Alfredo Morales In Talks to Join New York City FC

Alfredo Morales is thisclose to a Big (Apple) move…

New York City FC is in talks to acquire the 30-year-old Peruvian United States international and Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder, according to ESPN.

Alfredo Morales

Dusseldorf tweeted earlier on Tuesday that Morales was in talks with a Major League Soccer side, with German outlet Bild first reporting that the team in question was NYCFC.

Morales has spent the entirety of his career in Germany, rising through the ranks of Hertha Berlin before making his debut with the first team in 2010. Morales then moved to FC Ingolstadt in 2013, where he spent five seasons before signing with Dusseldorf ahead of the 2018-19 campaign. All told, Morales has made over 320 professional appearances, scoring 24 goals.

The Berlin-born Morales was able to represent the U.S. through his father, who served in the U.S. military. The holding midfielder has played 16 times for the U.S., with his last appearance coming in a 4-0 CONCACAF Nations League victory over Cuba on November 19, 2019.

Jesus Ferreira Leads United States U-23 National Team to Critical Win Over Costa Rica

Jesus Ferreira is leading the American futbol pack…

The 20-year-old Colombian soccer player led the United States U-23 national team to a critical victory in its bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, helping them defeat Costa Rica 1-0 in its opening match of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in Guadalajara.

Jesus Ferreira

Ferreira, an attacker for FC Dallas, scored the game’s only goal in the 35th minute, and the U.S. defense made it stand up, with keeper David Ochoa making a total of eight saves in a Man-of-the-Match performance.

With Mexico and the Dominican Republic also in Group A, the victory puts the U.S. in excellent position to be one of the two teams to advance and progress to the winner-take-all semifinal.

The U.S. struggled to maintain possession as the game went on amid difficult conditions at Estadio Jalisco that included game-time temperatures approaching 90 degrees as well as altitude of over 5,000 feet. Given that the Major League Soccer season has yet to start while the Costa Rican league is in the middle of its own, the fact that Los Ticos had the better of play wasn’t that surprising.

But the U.S. made the plays that mattered, and rode the saves of Ochoa to claim all three points.

“It wasn’t great,” said U.S. manager Jason Kreis about his team’s attempts to take care of the ball. “It was an important result for us but I would say that we would have hoped to have gotten that result in a little bit of a better fashion.

“I think we would have hoped that we could have been better on the ball and make better decisions and maintain the tempo of the game better. But unfortunately, part of guys not playing matches is that it’s not just about fitness, it’s also about their touch on the ball.

“And so I felt that the majority of what Costa Rica did to hurt us was in transition, when we gave the ball away very cheaply.”

Both teams showed nerves in the early going. Ferreira robbed Costa Rica defender Fernan Faerron in the second minute, advanced on goal unimpeded, but could only hit the post with the shot.

Ochoa was then twice called on to deliver two big saves, smothering Adrian Martinez‘s shot in the seventh minute, and then another close-range Martinez effort 10 minutes later following a giveaway from U.S. defender Mauricio Pineda.

Intent on getting an equalizer, Costa Rica started the second half with the greater level of intensity. The U.S. didn’t help itself with some giveaways deep in its own half, but Ochoa was on hand again, diving to his right to deny Randall Leal‘s effort in the 48th minute and then saving from Luis Diaz three minutes later.

Juan Agudelo Signs One-Year Contract with Minnesota United FC

Juan Agudelo is heading to the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Minnesota United FC has added a much-needed striker on a free transfer by signing the 28-year-old Colombian professional soccer player, veteran MLS forward and former USMNT player to a one-year deal.

Juan Agudelo

Last season, Agudelo played 14 games and scored three goals with Major League Soccer side Inter Miami CF. Before that, he played most of his career in MLS with the New England Revolution, scoring 35 goals in 156 regular-season games.

“The crazy thing about Juan [Agudelo] is, you forget he’s just 28. He seems to have been around for years and I go back to Juan, all the way back to the beginning of Orlando,” said Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath. “He was going to go to England, Stoke City, and he was trying to get the paperwork through. He came in and asked if he could train for a week.

“Six weeks later he was still training for us, so we have got a little bit of a connection there. We just think he’s going to be another really valuable squad player for what’s going to be another really hectic year with the condensed program schedule, and for us to bring somebody in who we know can play in the MLS, play three or four positions, he can play through the middle, he can play wide right, wide left.

“Nothing is going to faze him. He had a really good impact last year when he played for Inter Miami. I think it’s a really good pick up for us.”

Agudelo began his professional career in 2010 as a Homegrown Player for the New York Red Bulls, playing his first two seasons in New Jersey. In his time with the club, he made 33 regular season appearances, totaling six goals and two assists.

Internationally, Agudelo has represented the United States at various age levels, having moved to the U.S. from Colombia at the age of seven.

