Gio Reyna to Join US Men’s National Soccer Team

Gio Reynais movin’ on up…

United States manager Gregg Berhalter has confirmed that the 17-year-old part-Argentine American soccer player and Borussia Dortmund midfielder will be called up to the senior team for the March international window.

Gio Reyna

Earlier, Reyna was named to a 50-man provisional roster for the Olympicqualifying tournament, which spans beyond the March international window. But Berhalter, speaking at a reporters’ roundtable during MLS Media Day, stated that Dortmund wouldn’t allow Reyna to be released for the Olympic qualifying tournament, and that his performances warranted getting called up to the full team.

Reyna, the son of former U.S. internationalClaudio Reynalast week became the youngest American to play in Champions League at 17 years and 97 dayswith an impressive performance that included an assist in BVB‘s 2-1 home victory over Paris Saint-Germain.

“We want our younger players performing and playing at a high level, and [Reyna] is doing that,” said Berhalter. “And as a result of him doing that he gets an opportunity with the first team.”

Reyna has made immense strides this season, even as the U.S.Under-17team exited the group stage at the FIFA U17 World Cuplast fall. Berhalter chalked that up to Reyna finding a rhythm within the Dortmund team. The previous season Reyna had to wait until he received his European passport before he could begin playing official games for the club at youth level.

“It was a very choppy year for him in terms of his development,” said Berhalter. “And I think we saw some of that at the U17 [World Cup]. You could tell he didn’t have rhythm.

This year Reyna has had more of an opportunity to settle in and rise through the ranks of the team.

“You can see [Reyna] has rhythm now and he has a good understanding of what the team wants to do. And they’re using him in a way where you know they’re not asking him to take full responsibility in terms of he doesn’t have to carry a team. He’s playing a role, and he’s executing his role.”

The result has been that Reyna’s qualities have shown through.

“[Reyna’s] position when he gets the ball in the pocket, his awareness to turn and his efficiency when he’s turning his excellent,” said Berhalter. “He doesn’t waste any touches turning, he turns right away. The second thing is his ball security under pressure is phenomenal.”

Now Berhalter must try to figure out Reyna’s best position, although he concedes it’s a nice dilemma to face.

“I can see [Reyna] playing as a winger. I can see him playing potentially as a No. 10 and a 4-3-3,” said Berhalter. “He can play a number of different positions. I like him being able to affect the game on the offensive side, similar to Christian[Pulisic]. They’ve been using him on the left. He can also play on the right so I think he gives you flexibility.”

Jurgen Damm Reportedly Headed to Atlanta United This Summer

Jurgen Damm is set to play Major League Soccer

The 27-year-old Mexican winger is set to leave Tigres UANL for Atlanta United this summer on a free transfer after running down his contract, according to ESPN.

Jurgen Damm

Multiple outlets in Mexico have reportedDamm’s imminent departure, with MedioTiempo suggestingDamm’s contract with the MLSclub will be three-and-a-half years.

Damm has made over 200 appearances in Liga MX, but has found regular playing time difficult of late with Tigres, partly due to injury, and has opted for a change of scenery. Damm has won four Liga MX titles in his time at Tigres and has 12 caps for the Mexico national team.

“After consulting with my family, the best thing for me is to take a different direction in June and there’s nothing but thanks towards this institution [Tigres],” said Damm in a press conference on Tuesday. “I’ll fulfill my contract, I tried to give my best, I always tried to be professional, but what you look for is more continuity. [Tigres] gave me opportunities and I didn’t make the most of them.”

“I’m not going to say where [I’m going], I’m not going to speak more, I told the directors that I won’t renew,” he added. “It’s not an economic issue. I never asked for more money.”

Damm was on the verge of tears when making the announcement, having joined Tigres from Pachucain 2015. The player, who has a German passport, was regularly linked with a move to Europe.

Tigres president Miguel Angel Garza had stated on Monday that the club intended to renew Damm’s contract and that the player was open to the idea.Damm was free to talk to clubs six months before his contract was up and will leave Tigres after the 2020 Clausura season.

Chicago Fire Acquire Gaston Gimenez from Velez Sarsfield

Gaston Gimenez’s career is on fire

The Chicago Fire have acquired the 28-year-old Argentine professional footballer, a defensive midfielder, from Velez Sarsfield for an undisclosed transfer fee.

