Chris Lema was honored with a USL Championship second-team selection in 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Red Bulls II)
SAN ANTONIO – The Red Bulls II loss is San Antonio FC’s gain.
San Antonio FC announced Thursday it had signed midfielder Chris Lema for the 2021 USL Championship season.
The signing is pending league and federation approval and per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We are very excited to add Chris Lema to the SAFC family,” SAFC head coach Alen Marcina said in a statement. “Chris is a leader who has served as a captain, is an ultra-competitor, and holds MLS, USL, and national team experience in his young career. Chris has been among USL league leaders with on-the-ball execution and off-the-ball pressing action. He holds a high upside and will contribute to the team identity well.”
A former Championship All-League selection, Lema joins SAFC from the Red Bulls where he signed an MLS contract last January following three seasons in the Championship with the Red Bulls II. He did not see any action with the Red Bulls in 2020.
In three seasons with Red Bulls II from 2018-20, Lema appeared in 75 matches (70 starts) in all competitions, compiling 6,185 minutes played and adding six goals, 13 assists, 161 tackles, 358 duels won and 96 interceptions.
The former Red Bulls II club captain’s most impressive season came in 2019 when he led the league with 94 chances created in the regular season while adding five goals, six assists, 48 tackles won, 167 duels won and 34 interceptions in 33 appearances during the regular season. Following the 2019 season, Lema was named to the USL Championship All-League second team. In addition, the midfielder helped lead New York to the Championship playoffs in 2018 and 2019.
“I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and I cannot wait to get started,” Lema said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to meeting my teammates, coaches, staff and all the SAFC fans.”
The 24-year-old Lema joined the Red Bulls Academy in 2010 as he spent four years before moving on to attend Georgetown University and play collegiate soccer. While with the Hoyas, Lema made 78 appearances and was named a Second-Team All-American following his senior season. While in college, the New Jersey native played for the Red Bulls’ USL League Two side, making 30-plus appearances over three years. Lema has also represented the United States at the Under-17 level in his career.