Carlos Ferreira ThisClose to Deal with Houston Dynamo

Things are turning out dynamo-ite for Carlos Ferreira

The Houston Dynamo are closing in on a deal for the 22-year-old Paraguayan football player, a Paraguay youth international and Libertad player, according to ESPN.

Carlos FerreiraESPN sources claim Ferreira is expected to fly to Houston in the next few days to finalize the deal, with the agreed transfer fee around $6 million.

If the deal is completed, Ferreira will join a Houston side in need of attacking help, with Dynamo’s 36 goals in 2021 tied for the second-worst mark in Major League Soccer.

Ferreira began his professional career in his native Paraguay with Olimpia in 2016. He subsequently was loaned to Paraguayan second tier side Independiente FBC, where he scored 13 goals in 19 matches in 2018.

Later that year he moved to Liga MX side Morelia — now Mazatlan — where he went on to score 16 goals in 52 league and cup appearances.

In 2020, Ferreira was loaned to Libertad in his home country, where he has scored 34 goals in 78 league and cup appearances.

At international level, Ferreira has represented Paraguay at under-17, under-20 and under-23 level, but has yet to make an appearance with the senior team.

FC Dallas Star Ricardo Pepi Completes $20 Million Move to FC Augsburg

It’s official… Ricardo Pepi is headed to Alemania

The 18-year-old Mexican American professional soccer player, a forward for FC Dallas and the United States international team, has completed a move to Bundesliga side FC Augsburg.

Ricardo Pepi ESPN previously reported that Pepi was set to move to Augsburg in a deal worth $20 million plus add-ons, the most for a homegrown player in Major League Soccer (MLS) history.

Sources said Dallas will also receive a 10% sell-on percentage for any future moves.

“Moving to Europe after the conclusion of the MLS season was my dream,” Pepi said in a statement Monday. “I believe FC Augsburg and the Bundesliga will prove the perfect settings for me to gain match practice at the top level as a youngster.

“The efforts the FCA club officials put in to sign me were really impressive. As a result, I felt right away that FCA was the right club for me. I can’t wait to meet my new teammates and I want to integrate into the team as quickly as possible. I can hardly wait to get going!”

Pepi enjoyed a remarkable year in 2021 that resulted in his first call-up to the U.S. national team in September. He recorded a goal and two assists in his international debut against Honduras and now has three goals in seven appearances for his country.

Pepi scored 13 goals in 31 league appearances this season for Dallas.

FC Augsburg are embroiled in a relegation battle in Germany’s top flight, sitting in 15th place on 18 points after 17 games.

“We are delighted that Ricardo has decided to join Augsburg despite interest from a number of top clubs around the world,” Augsburg executive Stefan Reuter said.

“We were able to provide him with a clear sporting plan for his future development that convinced him to come here. We are certain that he will continue to improve here in Augsburg and that we’ll have a lot of fun together over the coming years.”

FC Dallas Reportedly Transferring Ricardo Pepi to Augsburg for Club-Record Fee

Ricardo Pepi is thisclose to a lucrative deal to play in Germany…

The 18-year-old Mexican American professional soccer player, an FC Dallas and United States international forward, is close to finalizing a deal with Bundesliga side FC Augsburg, according to ESPN.

Ricardo Pepi

The sources said that if the deal is completed, the transfer fee would be in the neighborhood of $20 million plus add-ons, with a 10% sell-on percentage going to Dallas in any future moves.

The base transfer fee would be the highest for a homegrown player in Major League Soccer history.

Alphonso Davies‘ move from the Vancouver Whitecaps to Bayern Munich was in excess of that number, but that included incentives.

Pepi’s arrival in Augsburg would see him bolster an attack in desperate need of goals. Augsburg is in 15th place, just above the relegation zone. Its haul of 17 goals in 17 games is tied for the fourth-worst mark in the Bundesliga as it headed into the winter break.

Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg were thought to be the frontrunners to land Pepi, but now it appears that Augsburg have won the race to sign the American.

Pepi has seen his reputation and form skyrocket in the last 12 months. He scored 13 goals in 31 league appearances this season for Dallas. That resulted in a call-up to the U.S. men’s team where he scored three goals — all in World Cup qualifiers — in seven appearances.

All told, Pepi has scored 16 goals in 57 league and playoff appearances for Dallas.

Maximiliano Urruti Signs with Austin FC

Maximiliano Urruti is heading to Austin…

The 30-year-old Argentine professional footballer has signed with Austin FC.

Maximiliano Urruti “Maxi is a winner with a proven history of scoring goals and creating chances,” sporting director Claudio Reyna said in a club statement. “He’ll help us become more dynamic in the attacking third and we look forward to welcoming him and his family to Austin.”

Urruti was traded to the Houston Dynamo from the Montreal Impact in January 2021, where he ended the season with 7 goals and 4 assists in 30 appearances as the Dynamo finished bottom of the Western Conference, failing to qualify for the playoffs.

