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Legion FC Announces Two Signings from March

May 7, 2020 - United Soccer League Championship (USL) - Birmingham Legion FC News Release

BIRMINGHAM, AL - Birmingham Legion FC announced today the signings of defender Jake Rufe and midfielder Eli Crognale, who both put pen to paper March 13, pending league and federation approval.

"Jake and Eli are good additions to the team as they both bring versatility and depth to our group," said President and GM Jay Heaps. "Each player spent the preseason with the Club before signing in March, but due to the escalation of COVID-19, we held off on making this announcement. We are excited that they are with the Club and ready to go when training and play resume."

Rufe, 24, began his collegiate career at Indiana University, and following his freshman year, he transferred to Western Michigan University. He hit the ground running in Kalamazoo and started 52 of a possible 55 matches in his three years as a Bronco, while adding four goals and tallying two assists. During his time at Western Michigan, Rufe earned Second Team All-MAC and Academic All-MAC honors.

He also spent time with AFC Ann Arbor, in USL League Two. Prior to his collegiate and professional career, Rufe grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, where he attended Grissom High School and was named Gatorade Alabama Boys State Player of the Year in 2014. Rufe is the third State POY to sign with Legion FC, following Chandler Hoffman ('08, '09) and JJ Williams ('16).

Crognale, 22, played college soccer at Belmont before transferring to his older brother Alex's alma mater, the University of Maryland. While a Terrapin, he started 42 of a possible 50 matches, racked up nine assists and recorded four goals, and controlled the midfield as the Terrapins won the 2018 National Title. For his efforts on the way to the championship, Crognale was named to the 2018 College Cup All-Tournament Team. He was also named to the 2019 All-Big Ten First Team and the 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-North Region Second Team.

Transaction: Birmingham Legion FC signed Jake Rufe and Eli Crognale on March 13, 2020.

Player Profile:

Name: Jake Rufe

Position: Defender

Number: 13

Height: 6' 2"

Weight: 165 lbs.

Birthdate: January 22, 1996 (age: 24)

Birthplace: Huntsville, AL

Citizenship: United States

Previous Club: AFC Ann Arbor (USL League Two)

Instagram: @jakerufe

Player Profile:

Name: Eli Crognale

Position: Midfielder

Number: 12

Height: 6' 0"

Weight: 170 lbs.

Birthdate: December 12, 1997 (age: 22)

Birthplace: Columbus, OH

Citizenship: United States

Previous Club: University of Maryland (NCAA D1)

Instagram: @elicrognale


Missing soccer? Catch the next match of the Legion FC Rewind series next Saturday night, May 16, as a replay of last season's home win over rivals Memphis 901 FC airs on local channel My68 from 6:30-8:30 PM. Hammer Down!

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