He made appearances for the U17, U20 and U23 teams before earning senior call-ups.

In total, Agudelo has earned 28 senior appearances. He made his debut in a 2010 match against South Africa and scored the game’s only goal, at the time becoming the country’s youngest ever goal scorer in a senior game.

Tomas Pochettino Signs with MLS Expansion Side Austin FC as Designated Player

Tomas Pochettino is going deep in the heart of Texas…

The 25-year-old Argentine soccer player has signed on as a designated player for Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion side Austin FC has signed, the club has announced.

Tomas Pochettino

Pochettino joins forward Cecilio Dominguez as the team’s DP signings. Dominguez, a Paraguay international, moved to the club in August of 2020. 

“Tomas is a player we’ve monitored for almost a year now, and we’re excited to have landed him,” Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff said in a team statement.

Wolff added that Pochettino has “very good qualities to the way that we want to play, he’s an attack-minded midfielder, has very good dynamics in and around the penalty box to combine and to shoot from distance.”

Pochettino came up through the Boca Juniors academy before making his debut for the Buenos Aires giants in 2015. He spent the past three seasons as a standout for Argentine top-division side Talleres.

“He’s very intelligent, in finding spaces in the final third, and in passing. His runs off the ball are very smart. He’s a team player, he’s very responsible as well on the defensive side, and with him being positioned in the middle of the field, that’s important,” Austin FC sporting director Claudio Reyna said.

D.C. United’s Paul Arriola On Loan to Swansea City

Paul Arriola is heading across the pond

The 25-year-old Mexican American soccer player and D.C. United midfielder has joined U.S. teammate Jordan Morris on loan at Wales’ Swansea City, the Major League Soccer club has announced.

Paul Arriola

Arriola will spend the remainder of the 2020-21 season with the Championship club, who are currently second in the table as they seek a return to the Premier League next season.

There’s no option to buy in Arriola’s loan to Swansea.

“We have spoken with Paul and we understand how exciting this step is for him in his professional career,” Dave Kasper, D.C. United General Manager and VP of Soccer Operations, said. “We wish Paul the best of luck and look forward to him rejoining our club.”

The U.S. international, who scored two goals in the Americans’ 7-0 friendly win against Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday night, moved from Liga MX club Tijuana to D.C. on Aug. 9, 2017 and has scored 14 goals and added 13 assists in 72 appearances during his stint in MLS.

Arriola’s U.S. teammate and Seattle Sounders forward Morris, who left national team camp in January to complete his move to the Swans, made his first appearance for his new team as a substitute in a 3-1 win over Rotherham.

He was loaned to Swansea on January 22 for the second half of the English season, and the Swans have an option to purchase his rights.

Morris has 41 goals 23 assists in 121 appearances for the Sounders since signing with the club in 2016. He has 10 goals in 39 appearances for the U.S.

Arriola and Morris will try to help Swansea City back to the Premier League. The team is in second place in the English Championship with 50 points, having last played in England’s top flight in the 2017-18 season.

LAFC’s Brian Rodriguez On Loan to UD Almeria

Brian Rodriguez is headed across the Atlantic…

The 20-year-old Uruguayan footballer, an LAFC winger and Uruguay international, is set to join Spanish second-division side UD Almeria on a loan, the clubs have announced.

Brian Rodriguez 

The deal will have Rodriguez stay through the conclusion of Almeria’s 2020-21 campaign in May and could become permanent.

“Brian is joining Almeria as they make a strong push for promotion to Spain’s top division,” said LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington. “Since his arrival in 2019, Brian has been a focal point of our attack and a huge reason for our success. This move gives him a great opportunity to play important games at the highest levels of European football.”

Rodriguez joined the Major League Soccer side in 2019 from Uruguay side Penarol. In his first two seasons in Los Angeles, Rodriguez scored three goals in 25 appearances.

He has three goals in nine appearances for Uruguay, appearing for La Celeste during their most recent CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying matches.

With 16 games remaining, Almería currently sits in third place in LaLiga 2 standings with a 14-3-5 record (45 points). At the conclusion of the season, the top two teams will earn automatic promotion to Spain’s top division, while a third team earns promotion from a playoff bracket between the teams that finish from 3rd to 6th.

Federico Higuain Re-Signs with Inter Miami CF 

Federico Higuain is still bienvenido en Miami

Inter Miami CF has re-signed the 36-year-old Argentine soccer player, a veteran midfielder, to a new contract for 2021.

Federico Higuain

Higuain appeared as a substitute in four matches with Miami last season after being traded from D.C. United on October 10, 2020 for $50,000 in 2021 general allocation money.

He has 57 goals and 63 assists in 207 career games (184 starts) in the Major League Soccer (MLS) with the Columbus Crew (2012-19), D.C. United and Miami. He was named the MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2012.

