Jhonder Cadiz is ready to kick things up in Major League Soccer…
MLS expansion side Nashville SC has a new Designated Player, with the club announcing they acquired the 25-year-old soccer player and striker on loan from Portuguese giants Benfica.
Cadiz spent last season on loan in France with Dijon and becomes Nashville’s third DP signing, with the MLS club having an option to buy.
“Jhonder has been an outstanding striker at the highest of levels in both European and South American competitions, and we think his game is tailor-made for Major League Soccer,” said Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs. “The combination of his athleticism and clinical ability around the box made him heavily sought after. We feel fortunate to be able to add him to our club.”
Cadiz, who scored two goals in 15 appearances with Dijon last season in Ligue 1, racked up 10 the previous season for Portugal’s Vitoria Setubal, leading him to sign a five-year contract with Benfica in June 2019.
“I’m very excited to join Nashville SC and to be a part of this inaugural year for the club,” Cadiz said in a statement. “I’m incredibly motivated to showcase my game in Nashville and Major League Soccer and to help the club reach every goal in 2020 and beyond.”
Nashville returns to action Saturday against Atlanta United.
The 27-year-old Mexican professional footballer has signed with Atlanta United after placing Josef Martinez on the season-ending injury list.
Martinez, the 2018 Major League Soccer MVP, tore the ACL in his right knee in Atlanta’s season-opening 2-1 win over Nashville SC on February 29. He underwent surgery on March 18.
By being placed on the season-ending injury list, Martinez won’t be able to play in any MLS competitions for the remainder of the 2020 season. Per MLS roster rules, the Martinez move allowed Atlanta to obtain roster relief in the form of an open roster spot, as well as salary budget relief up to $250,000 to sign a replacement.
Atlanta has struggled in Martinez’s absence, failing to score a single goal while losing all three games at the MLS is Back tournament. That run of results led to the team parting ways with manager Frank de Boer on July 24.
“Josef’s rehab is progressing well and is going to plan; however, it was important for us to make this move as it gives us roster relief and flexibility for the rest of the 2020 season,” Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. “We will miss his ability and leadership on the field this season, but we look forward to having him back at the start of preseason next year.”
In Martinez’s place, the Five Stripes acquired Torres, who was out of contract after spending the last two years with Liga MX side CD Tijuana. Having played previously with two other MLS teams — the now-defunct Chivas USA and the Houston Dynamo — Torres is familiar with the league, and has the added benefit of holding a green card, meaning he will count as a domestic player.
“‘Cubo’ is a natural goal-scoring forward who will bolster our frontline and we’re pleased to add a player of his quality to the team,” Bocanegra said. “He has consistently shown his finishing abilities in MLS, Liga MX and on the international stage, and we expect him to immediately contribute to the second half of our season.”
Torres was at one point considered an up-and-coming star in Mexico, breaking in with Guadalajara as a 17-year-old in 2010. He was loaned to Chivas USA in 2013, scoring 23 goals in 51 league and cup appearances over the next two seasons.
Following Chivas USA’s folding after the 2014 season, MLS purchased Torres’ contract, making him a Designated Player. He eventually landed in Houston, though his form was uneven during his tenure there. He went 23 league and cup appearances without scoring and was twice loaned to Guadalajara and Cruz Azul during that time.
Torres bounced back in 2017, scoring 14 goals in 31 league and playoff appearances, five of which came from the penalty spot. Torres returned to Mexico in 2018 with Pumas and later Tijuana, but has struggled to find success since. Over the last two years, he has scored nine goals in 45 league and cup appearances. At the international level, Torres scored one goal in seven appearances for Mexico.
Nashville SC has signed the 22-year-old Costa Rican soccer player and Deportivo Saprissa midfielder, according to ESPN.
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 Godoy, David Accam, and Designated Player Hany Mukhtar.