Fernando Hierro Named Sporting Director of Liga MX’s Chivas

Fernando Hierro is headed to Mexico…

The 54-year-old Spanish former soccer player and former Spain sporting director and manager has been named the new sporting director of Liga MX‘s Chivas.

Fernando Hierro Monday’s announcement comes less than a week after previous sporting director Ricardo Pelaez was fired and a day after the dismissal of manager Ricardo Cadena.

With Hierro in charge, Chivas’ new leadership will have a few months to prepare for the upcoming 2023 Clausura season.

“It’s a fantastic challenge,” Hierro said. “It’s a different project, a project that carries many millions of Mexicans in its soul.”

Well known for only using players with Mexican heritage, Chivas have a unique setup that relies on domestic talent.

Chivas has a massive following and the second-most Liga MX championships (12) in history, but have not reached a Liga MX final since winning the title in 2017.

Hierro will seek to revive the slumbering giants and his first major task will be bringing in a manager that can help with the process.

“We’re looking for a coach that knows how to work with young people, who knows the league or who has been working closely with the league, also, who has trained in the big leagues in Europe,” Hierro said about the managerial search. “Those are the characteristics we have in mind that the person must have.”

Chivas struggled to just five wins in the 2022 Apertura season as they limp into the play-in round of the playoffs with a ninth-place finish.

Against Puebla on October 9 in the first round of the postseason, Chivas finished with a 1-1 draw in regulation time before being knocked out 5-4 in an ensuing penalty shootout, denying them a place in the final eight of the Liguilla. Cadena and Pelaez were then fired last week.

Before taking over Chivas, Hierro had two previous stints with the Spanish Football Federation as sporting director from 2007-11 and 2017-18. In 2016-17, he managed Real Oviedo.

In the 2018 World Cup, the former Real Madrid player took charge as manager of Spain, stepping in at the final moment when Julen Lopetegui was fired before the tournament.

He made 601 appearances for Real Madrid during an 18-year playing career which saw him win three Champions League titles and five LaLiga titles. He also won 89 caps as a player for Spain.

Luca de la Torre ThisClose to Transfer to La Liga’s Celta Vigo

Luca de la Torre is joining La Liga

The 25-year-old half-Spanish soccer player, a United States international and Heracles, is thisclose to being transferred to LaLiga side Celta Vigo for a fee near $2 million, sources have told ESPN.

Luca de la Torre,Marca was the first to report that the American is heading to Celta.

One source indicated that de la Torre is set to travel to Vigo and will have a medical on Friday. If all goes well, he will officially sign with the club.

The deal, if completed, would amount to a significant step up in competition for de la Torre, after spending the last two seasons in the Netherlands with Heracles, the most recent of which ended in the club’s relegation to the Eerste Divisie.

Spain is a highly technical league that few American players have played in.

Current Celta manager Eduardo Coudet is familiar with American soccer, however, having played for the Philadelphia Union in MLS and the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers of the now defunct North American Soccer League.

Last month, de la Torre told ESPN that he had an agreement with Heracles that he would be transferred after his second year with the club, regardless of the division the club was playing in. All told he made 64 league and cup appearances for Heracles, scoring two goals.

“There’s always been an agreement between myself and the club that I would transfer this summer, with one year left on the contract,” he told ESPN during last month’s slate of games with the U.S. men’s national team.

Heracles’ relegation, combined with the fact that the U.S. is headed to the World Cup in November, made the move necessary for de la Torre, who is eager to cement his spot on the U.S. team ahead of this November’s World Cup in Qatar, after making a late climb up the U.S. depth chart.

Since the start of 2022, he’s made seven appearances — three of the starts — while recording two assists. In that time, he has impressed U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter with his technical ability in the center of midfield, and it’s very likely he’ll be on the plane to Qatar. He has 11 appearances total with the U.S.

A native of San Diego, Calif., de la Torre played for high-level youth sides Nomads Soccer Club and the San Diego Surf. He moved to English side Fulham in 2013, progressing through their academy and making his professional debut in 2016. But a lack of playing time with the Cottagers meant leaving for Heracles, where he succeeded in proving that he could play on a consistent basis.

