Gonzalo Pineda Named Head Coach of Atlanta United

Gonzalo Pineda is the head of the class…

The 38-year-old Mexican former soccer player, who has played for Mexico’s International team, has been appointed as the new  head coach, of Atlanta United.

Gonzalo Pineda

Pineda had agreed to personal terms with the Major League Soccer club and signed a contract that would run through the 2024 season.

“This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m really excited to become Atlanta United’s head coach,” Pineda said in a press release. “I want to thank Arthur Blank, Steve Cannon, as well as Darren and Carlos for entrusting me in this position.

“I’m arriving to a club that already has a system in place to help the players and coaching staff deliver good results for the supporters. I’m looking forward to arriving in Atlanta and meeting with everyone at the club.”

Pineda will join the team in Atlanta next week while assistant coach Rob Valentino will be in charge of the club’s next two matches.

Pineda has long been touted as manager-in-waiting within MLS, and was reportedly a finalist for the D.C. United job that eventually went to Hernan Losada.

His first managerial stint will see him take over one of the biggest jobs in MLS, with Atlanta winning three trophies in its first three years of operation, including an MLS Cup triumph in 2018.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Gonzalo as the head coach of Atlanta United,” club president Darren Eales said.”Building off an illustrious international playing career, Gonzalo joined Seattle‘s coaching staff and played an integral role in the club’s success over the last few years.

“He has a thorough understanding of MLS and has proven to be one of the top assistants in the league. He is a great fit for our club from a cultural and technical perspective, and we’re excited to have a long-term commitment in place.”

During his playing career, Pineda represented some of Mexico’s biggest clubs, including Pumas, Guadalajara and Cruz Azul on loan. He was also loaned out to San Luis, Puebla and Queretaro. He spent the last two years of his career in Seattle, helping the side to U.S. Open Cup and Supporters Shield double in 2014.

At international level, Pineda made 44 appearances for Mexico, scoring one goal. He was also selected to El Tri‘s 23-man roster for the 2006 World Cup.

Ricardo Pepi Agrees to Five-Year Contract Extension with FC Dallas

Ricardo Pepi isn’t going anywhere…

FC Dallas has locked up the emerging 18-year-old star forward with a five-year contract extension.

Ricardo Pepi

Pepi, who has been linked with a move to Serie A‘s Bologna, has eight goals in 14 appearances (nine starts) this season.

“I’m very happy to give my everything to FC Dallas,” Pepi said in a statement. “I want to thank the club for having that trust in me. It’s a big step in my career, personally and for my family.”

Pepi scored three goals in a 4-0 win over the LA Galaxy on Saturday to become the youngest player in MLS history (18 years, 196 days) to score a hat trick.

The El Paso native is in his third season with FC Dallas. He has 10 goals and one assists in 38 MLS appearances (13 starts).

Ricardo Pepi Becomes Youngest Player in MLS History to Score Hat Trick

Hat’s off to Ricardo Pepi

The 18-year-old Latino soccer player has become the youngest player in Major League Soccer history to score a hat trick, as Pepi led FC Dallas to a 5-0 win over the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening.

Ricardo Pepi

Pepi, who is 18 years, 197 days of age, increased his season goal total to a team-high eight with his first career hat trick. The El Paso, Texas, native is in his third season with the team.

FC Dallas emphatically snapped a three-match losing streak, all of which came on the road. FCD is a different team at home — it is now unbeaten in 17 straight home matches (with nine wins and eight draws), the longest active regular-season home unbeaten run in MLS.

Pepi put FC Dallas on the board in the 27th minute when he finished off a pass from Andres Ricaurte that bounced off Galaxy defender Daniel Steres. Pepi’s kick from the center of the box was placed in the right corner past Los Angeles goalkeeper Jonathan Bond.

Pepi added his second goal in the 44th minute, making short work of a corner kick from Jesus Ferreira that Pepi headed off the back LA defender Derrick Williams. The rebound landed at Pepi’s feet at a severe angle to the goal, but the teen was up to the task.

The third goal came in the 50th minute after FCD midfielder Szabolcs Schon carried the ball deep into the box and fought off two Los Angeles defenders before passing to Pepi in front of the goal. Pepi moved the ball to his right foot and sent a low shot into the left corner of the net to all but end the Galaxy’s chances.

Jimmy Maurer made three saves to earn his second shutout of the season and the 13th of his six-year MLS career.

Jader Obrian added FCD’s fourth goal in 88th minute to cap the scoring.

The Galaxy are 0-2-1 over their past three matches, their longest stretch of the season without a victory.

It was Los Angeles’ fifth consecutive match without injured leading scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez as well as midfielders Jonathan dos Santos and Efrain Alvarez, both of whom are with the Mexican team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Talles Magno Signs with New York City FC

Talles Magno is heading to the Big Apple

Major League Soccer club New York City FC has signed the 18-year-old promising Brazilian footballer from Vasco da Gama.