Gaston Gimenez

Gimenez will occupy an international slot as a Designated Player on the Fire’s 2020 roster, pending a medical review and receipt of his international transfer paperwork. 

He’s under contract with Chicago through the 2021 season with a club option for 2022.

Gimenez has spent his entire professional career in his native Argentina, most recently with Velez in the Superliga. He has made 42 appearances with the club since 2018.

“We are thrilled to acquire a player with the quality of Gaston Gimenez,” Chicago head coach Raphael Wicky said in a club statement. “Gaston has a great left foot and is very gifted in the technical and physical aspects of the game. In addition, his humility and desire to always give his best for the team will fit in very well with the culture that we are establishing here at the Fire. I am looking forward to welcoming him to Chicago and having him be a leader on our team.”

A media outlet in Argentina reported the transfer fee was $4.3 million.

Gimenez has earned one cap with Argentina’s senior national team, playing in a friendly against Mexico in 2018.

The Fire open the MLS regular season on the road on Sunday against the defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders.

Nicolas Lodeiro Leads Seattle Sounders to MLS Cup Final

Nicolas Lodeiro is celebrating a clutch performance…

The 30-year-old Uruguayan footballer scored a goal and assisted on two more by Raul Ruidiaz to help the Seattle Sounders advance to the MLS Cup final for the third time in four years with a 3-1 victory over Los Angeles FC on Tuesday night.

Nicolas Lodeiro

Ruidiaz and Lodeiro scored four minutes apart in the first half to claim the lead for the Sounders, who upset the Supporters’ Shield-winning top seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a superb big-game performance. Seattle also beat two-year-old LAFCfor the first time in five meetings.

Eduard Atuesta scored in the opening minutes on a free kick for LAFC, which reached the MLS records for points, goals and goal differential during arguably the best regular season in league history. LAFC then beat the crosstown LA Galaxy5-3 last Thursday for its first playoff victory.

But the Sounders have years of playoff experience that LAFC can’t match, and their leaders led them back to the one-game league final. Seattle won the league title in 2016 and lost to Toronto FCin 2017.

Seattle will either host Toronto or visit defending champion Atlanta United for the MLS Cup final next Sunday. The Eastern Conference finalists meet Wednesday night.

Lodeiro followed up his outstanding performance against Real Salt Lakein the conference semifinal with another dominant offensive game. He set up Ruidiaz’s goal and then scored his own in a blistering sequence late in the first half.

Ruidiaz made it 3-1 in the 64th minute when Lodeiro stole an attempted clearance and fed him for a beautiful shot past Tyler Miller, the former Sounders backup goalkeeper. Ruidiaz, the 5ft 7in Peruvian forward, has six goals in just five career MLS postseason games.

Seattle slowed down the most potent offensive team in MLS history with physical defense, sometimes on the edge of legality. The Sounders committed 12 fouls and appeared to get away with two handballs in their box by defender Xavier Arreaga, but they largely kept the ball away from probable MLS MVP Carlos Vela, who followed up his record 34-goal regular season with two goals against the Galaxy last week.

LAFC went ahead in the 17th minute when Atuesta curled a beautiful free kick into the corner from outside the box. The Colombian midfielder’s goal was only his second since July, but his importance to the LAFC’s two-way play was recognized this week when he was named to the Best XI.

But the North End supporters’ section hadn’t even settled back in when the Sounders answered five minutes later. Lodeiro broke down LAFC’s defense and set up a move and a goal by Ruidiaz, who led the Sounders with 11 goals this season.

LAFC then gave too much space in front of goal to Lodeiro, and the Sounders captain slipped a low shot into Miller’s left corner.

Matias Almeyda To Continue as the San Jose Earthquakes’ Manager

Matias Almeyda isn’t going anywhere…

The 45-year-old Argentine former-footballer-turned-manager has confirmed that he’ll  remain manager of the San Jose Earthquakes and won’t be leaving to take up the reins at Liga MX side C.F. Monterrey.

Matias Almeyda

Since Almeyda was named the Quakes manager last year, there have been speculation that Almeyda would depart. Various reports last week had Almeyda exiting the Quakes to join up with LosRayados, who subsequently hired Antonio Mohamed.

Speaking at his season-ending press conference, Almeyda confirmed that he’s had several offers from different clubs over the course of the year, as well as one national team from South America. He added that his agent, Lalo Hernandez, had met with Monterrey officials.