“It was a really great move for me,” he told ESPN last month. “I played a lot of minutes in a really good league, and I put myself back into the picture for the national team, which was the whole point of making that move in my career.”

Watford’s Cucho Hernandez to be Transferred to MLS’ Columbus Crew

Cucho Hernandez is headed to the U.S.

The Columbus Crew has reached an agreement for the transfer of the 23-year-old Colombian professional footballer from Watford, according to ESPN.

Cucho HernandezColumbus will pay a club-record fee of just more than $10 million, the source said, confirming multiple reports.

Hernandez will initially occupy a Young Designated Player slot for the Crew and be under contract through the 2025 season.

In 25 Premier League appearances during his lone season in England, Hernandez scored five goals and registered two assists. Watford was relegated to the English Championship after finishing in 19th place last season.

Prior to his time at Watford, Hernandez played three seasons on loan in Spain’s LaLiga: one with Huesca after helping the club earn promotion, then a season with each Mallorca (2019-20) and Getafe (2020-21). He scored 11 goals over those three seasons after a 17-goal campaign in Spain’s second division.

Hernandez has two appearances with the Colombian national team, including the most recent in a friendly against Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

He is expected to be available to play for Columbus, which traded U.S. international Gyasi Zardes to the Colorado Rapids earlier this season, after the Major League Soccer transfer window opens July 7.

The Crew (4-5-4, 16 points) are in 11th place in MLS’ Eastern Conference and have exceeded two goals scored just three times in 2022 and only once since March 12.

Jordi Alba’s Stoppage-Time Goal Helps Barcelona Secure Qualification for Champions League Football Next Season

Jordi Alba will be getting a hero’s welcome…

A stunning goal from the 33-year-old Spanish professional footballer deep into injury time gave FC Barcelona a 2-1 victory at Real Betis to secure qualification for the Champions League next season.

Jordi Alba, BarcelonaAlba’s unstoppable volley at the back post means Barca now has an unassailable 11-point lead over fifth-placed Betis with three games of the LaLiga season remaining.

Earlier, Barcelona had taken the lead with a first goal since January for Ansu Fati in the 76th minute. But Barca were pegged back almost immediately when former Camp Nou defender Marc Bartra headed home a corner just three minutes later.

Alba’s late goal means Xavi Hernandez has achieved his main aim after taking over midseason. It also gives Barcelona a healthy five-point cushion in second place, although third-placed Sevilla have played a game fewer.

“It’s a weight off our shoulders,” Xavi said afterward. “It could have been an even tougher season but the team has competed well since we arrived in November.

“We have not always played excellently, but we have a winning spirit and we are competitive. We’ve been all the other top half teams in the second half of the season. It’s clear we have to pay better. We have to analyze things. But the effort has been huge since November. We’re in the Champions League, a competition we deserve to be in, now we want to finish second.”

Betis forward Juanmi had the first sight of goal in an entertaining match, but his effort could only find the side-netting in the seventh minute.

Ten minutes later Manuel Pellegrini‘s side lost goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to injury as he hurt himself stretching to reach for the ball and was replaced by Rui Silva.

The Portuguese substitute, however, produced an excellent display, starting with a superb save from Ronald Araujo‘s bullet header minutes after entering the pitch.

Betis created more opportunities in a lively first half, but substitute Fati put the visitors ahead after the break with a low shot towards the left corner in the 76th minute.

“Ansu has a gift, others find it more difficult,” Xavi said. “It’s a great feeling to have him back. The goal was something we had talked about this week regarding the Betis defensive line.

“He’s a difference-maker. He just needs half a chance to score, even with a bad shot. He told me best to play him wide. I told him he could change with Auba, but he wanted to be on the left. He’s always a danger coming inside. He gets two chances, scores one and the other is dangerous. He has a gift. He’s comfortable around the box.”

Despite Bartra leveling for the Copa del Rey champions with a header, Alba sealed the game in the dying minutes.

