Grêmio’s Luis Suarez Agrees to Deal with Inter Miami CF

Luis Suarez is headed to South Florida…

Inter Miami CF has agreed to a deal with the 36-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer and Grêmio star, according to ESPN.

Luis SuarezAs confirmed last month by his current coach at Grêmio, Renato Gaúcho, Suárez will depart the Porto Alegre-based club at the end of the Brazilian Serie A season in December despite being only halfway through the two-year contract he signed in December 2022.

The one-year deal with an option to renew for a second year has been agreed upon with Inter Miami and all that remains is to sign the contract, said ESPN.

Suárez — Uruguay’s all-time top scorer with 68 goals in 137 appearances for La Celeste — is Grêmio’s leading scorer this season, with 10 goals and 10 assists in 31 league games.

The two-time Serie A champions, who were relegated in 2021 only to bounce back one year later, sit third in the table, three points behind leaders Palmeiras with seven games remaining.

Rumors about a potential Suárez move to South Florida began circulating over the summer when Suárez admitted the high demands of the Brazilian league were taking a toll on his body, especially his knees.

He had meniscus surgery on his left knee in 2014 while with Liverpool and a similar surgery on his right knee in 2020 as a Barcelona player.

Along with Lionel Messi, Inter Miami signed fellow former Barcelona stars Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba in the middle of its season.

Suárez spent six seasons playing alongside that trio at Camp Nou from 2014 to 2020, winning four Spanish La Liga titles and the 2015 UEFA Champions League.

Last month, Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino confirmed his club’s continued interest in signing the veteran striker.

“When the moment arrives to make Suárez’s situation with respect to Inter Miami official, we’ll be prepared to go in the corresponding direction,” he said.

Lionel Messi Scores in MLS Debut to Help Lead Inter Miami to Win Over New York Red Bulls

Lionel Messi is celebrating a goal-tastic MLS debut…

In his long-awaited Major League Soccer debut, the 36-year-old Argentine soccer star netted a late goal to put the seal on a 2-0 win for Inter Miami at the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

Lionel Messi After playing nine games in just over a month following his arrival in South Florida, leading his new team to the Leagues Cup title and the final of the U.S. Open Cup, Messi was handed a well-earned rest and began the game on the substitute’s bench as Miami returned to league play in New Jersey. 

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner made his entrance to a thunderous reception in the 60th minute, and still had enough time to provide the fans with a moment to treasure.

He both set up and finished the goal, playing a pass that perhaps no one else on the field or stadium could even see — let alone play — to Benjamin Cremaschi before receiving the ball back for a simple finish in the 89th minute.

It was Messi’s eighth goal already for his new team and matched the goal he scored in his one previous appearance as a substitute — in his debut against Cruz Azul on July 21.

With Messi’s effort adding to a 37th-minute goal by Paraguayan midfielder Diego Gómez, Miami secured what was a much-needed win for the star-studded team in its uphill task to make the playoffs later this year.

Miami entered the game with an 11-game MLS winless streak that included eight defeats and had just one road victory this season. It’s 22 points were the fewest among the league’s 29 teams and there was a 12-point gap to erase to get into a playoff position.

That coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino saw that his team could prosper without Messi for an hour of the game will be a welcome bonus, particularly as the forward will be needed for the start of Argentina’s World Cup qualifying campaign next month.

However, there was doubtless initial disappointment for many watching on in Red Bull Arena and beyond.

The streets around Red Bull Arena were packed 2 1/2 hours before the match, filled with dozens of scalpers and people selling unlicensed Messi jerseys. A simulcast of the game was scheduled on a videoboard in Times Square.

Inside the stadium, fans began a chant of “we want Messi” within the first 10 minutes of kickoff.

Instead there was a chance for Miami’s three young South American signings, who joined as the less-heralded half of Miami’s summer squad overhaul alongside the three big-name ex-Barcelona stars — Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

Fellow Argentine Facundo Farías took Messi’s spot supporting Leonardo Campana in attack, Gomez offered intensity in the midfield and another Argentine Tomás Avilés held thee Red Bulls at bay in defense.

And it was Gomez who put Miami ahead with his first goal in Miami pink. After Alba’s free-kick had been half-cleared, Noah Allen sent the ball back into the box and Gomez was left free to turn and finish into the bottom corner of the net.

Messi, his eyes focused on the field throughout, rose from the bench to applaud the 20-year-old’s goal and a 1-0 lead.

