college soccer for Southern Methodist University, where he earned AAC First Team All-Conference honors in 2018 and AAC All-Rookie Team honors in 2017. During that 2018 season, Maples started every game for the Mustangs.
Andrew Pannenberg comes to Dynamo 2 from the USL’s Colorado Switchbacks. Prior to his time with the Switchbacks, Pannenberg played three seasons at Wake Forest University. In his time with the Demon Deacons, Pannenberg recorded 79 saves and 13 clean sheets in 32 appearances. Pannenberg was selected in the second round (49th overall) in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City SC.
Jacob Evans comes to the Dynamo after a standout collegiate career UNC-Wilmington. While at UNC-W, Evans was a three-time First-Team All-CAA selection. During his three seasons with the Seahawks, Evans finished with six goals and 12 assists while starting 34-of-39 games. The Cheshire, England native transferred to UNC-W from Houston-area St. Thomas University, where he scored 18 goals, including five game-winning goals, with five assists in his two seasons with the school.
Sterling Penniston-John played college soccer at Utah Valley University, where he transferred to after two standout seasons at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Washington. While at Peninsula, Penniston-John was a two-time Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) All-Star. During his only full season with UVU, the Las Vegas, Nevada native made appearances in 16 matches, starting seven times and finishing with one goal and one assist as a defender.