Barcelona, who have won 10 of their last 12 league matches, are close to wrapping up second place and snatching the 3.4 million euros that the club would make by going to the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Both Copa del Rey finalists — winners Betis and runners-up Valencia — will be joined in the 2023 Spanish Super Cup finals by top two teams in the LaLiga standings.

Betis, meanwhile, missed an opportunity to move level on points with fourth-placed Atletico in their bid to secure a spot in Champions League next season, as they remain fifth with 58 points.

Before the match, Barcelona gave a guard of honor to the Betis players for their cup victory last month.

Ronald Araujo Agrees to New Contract with FC Barcelona Until 2026

Ronald Araujo is a new Billion Dollar Man

The 23-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer and FC Barcelona defender has agreed a new contract until 2026 with his release clause rising to €1 billion ($1.16bn), the club have announced.

Ronald Araujo Araujo’s previous deal was due to expire in 2023 and ESPN revealed last month that Manchester United and Liverpool were both keen on signing the Uruguay international.

The money on the table from the Premier League sides was higher than Barca‘s offer, but sources have told ESPN that the player’s priority was always to remain at Camp Nou.

Araujo has been on the same terms at Barca since 2018, when he first joined the club’s B team from Boston River in his homeland in a deal worth an initial €2 million.

That made him one of the lowest-paid players in the first team going into the current campaign, with his agents keen for his salary to rise according to his new status at the club.

Under coach Xavi Hernandez he has emerged as a key player this season, making 39 appearances in all competitions and scoring four goals, including one in the 4-0 Clasico win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu Stadium.

With Barca having to adhere to LaLiga‘s strict financial rules due to their financial problems, they have played hardball during negotiations with Araujo’s camp.

However, sources told ESPN earlier this month there had finally been a breakthrough in talks, with Barca upping their initial offer and Araujo willing to meet the club in the middle despite the offers from English clubs.

Ronald Araujo Nearing Long-Term Deal with FC Barcelona

Ronald Araujo is thisclose to a new deal…

The 23-year-old Uruguayan professional soccer player and Barcelona defender is close to agreement on a new long-term contract with the Spanish club, according to his agent.

Ronald AraujoAraujo’s current deal is set to expire in 2023; and Manchester United and Liverpool were reportedly keen on signing the Uruguay international.

Barca’s previous offer to Araujo was worth around €5 million annually, with sources saying the money on offer from the Premier League sides was worth almost double.

But, Barca has now upped its proposal, with the player’s agent, Flavio Perchman, revealing an agreement is close after a meeting with sporting director Mateu Alemany.

“It’s close,” Perchman told reporters. “There is a desire on both sides [to finalize the renewal] and Ronald wants to stay at the club.”

Araujo has been on the same deal at Barca since 2018, when he first joined the “B team” from Boston River in his homeland in a deal worth an initial €2m.

That made him one of the lowest-paid players in the first team going into the current campaign, with his agents keen for his salary to rise along with his status at the club.

Under coach Xavi Hernandez he has emerged as a key player this season, making 34 appearances in all competitions and scoring four goals, including in the recent 4-0 Clasico win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.

With Barca having to adhere to LaLiga‘s strict financial rules due to their financial problems, though, they’ve played hardball during negotiations with Araujo’s camp.

At the same time the team has been holding talks with Araujo, Barcelona has also been negotiating the signing of Andreas Christensen and even met with Antonio Rudiger‘s agent last week.

Christensen will join the club from Chelsea on a free transfer in the summer, but a move for Rudiger is less likely.

The public nature of those negotiations forced the club to up their offer to Araujo, who was willing to accept a lower deal to remain with the LaLiga side.

Araujo, Gerard Pique and Eric Garcia have been Barca’s first choice centerbacks under Xavi, with Christensen set to compete with them from the summer onwards.

Atletico Madrid’s Hector Herrera Acquired by Houston Dynamo on Designated Player Deal

It’s a dynamo-ite time for Hector Herrera

The 31-year-old Mexican soccer player and Mexico international midfielder has been acquired by the Houston Dynamo from Atletico Madrid on a Designated Player deal, according to ESPN sources.