The noise level inside the stadium rose once more at the start of the second half as Messi began to warm up on the sideline. It would not be long before he made his entrance, gracing the field in an MLS game for the first time more than 2 1/2 months since he announced his stunning decision to continue his career in the U.S.

At that point Miami was coming under growing pressure from the Red Bulls. But Messi’s presence, coupled with that of fellow substitute Sergio Busquets, allowed Miami to regain its composure and superiority.

His late brilliance this time was just the icing on the cake.

Gerardo “Tata” Martino Named Coach of Inter Miami CF

Gerardo “Tata” Martino is returning to Major League Soccer

The 60-year-old Argentine professional football manager and former player has been hired as the coach of Inter Miami CF, the club has revealed.

Gerardo "Tata" MartinoThe hire comes in the wake of fellow Argentine Lionel Messi‘s announcement earlier this month that he intends to sign with the club. Martino previously coached Messi with Barcelona (2013-14) and the Argentina national team (2014-16).

“We are very happy to be able to welcome Tata to Inter Miami. We feel he is a coach who matches our ambitions as a club and we’re optimistic about what we can accomplish together,” Inter Miami managing owner Jorge Mas said in a statement.

“Tata has coached at the highest levels and we believe that experience will be hugely beneficial to us as we aim to compete for titles here.”

Most recently, Martino coached the Mexico national team (2019-2022) after a two-year stint with Atlanta United, where he won MLS Cup and the Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year award in 2018.

“Right now, this is a team that shows an adverse picture in the standings,” Martino said of the Eastern Conference‘s last-place team. “It is also decimated by injuries and by the players called up to their national teams.

“But there are great expectations around the new players that are going to come soon. They are really important. I hope that they can help us to make the team better from an emotional and playing point of view so we can have a season-ending more in line with what is expected of this club.”

Martino is the third permanent head coach Inter Miami has had since joining the league in the 2020 season. Former Uruguay national team coach Diego Alonso coached the team during its expansion season before Phil Neville was hired prior to the 2021 season.

Miami qualified as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season but was eliminated in the first round. Neville was fired earlier this month with the team in last place.

Mas told media outlets last week he expects Messi to play his first game for the club on July 21 in the Leagues Cup against Liga MX‘s Cruz Azul. The club also announced Messi’s longtime teammate at Barcelona, Sergio Busquets, will also make the move to South Florida and Inter Miami this summer.

Orbelin Pineda Joins LaLiga Side Celta Vego

Orbelin Pineda is heading to LaLiga

The 25-year-old Mexican professional footballer and Mexico international has joined LaLiga side Celta Vigo from Liga MX club Cruz Azul.

Orbelin Pineda 

The move comes after several months of rumors about a potential deal, with Celta confirming Pineda will have a five-year contract through June 2027.

Pineda’s career has been on the rise in the last couple of years for club and country and is expected to bolster Celta’s attack, playing on the wings or in a more interior midfield role.

With Cruz Azul, he was a key figure who helped them end their title drought through a Liga MX championship in the 2021 Clausura.

With the Mexican national team, he has recently established himself as a reliable option for manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino through six World Cup qualifying appearances in 2021.

At Celta, he’ll now be tasked with helping rejuvenate the Galician side that have made a very gradual and slow climb out of the bottom and into the mid-table of Spain’s top flight this season.

Pineda’s transfer is the first and only move so far of the winter window for a Mexican talent from Liga MX into a major European league.

Liga MX has proven to be an insular transfer market that can hold onto domestic names like Pineda, and in his case, the player had to wait until he was a free agent to make the leap to Spain.

Now at Celta, Pineda will play alongside fellow El Tri teammate, defender Nestor Araujo. Celta’s coach, Eduardo “Chacho” Coudet, also spent time in Liga MX through a short stint as manager of Club Tijuana in 2017.

https://twitter.com/RCCeltaEN/status/1479471663897100292

Julian Araujo Earns First Senior Call-Up for Mexico for El Tri’s Friendly Against Chile

Julian Araujo is ready to make his Mexican debut…

The 20-year-old Mexican American professional footballer, currently playing for LA Galaxy, could make his first appearance for Mexico after he earned his first senior call-up with the national team ahead of a December 8 friendly against Chile in Austin, Texas.

Julian AraujoAraujo is one of a number of youngsters and newcomers in the 23-player squad who will look to impress Mexico manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino.

