Real Monarchs

Real Monarchs Sign Five Players Ahead of Home Opener

HERRIMAN, Utah (Tuesday, March 12, 2024) – Real Monarchs announce five new signees ahead of its third MLS NEXT Pro season. Real Monarchs sign forwards Damien Barker John, Sebastian Joffre and Benjamin Redžić, midfielder Noel Caliskan and goalkeeper Marzuq Puckerin to MLS NEXT Pro contracts.

Barker, 19, joins the Monarchs after being drafted by Real Salt Lake late last year in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft. The former Louisville Cardinal was taken off of the board in the second round, with the 37th overall pick by RSL. After a successful sophomore year, the forward earned 2023 All-ACC Second-Team and 2023 All-South Region Third-Team honors leading Barker to declare for the 2024 draft.

Prior to playing college ball, Barker had a successful career with club Queensboro FC, where he helped them win the UPSL Northeast Premier championship. Barker also led Queensboro as the leading scorer in their 2020 USL Academy Cup Championship campaign. Prior to appearing for Queensboro FC, Barker spent time with both Met Oval and NYCFC’s academy team.

Joffre, 24, joined the Monarchs from RWD Molenbeek from the Jupiler Pro League in Belgium. The Bolivian forward has played in the states before heading back to Europe. Joffre played for Eastern Florida State College and then Orlando City B, where he appeared in three USL League One matches. In 2022, Joffe spent some time in the Premier League 2 on loan with Crystal Palace U21 before signing with Botafogo, RWDM, and then ultimately the Monarchs.

Redžić, 21, joins the Monarchs as a free agent, last appearing for FC Dallas. Born in Carrollton, Texas, Redžić had been a lifetime member at FC Dallas after joining the FC Dallas Academy at six years old and participating on a variety of squads including the U-13 through U-19 teams. In his time with the teenage academy teams, Redžić scored 53 goals in 93 appearances.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina / American forward made his professional debut with North Texas SC, FC Dallas’ then-USL League One now MLS NEXT Pro affiliate on July 25, 2020 against Forward Madison. Redžić found the back of the net for his first professional goal in his debut.

“The addition of these three provides another layer of depth to our already very deep attacking squad,” said Tony Beltran, RSL Assistant General Manager. “As with all our players, we look forward to supporting their continued development on campus, and to witnessing their impact in the campaign ahead.”

Caliskan, 23, joins Real Monarchs from Portland Timbers FC, where he appeared multiple times for the first team, as well as for Portland Timbers 2. The German midfielder was selected by Portland 15th overall in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft out of Loyola Marymount University.

Caliskan started his pro debut off hot after signing with Timbers 2 scoring three goals in four appearances which included three starts. Caliskan would quickly get called up to the first team, earning four appearances in MLS competitions and two appearances in US Open Cup. One highlight of Caliskan’s 2023 season was his 90-minute, two-assist performance in the U.S. Open Cup against RSL in the Round of 32, a 4-3 Salt Lake road win.

Caliskan made his first appearance with the organization in RSL’s 2024 season debut against Inter Miami CF on February 21 as a Short-Term Call-up. After subbing on in the 77th minute, Caliskan was given the difficult task of containing Lionel Messi. Caliskan earned another Short-Term Call-Up and his first RSL start in its most recent match against Rocky Mountain Cup rival Colorado Rapids, where he logged 81 minutes.

“Noel is a player we’ve been tracking since his time at LMU and most recently at the NEXT Pro and MLS level. We’re thrilled to welcome Noel to our Club, and look forward to his continued contributions and growth with the Real Monarchs.”

Puckerin, 21, joins Real Monarchs as a free agent, last signing with North Carolina FC, members of the USL Championship. In North Carolina, Puckerin never made his debut, only appearing on the sideline for the two matches during his 25-day contract. With five years of experience split between both MLS Next and MLS NEXT Pro matches, Puckerin is very familiar and experienced with the league, providing more depth to the Monarchs goalkeeper room.

“Marzuq is another worthy addition to our prodigious youth goalkeeping depth chart,” stated Beltran. “An impressive foundation of physical and technical tools are well-complemented by the resources now available to him. All of us at the Club remain eager for Marzuq’s continued development with Real Monarchs this season.”

Early in 2018, Puckerin was invited to train with the United States U17 Youth National Team on three different occasions. Following the USYNT invitations, Puckerin trained professionally with West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers before coming back to the states. Puckerin was once again called overseas for a training stint with Aberdeen FC in early 2020 and again for trial at Hartford Athletic in the summer of 2020

Transaction: Real Monarchs acquire five new signees; Damien Barker John, Sebastian Joffre, Benjamin Redžić, Noel Caliskan, Marzuq Puckerin. Sign all five players to MLS NEXT Pro contracts.

Player Information:

Name: Damien Barker John

Position: Forward

Height: 5’ 8”

Date of Birth: December 7, 2004

Age: 19

Birthplace: Queens, New York

Citizenship: United States

Previous Club: University of Louisville, 2024 MLS SuperDraft

Name: Noel Caliskan

Position: Midfield

Height: 5’ 11”

Date of Birth: August 29, 2000

Age: 23

Birthplace: Cologne, Germany

Citizenship: Germany

Previous club: Portland Timbers FC

Name: Sebastian Joffre

Position: Forward

Height: 5’ 9”

Date of Birth: August 21, 1999

Age: 24

Birthplace: Portachuelo, Bolivia

Citizenship: Bolivia

Previous Club: RWD Molenbeek

Name: Benjamin Redžić

Position: Forward

Height: 5’ 8”

Date of Birth: September 26, 2002

Age: 21

Birthplace: Carrollton, Texas

Citizenship: Bosnia-Herzegovina/ United States

Previous Club: FC Dallas

Name: Marzuq Puckerin

Position: Goalkeeper

Height: 6’ 2”

Date of Birth: October 16, 2002

Age: 21

Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Citizenship: United States

Previous Club: North Carolina FC

Real Monarchs concluded the 2023 season at 8-5-15 (31 points) in their second season in MLS NEXT Pro. The Monarchs look to build on their late success of the 2023 season with the upcoming 2024 campaign, kicking off this Friday at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman against Portland Timbers 2 at 7:00 pm MT, in new manager Mark Lowry’s club debut.

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