“I thanked them that they thought about me,” said Almeyda about Monterrey with the help of a translator. “And keeping in mind the contract that I had here, I told them that I cannot keep going with these talks because my mind is here in San Jose and my players. And with the directors, we’ve talked about having project and moving up the hierarchy in this club and which I believe in, and which I’ve projected my life here now.”

Almeyda admitted that the Monterrey job was attractive, but that he sees his future in San Jose.

“A club like Monterrey is tempting to any coach, because they have a very rich squad, a marvelous club, and it’s a club in which any coach would dive in head first,” he said. “If I was in Monterrey and the same thing would have happened, I would have stayed in Monterrey because I keep my word. Many Mexican journalists have called me, throughout these days, which we spoke about. I publicly apologize because I never responded to their calls. So everything that was spoken was their own imagination and lies. That’s why I want to be honest with myself. I’ve been honest with people in San Jose, and I’ve been honest with the approach that Lalo Hernandez had there. I have nothing left to say but thank you to those people.”

Almeyda has previously managed River Plateand Banfield in his native Argentina, as well as Liga MX side Chivas. He said that in his previous stints, he had always left by mutual agreement, and not because he simply wanted to leave for a better job. Almeyda admitted that of the offers he received after his tenure with Chivas ended in 2018, San Jose’s offer was the lowest one economically.

“Coaches always get mad when we get fired,” he said. “We have to be coherent and keep going when we have a contract, although the tempting offers are 10 times larger than where you at.”

He added, “I have a group of players for which I’m grateful for what they put in. There’s staff, directors and owners who have given me all that they can. I’m only left to say that I’m grateful being in this place. I’m hopeful that this place will keep growing, that we can grow in terms of hierarchy every day. That’s why changing clubs doesn’t even cross my mind.”

In terms of next season, Almeyda said he didn’t expect there to be many changes to the Quakes’ roster and that the team would be selective in terms of its reinforcements. This despite the fact that while San Jose recorded a 23 point improvement this season, it failed to reach the MLS Cupplayoffs, losing nine of its last 11 games.

Brian Fernandez Scores to Give the Portland Timbers a Dramatic Win Over Sporting Kansas City

Brian Fernandez is celebrating a big win….

The 24-year-old Argentine professional footballer scored in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time to give the Portland Timbers a dramatic 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night.

Brian Fernandez

Star forward Diego Valeri set up the goal with a left-footed baseline cross for his 16th assist of the season. Fernandez was on the doorstep waiting for the ball to arrive and put himself in position to head it into the net to give the Timbers a crucial victory.

Forward Jeremy Ebobisse scored in the 83rd minute for the Timbers (13-11-4), who raised their point total to 43, in a tie with Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas for the fifth-most points in the MLS Western Conference.

Portland protected the lead over the final three-plus minutes of stoppage time to hand Sporting (10-12-7, 37 points) a damaging loss. SKCis five points behind the Los Angeles Galaxy, who hold the final playoff position in the West.

Randall Leal Signs with Nashville SC

Randall Leal is ready to kick it in Music City…

Nashville SC has signed the 22-year-old Costa Rican soccer player and Deportivo Saprissa midfielder, according to ESPN.

Randall Leal

Leal’s salary will be above the threshold for a Young Designated Player, but it is unclear if Targeted Allocation Money will be used to buy down his hit to the salary budget.

Leal is currently in his second season with Saprissa, having made 38 league and cup appearances while scoring six goals. He spent the previous three seasons with Belgian side KV Mechelen. In 2013, Leal began his professional career in his native Costa Rica with Belen FC.

At international level, Leal has made 11 appearances for Costa Rica, including three at the Gold Cupearlier this summer.

Leal joins a growing list of players ahead of Nashville’s debut season in MLS, one that includes the likes of Anibal GodoyDavid Accam, and Designated Player Hany Mukhtar.

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez Scores for Record-Setting 11th Straight Match

Josef Martinez has kicked his way into the MLSrecord books…

The 26-year-old Venezuelan professional footballer, a striker for Atlanta United FC, scored for the 11th straight match, a Major League Soccer record, and his team cruised to a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Sunday night at Portland’s Providence Park.

