By Kevin Estrada
PASIG -- New signings and a new kit deal. That's how the FC Meralco Manila amped up its preparations for the inaugural Philippines Football League season into higher voltage Wednesday afternoon at the Lighthouse inside the fabled headquarters of the country's largest electric company.
Formerly named as Loyola FC, the Sparks returned to Mizuno as its kit provider after a five-year absence, putting up a much improved deal from the last time they were partners, in which the club will sell the authentic kits and more affordable replicas to its supporters.
"We are thrilled to be back with Meralco for this upcoming season. We are sure that with the help of Mizuno, the Sparks can excel on and off the field," enthused Master Sports' Karla Bello, who signed a memorandum of agreement with the team to be the team's official sportswear supplier on Wednesday.
The club's vice chair Randy Roxas expressed its readiness to compete with the other pioneering PFL sides, opening their season with the Invitational Cup final rematch away at Stallion-Laguna on May 6.
"I am so excited by the team's prospects for the PFL. This is the strongest side we have ever assembled and I believe we can succeed in this first year of the national league," Roxas said, having witnessed its growth from a side loaded with Ateneo alumni to one of the country's best clubs.
Out of the ten new signings, nine of them were revealed to the media while keeping one spot open, with former Global centre-back Milan Nikolic and the returning midfielder Alvin Sarmiento the highlight of the new acquisitions for Aris Caslib.
Defender Tyler Matas and midfielder James Hall were formally introduced as new signings, nearly a year after they were brought in by the team, but did not play a single second due to transfer window limits.
Benilde's Edienzel Velizano, San Beda's Connor Tacagni and Neil Dorimon, Korean midfielder Lee Joong Min and former Pasargad stalwart Jean Delos Reyes completed the cast of new acquisitions that will accompany the Younghusband brothers in their quest for their first silverware since the 2015 Smart-PFF Cup.