Talles Magno

NYCFC said Wednesday that Magno, a winger, signed a contract through the 2026 season.

Magno helped Brazil win the Under-17 World Cup in 2019 and has already played 61 professional matches for Rio De Janeiro-based Vasco da Gama after making his debut as a 16-year-old.

“He is a dynamic attacker who is quick, direct and capable of playing as a winger or forward,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said.

“He is someone we believe will excite our fans, but as with any new player, particularly someone his age, we will be patient as he adapts and settles into his new environment on and off the pitch.”

Magno’s signature gives NYCFC manager Ronny Deila another option in attack. The team has been without Heber, who is recovering from ACL surgery, while offseason signing Thiago Andrade remains in Brazil waiting on his work visa.

The club also recently re-signed last season’s leading goal scorer Valentin Castellanos to a five-year contract extention earlier this month amid interest from Palmerias.

Major League Soccer’s Highest-Paid Player: LAFC’s Carlos Vela

Carlos Vela has the biggest wallet in Major League Soccer

The 32-year-old Mexican professional footballer, who captains MLS club Los Angeles FC (LAFC), is the league’s highest-paid player with a base guaranteed compensation of $6.3 million, according to salary data published by the MLS Players Association.

Carlos Vela 

Vela edged out Mexican compatriot and cross-town rival Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez of the LA Galaxy for the top spot. While Hernandez had a base salary of $6m compared to Vela’s $4.5m, the LAFC striker won out based on greater guaranteed bonuses, marketing bonuses and agent’s fees which are included in the calculations and annualized over the terms of a player’s contract, including option years.

Inter Miami CF‘s Gonzalo Higuain ($5.79m), Toronto FC‘s Alejandro Pozuelo ($4.69m), Atlanta United FC‘s Josef Martinez ($3.89m) and Toronto’s Jozy Altidore ($3.6m) rounded out the top six earners.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the salary report was the first to take place since September of 2019, with the data current as of the April 15 roster compliance date. The report is also the first since the two sides agreed on a series of Collective Bargaining Agreements with the latest revision taking place in February of this year.

The MLSPA stated that the average base salary for senior roster non-Designated Players has doubled over the last five years, and is currently $398,725. This figure doesn’t include players making the senior minimum ($81,375) or reserve minimum ($63,547) salaries.

The average guaranteed base compensation for the entire player pool is $423,232 up 2.72% from the September 2019 mark of $411,996. The median guaranteed base salary is $210,000. In a sign that the salaries of players at the bottom of the wage scale are improving, the league’s median guaranteed base compensation was $210,000, up 17% from the September 2019 mark of $179,498.

In terms of team payroll based on guaranteed base compensation, Inter Miami‘s is the highest at $17.8m followed by Toronto at $17m. The LA Galaxy ($16.8m), Atlanta United ($16.1m) and FC Cincinnati ($15.5m) completed the top five. The Vancouver Whitecaps had the lowest payroll at $8.7m followed by Austin FC ($9.1m), the Philadelphia Union ($9.3m), Houston Dynamo FC ($9.5m) and the Colorado Rapids ($10.1m).

Yeferson Soteldo Headed to Toronto FC

Yeferson Soteldo is headed to the Great White North

Santos FC, the Brazilian soccer powerhouse, has agreed to transfer the 23-year-old Venezuelan professional footballer and winger to Toronto FC, the Canadian side has revealed.

Yeferson Soteldo

Santos had previously announced the agreement with the Major League Soccer side on Saturday.

Soteldo becomes Toronto’s third Designated Player, joining defending MLS MVP Alejandro Pozuelo and United States forward Jozy Altidore.

Soteldo’s contract with Toronto runs through 2025.

“I am very excited to come to Toronto FC. It is one of the most important sports organizations in Canada and the United States,” said Soteldo. “It is an MLS Cup champion, has great players, and most importantly, they are always competing to win. They have amazing fans and facilities.”

Soteldo made 104 appearances for Santos, scoring 20 goals and adding 17 assists since joining the club in January 2019.

Soteldo adorned the historic No. 10 shirt, worn by Brazil legend Pele, during his time with O Peixe.

“We are very excited for Yeferson to join our club. He is a dynamic, exciting, fearless player who will immediately improve our already strong roster,” said Toronto FC president Bill Manning. “He checks the boxes of what we were looking for in a DP, an attacking player who adds a different dimension to our side, and I think our fans will be excited to see him in a TFC uniform.”

Soteldo also has one goal and three assists in 19 appearances with the Venezuela national team.

Before joining Santos, Soteldo played for Zamora in Venezuela’s top flight and with Huachipato in Chile’s Primera Division.

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.