Josef Martinez

The win was Atlanta’s seventh in the past eight games across all competitions, and it vaulted them into first place in the MLS Eastern Conference. With goal differential as the tiebreaker, Atlanta United (14-9-3) took over first place from the Philadelphia Union, though both teams are on 45 points.

The Timbers (11-10-4) missed a chance to move up to fourth place in the Western Conference. The loss kept them in seventh place with the third tiebreaker advantage over FC Dallas, which is total goals scored.

Portland lost for just the second time in 10 league matches in a rematch of the two teams that played for the MLS Cuplast December, won by Atlanta. The Timbers have played three games of a 10-game homestead.

Leandro Gonzalez Pirez scored off a rebound of a blocked shot from Martinez in the 14th minute, and Atlanta took a 1-0 lead into halftime despite numerous chances for the Timbers.

The Timbers couldn’t convert an on-target header from Jeremy Ebobisse, saved by Brad Guzan in the 42nd minute, and had an apparent goal nullified by an offside call.

Atlanta United was close to a 2-0 lead in extra time of the first half, but Steve Clark stopped Ezequiel Barco‘s breakaway shot. They took the 2-0 lead 45 seconds into the second half when Martinez chipped an open shot past Clark after a pinpoint assist from Julian Gressel.

Martinez raised his season goal total to 21.

Portland defenderJulio Cascante had a header miraculously saved by Guzan, who had five saves, in the 64th minute.

Cristian Pavón to Play for the MLS’ LA Galaxy

Cristian Pavón is headed to a galaxy far, far away…

The LA Galaxy have completed the loan signing of the 23-year-old Argentine professional footballerfrom Argentina’s Boca Juniors, the club has revealed.

Cristian Pavón

Pavon becomes the first signing for the Major League Soccerside in this transfer window.

“Cristian is a young and dynamic attacking addition who has the talent to be one of the most effective offensive players in Major League Soccer,” LA Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese said in a statement.

“He is a high-caliber player who will be a valuable piece to our roster moving forward. By providing him with a stable environment and a coach he knows well, we are confident that he can continue to grow and improve as a player within our club. We are extremely excited to add him to our squad and look forward to his contributions with the LA Galaxy.”

Sources told ESPN FC that the Galaxy attempted to sign the forward on a permanent deal but were unable to agree on a fee.

Both clubs have now negotiated an agreement, which will see the Argentina international join on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Pavon played every match for Argentina in the 2018 World Cupin Russia and scored four goals in 19 appearances for Boca last season.

Portland Timbers Finalize Transfer of Brian Fernandez from Necaxa

Brian Fernandezwill be playing Major League Soccer soon…

The Portland Timbers have completed the transfer of the 24-year-old Argentine footballer from Necaxa, according to ESPN FC.

Brian Fernandez

While multiple outlets reported in recent weeks have reported that the terms of the deal had been finalized, the Athletic was first to report that the transfer is complete, with Fernandez securing his work visa in the last few days.

No word on the precise fee, but it reportedly dwarfs the previous club record of close to $5 million the Timbers paid for Lucas Melano back in 2017, though it’s not as high as the $12 million previously reported.

Fernandez can play either as a central striker or on the wing, and is expected to arrive in Portland as early as Monday. The signing also concludes the Timbers’ lengthy and at times public search for a new attacking piece, which saw them linked with the likes of the Tigresduo of Julian Quinones and Eduardo Vargas, as well as AEK Athens‘ on-loan attacker Ezequiel Ponce.

It is also believed that Fernandez won’t have to serve out the remaining two games of a three-game suspension he recently was handed following a red card and then a subsequent altercation with a fan as he left the field, though MLS will ultimately have the final say.

While it was an ignominious end to his Necaxa career, Fernandez’s stint with Los Rayos resurrected his career. While on the books of Racing Club, Fernandez was suspended for a year by CONMEBOLfollowing a failed drug test in which he tested positive for cocaine.

A series of loan stints followed with the likes of Sarmiento, Metz and Union La Calera, but his time with Necaxa proved highly productive, with the Argentine scoring 12 goals in 15 games during the current Clausura. Overall, Fernandez scored 18 goals in 32 league and cup appearances.

Fernandez joins the Timbers with three games remaining in Portland’s season opening 12-game road swing due to renovations at its home venue, Providence Park. The Timbers have so far gone 3-5-1 and sit in ninth place in the 12-team Western Conference.