“It’s great to have Federico back,” Miami chief soccer officer and sporting director Chris Henderson said in a statement. “He is a valuable asset to the team not only because of what he can contribute to on the field, but also for what he brings to the locker room, which is experience, a positive attitude and professionalism to the group.”

Higuain’s younger brother, Gonzalo, is also on the Miami roster. The 33-year-old forward had one goal and two assists in nine games last season.

Felipe Mora Signs New Contract with Portland Timbers 

Felipe Mora is headed to the Pacific Northwest

The Portland Timbers have completed the transfer of the 27-year-old Chilean soccer star from the Liga MX club Pumas UNAM and signed him to a new contract.

Felipe Mora

Originally acquired by the Timbers on a one-year loan on January 31, 2020, Mora tallied seven goals and two assists in 19 matches (13 starts) during the 2020 Major League Soccer (MLS) regular season.

“We are thrilled to bring back Felipe long term as he is an accomplished international striker in the prime of his career,” Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese said in a release. “Felipe acclimated seamlessly into the group last year, and we can’t wait for him to continue being a key contributor for the Timbers.”

Mora’s new contract uses targeted allocation money. Specific terms were not disclosed.

Mora tallied 19 goals in 65 appearances (50 starts) at Pumas UNAM from 2018-20. That followed stints with Liga MX club Cruz Azul (2017-18) and with Universidad de Chile (2016-17) in the Chilean Primera Division.

He has also competed with the Chile national team, most recently in a World Cup qualifier against Venezuela on November 17.

Alejandro Pozuelo Named Major League Soccer’s 2020 Most Valuable Player

Alejandro Pozuelo is the most-est…

The 29-year-old Spanish professional footballer, an attacking midfielder for Toronto FC, has been named Major League Soccer‘s 2020 Most Valuable Player.

Alejandro Pozuelo

Pozuelo had nine goals and 10 assists during the coronavirus-shortened regular season, even while the Reds played part of the year in Connecticut because of travel restrictions in Canada.

“I’m very proud because this means a lot and maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, when I start seeing more news, I will believe that I’ve won this award,” he said. “But I’m very proud to represent Toronto. And I know it’s easy to say that I won the award, but it’s something that takes a lot of work to get here.”

His 10 assists were tied for the league lead with Houston‘s Darwin Quintero and Seattle‘s Nicolas Lodeiro. Pozuelo had four goals and two assists during September, earning MLS Player of the Month honors.

Pozuelo is the second Toronto FC player to win the MVP award, following Sebastian Giovinco in 2015. Hailing from Sevilla, he has been with the Reds for the past two seasons. He had 12 goals and 12 assists last year. He had two goals and an assist in his MLS debut.

Pozuelo finished with 35.35% of the overall vote for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award. Golden Boot winner Diego Rossi of LAFC was runner-up and Lodeiro finished third in the poll of players, technical staffs and select members of the media.

In a conference call with reporters, Pozuelo said he feels he’ll only get better.

“I believe in myself, I know I can play good, and I try to do that,” he said. “But I feel like I played three, four, five years at a very good level and next year I’ll try to do the same.”

Toronto finished the regular season 13-5-5 and second in the Eastern Conference standings. The Reds were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by upstart Nashville. Toronto coach Greg Vanney announced last week that he’s stepping down and the Reds have started the search for a new coach.

“Vanney is a very good coach and a very good person and he helped me a lot to win this MVP. I want to say thank you to the coach,” he said. “He leaves now, and next year we’ll adapt to another coach. But I want to say thank you because with him I won this trophy.”

Los Angeles FC Acquire Marco Farfan from Portland Timbers

Marco Farfan is switching sides…

Los Angeles FC (LAFC) has acquired the 22-year-old Mexican American soccer player, an outside back, from the Portland Timbers for an undisclosed amount of allocation money, according to ESPN.

Marco Farfan

The move gives the Black-and-Gold some needed help at outside back following a season in which its defensive record slipped into the bottom half of the Major League Soccer (MLS).

The move is expected to be officially announced at the opening of the half-day trade window on December 13.

Farfan was signed by the Timbers to a homegrown player contract in October of 2016, becoming the first product of the team’s academy to sign such a deal. Over the course of the next four seasons, Farfan made 37 league and cup appearances with the Timbers’ first team, while also seeing time in the second tier USL Championship with Portland Timbers 2, the club’s reserve side. In the most recent campaign, Farfan made 15 appearances, nine of them starts.

A source with knowledge of the situation indicated that Farfan’s contract was expiring and that he was eager to find a new challenge. LAFC was able to oblige.

At international level, Farfan has made two appearances with the U.S. U-23 team. He has been called into training camp with the full US Men’s National Team (USMNT) squad ahead of the December 9 friendly against El Salvador.