Araujo has dual-nationality and represented the United States at youth level. He was a member of the provisional 2021 Gold Cup roster for the senior U.S. squad. USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter said in the summer that Araujo was “not ready to fully commit to the team” after he had made himself unavailable for selection for the Gold Cup.

In October, the right-back announced that he had made the switch to Mexico.

Fellow Galaxy teammate Efrain Alvarez has also been included in Mexico’s squad. Like Araujo, Alvarez switched to Mexico from the U.S. and made his senior debut for Martino during a friendly in March.

Another notable inclusion to Mexico’s squad is Arsenal youngster Marcelo Flores, who is also eligible to represent Canada and England. Flores, 18, had been cleared by the Premier League club to join the El Tri camp last week. The attacking midfielder was included in Canada’s provisional squad for the 2021 Gold Cup, but took part in the Revelations Cup tournament last month with Mexico’s youth national team. He has yet to make a senior debut for any squad.

Mexico also included Union Espanola‘s Benjamin Galdames to the squad. The 20-year-old midfielder is the son of former Chile international Pablo Galdames and eligible to play for both nations.

Other players who could earn their first senior cap for Mexico include: Emilio Lara, Mauro LainezSalvador Reyes, Israel Reyes, Omar Campos, Carlos Acevedo, Luis Malagon, and Luis Olivas.

The upcoming match will be Mexico’s first trip to Austin’s Q2 Stadium, and Mexico will look to close out the year with a win after losing to the USMNT and Canada in November during CONCACAF‘s Octagonal round of World Cup qualifying.

GOALKEEPERS: Alfredo Talavera (Pumas UNAM), Carlos Acevedo (Santos Laguna), Luis Malagon (Necaxa)

DEFENDERS: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Emilio Lara, Salvador Reyes (America), Jordan Silva (America), Luis Olivas (Guadalajara), Israel Reyes (Puebla)

MIDFIELDERS: Erik Lira (Pumas UNAM), Erick Aguirre (Monterrey), Alfonso Gonzalez (Monterrey), Uriel Antuna (Guadalajara), Fernando Beltran (Guadalajara), Omar Campos (Santos Laguna), Alan Cervantes (Santos Laguna), Sebastian Cordova (America), Marcelo Flores (Arsenal)

FORWARDS: Eduardo Aguirre (Santos Laguna), Benjamin Galdames (Union Espanola), Santiago Gimenez (Cruz Azul), Mauro Lainez (America), Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy)

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano Among Players Called Up by Mexico for World Cup Qualifiers vs. U.S., Canada

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano is getting called up…

The 26-year-old Mexican professional footballer, who plays for Napoli, will headline a strong squad when Mexico faces its last World Cup qualifiers of 2021.

Hirving "Chucky" LozanoLozano will be joined by Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Raul Jimenez and 24 other players by Mexico manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino to face the United States and Canada for two tough road games to close out their 2021 schedule.

El Tri will face the Stars and Stripes on November 12 in Cincinnati before facing off against the Canadians four days later in Edmonton.

In total, Martino named eight Europe-based players to the squad, with Lozano, Jimenez and Porto winger Jesus “Tecatito” Corona once again expected to head Mexico’s attack.

Atletico Madrid‘s Hector Herrera was also recalled, along with veteran central midfielder Andres Guardado (Real Betis).

Edson Alvarez (Ajax), fresh off qualifying to the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, is another star named to Martino’s squad.

Johan Vasquez (Genoa) and Nestor Araujo (Celta Vigo) are expected to anchor the central defense.

Among those who’ll miss out on this window include Betis winger Diego Lainez and Genk defender Gerardo Arteaga. Lainez has been slowly coming back into the fold for Betis after an injury sidelined him for the first months of the season.

Arteaga, on the other hand, has featured regularly for the Belgian side but has reportedly received the ire of Martino for declining a previous call-up. In Arteaga’s absence, Liga MX stars Luis Rodriguez (Tigres) and Jorge Sanchez (Club America) are expected to start in the full-back positions.

Veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa (Club America) heads the goalkeeping position, along with Rodolfo Cota (Leon) and Alfredo Talavera (UNAM).

Other Liga MX-based forwards named to the team include Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey) and Henry Martin (Club America).

With 14 points in six matches, Mexico currently sits first in CONCACAF‘s final round of World Cup qualifying, three more than second-place U.S. and four more than Canada.