Hector HerreraHerrera will join up with Houston on a free transfer when his contract with Atletico expires in the summer.

The move amounts to the second massive acquisition of general manager Pat Onstad‘s tenure. Earlier this year, thanks to the deep pockets of new owner Ted Segal, Onstad signed Libertad forward Sebastian Ferreira.

In Herrera, Houston has now acquired a well-known El Tri player in a city with deep ties to Mexico, one that should generate a significant uptick in interest for the club.

Herrera’s on-field contribution should be immense as well, providing experience and composure on the ball to a young Houston side.

Herrera broke into the professional ranks in 2010 with Liga MX side Pachuca and went on to make 55 league and cup appearances, scoring two goals. He was soon Europe-bound, signing with Portuguese giants Porto in 2013 for a fee of almost $9 million. He went on to become a mainstay for the Dragons, making 245 league and cup appearances, scoring 35 goals while helping Porto to the 2017-18 Primeira Liga title.

After six seasons with Porto, Herrera moved to LaLiga with Atletico, where he made 71 league and cup appearances, scoring one goal. His contributions helped Atleti claim the 2020-21 LaLiga crown.

At international level, Herrera has been a constant presence for Mexico, making 96 appearances and scoring 10 goals. He was part of the side that won an Olympic gold medal at the 2012 games in London, and took part in the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

TUDN was the first to report that a deal between the Dynamo and Herrera and been agreed.

Erik Lamela Wins FIFA’s Puskas Award

Erik Lamela is celebrating his award-winning rabona

The 29-year-old Argentine professional footballer, who plays as an attacking midfielder or winger for La Liga club Sevilla and the Argentina national team, has won this year’s Puskas Award.

Erik Lamela

Lamela earned the award for his “rabona” for Tottenham Hotspur against Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski equaled Cristiano Ronaldo‘s FIFA The Best record when he won the award for a second time on Monday.

The Bayern Munich forward retained his FIFA The Best award following an incredible campaign in which he scored a Bundesliga record 41 goals, fighting off competition from Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel claimed the Manager of the Year award following success in the Champions League in 2021.

Chelsea and Senegal‘s Edouard Mendy won the Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Denmark team and staff won the Fair Play award following their reaction to Christian Eriksen‘s cardiac arrest at Euro 2020. Denmark and Finland fans also received the Best Fan award for their spontaneous unified chanting in support of Eriksen after he was taken off the pitch.

The award was first handed out in its present guise in 2016, after FIFA ended their five-year partnership with the Ballon d’Or. Ronaldo, who was given a special award for breaking the international men’s goal scoring record in 2021, won back-to-back awards in the first two years.

Meanwhile, Messi and part-Brazilian player Jorginho were named to the FIFA FIFPro Men’s World XI team.

FIFA FIFPro Men’s World XI
Gianluigi Donnarumma – Paris Saint-Germain, Italy
David Alaba – Real Madrid, Austria
Ruben Dias – Manchester City, Portugal
Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus, Italy
Jorginho – Chelsea, Italy
N’Golo Kante – Chelsea, France
Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City, Belgium
Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United, Portugal
Erling Haaland – Borussia Dortmund, Norway
Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich, Poland
Lionel Messi – Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina

Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas won the women’s award.

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

Radamel Falcao Joins Rayo Vallecano

Radamel Falcao has found his Rayo of light…

The 35-year-old Colombian professional footballer has joined Spain’s Rayo Vallecano on a free transfer after his contract with Galatasaray was terminated.

Falcao joined Gala in 2019 and spent two seasons in Turkey but is best known for his spells with PortoAtletico Madrid and Monaco. He also played for Manchester United and Chelsea on loan.

He is Colombia’s all-time top scorer with 35 goals in 91 appearances and has won the Europa League with Porto and Atletico, as well as winning Ligue 1 with Monaco.

Rayo, who face Levante in LaLiga play on September 10, have lost two and won one of their opening three league games of the season.