“I’m very excited for these new beginnings with Austin FC,” said Urruti. “I’m happy to wear these colors and can’t wait to celebrate with all the fans at Q2 Stadium. Vamos Verde y Negro!”

A former FC Dallas player from 2016-18, Urruti is set to become the first player to make appearances for all three Texas clubs in Major League Soccer.

He has also played for Newell’s Old Boys, Toronto FC and Portland Timbers.

Paulo Nagamura to Serve as Houston Dynamo’s Next Team Manager

Paulo Nagamura is a dynamo

The Houston Dynamo has agreed to terms with the 38-year-old Brazilian former professional footballer and coach to be the team’s next manager, according to ESPN.

Paulo Nagamura

Glenn Davis, the Dynamo’s play-by-play announcer and host of Soccer Matters on ESPN Houston, was the first to report the selection of Nagamura.

Nagamura replaces Tab Ramos, whose contract wasn’t renewed following the 2021 season. The search was conducted by new Dynamo GM Pat Onstad.

Nagamura was most recently manager of Sporting Kansas City‘s reserve side.

In four seasons as Sporting Kansas City II manager, Nagamura recorded a record of 30-61-25, as the organization focused on youth development. He also served as an assistant with the team in 2017. During his time with the team, the Brazilian coached 15 of the organization’s homegrown players, as well as 23 academy products. Included in this group is current Venezia and United States international midfielder Gianluca Busio.

As a player, Nagamura came up through the youth systems of Sao Paulo and Arsenal before signing with the LA Galaxy in 2005, where he won an MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup double.

He later went on to play for Toronto FC, Chivas USA, and Liga MX side Tigres, before finishing his career with SKC.

With SKC, Nagamura won two more U.S. Open Cup titles as well as another MLS Cup crown in 2013. Overall, he made over 270 appearances, scoring 15 goals.

Brazil’s Palmeiras Offers Nearly $12.5 Million for NYCFC Star Valentin “Taty” Castellanos

Could Valentin “Taty” Castellanos play in Brazil soon?

Brazilian Serie A side Palmeiras has made an offer of around $12.5 million for the 23-year-old Argentine professional footballer and New York City FC striker, according to ESPN sources.

Valentin "Taty" CastellanosThe offer was made in the days following the NYCFC‘s MLS Cup final victory over the Portland Timbers, a match in which Castellanos scored in regulation time as well as in the penalty shootout, but the sources have added that the amount doesn’t yet meet the Blues’ valuation for the player — NYCFC are seeking in excess of $15m.

In 35 league and playoff appearances this season, Castellanos scored 22 goals and added eight assists while winning the Golden Boot. In parts of four seasons with NYCFC, he scored 40 goals with 18 assists in 99 league and playoff appearances.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Castellanos revealed that he dreams of playing in Argentina, but made it clear that he’s focused on a move to Europe, where he said he already has offers.

“Obviously, it’s a desire I have, because I’ve never played in Argentina,” he said via a translation. “But I don’t think the time is right now. I want to aim for European football. It’s reality, it’s my dream, I always wanted to [play] there. That’s my focus. Today I have many offers from Europe.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola recently praised Castellanos and said that the top scorer will soon be playing in Europe. Like Man City, New York City FC is part of the City Football Group.

This isn’t the first time that Palmeiras has pursued the Argentine. Last May, Palmeiras made an offer of $4m for 70% of the economic rights of the player. However, the American club, which at first had liked the proposal, withdrew from negotiations. NYCFC subsequently signed Castellanos to a new five-year contract through 2025. According to data from the MLS Players Association, Castellanos’ guaranteed compensation in 2021 was $776,000.

A native of Mendoza, Argentina, Castellanos originally joined NYCFC on loan in 2018 from Uruguayan side Montevideo City Torque, another City Football Group club. The Blues activated an option to purchase Castellanos after a successful loan stint, which included a goal in his debut against Vancouver Whitecaps.

U.S. Soccer Gives Young Player Award to FC Dallas’ Ricardo Pepi

Ricardo Pepi is celebrating a special honor…

The 18-year-old Mexican American professional soccer player, a striker for Major League Soccer club FC Dallas, has received U.S. Soccer’s young player award.

Ricardo PepiPepi had a dynamic debut with the United States national team against Honduras in September, posting a goal and two assists in a 4-1 victory.

He then scored two goals against Jamaica in October, cementing his status as one of the most promising young talents playing in the U.S. system.

The FC Dallas forward and El Paso native chose to represent the U.S. over his parents’ native Mexico in August, shortly after he was selected for his first MLS All-Star Game.

Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic was named the governing body’s male player of the year, while U.S. Soccer named Washington Spirit‘s Trinity Rodman as young female player of the year and Portland Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan took the senior award.

Jonathan dos Santos Joins Liga MX Side Club America

Jonathan dos Santos is headed back to his home country…

The 31-year-old Mexican professional footballer and former LA Galaxy captain has joined Club America, the Liga MX side announced on Thursday.

Jonathan dos Santos

The deal would be for two years, according to ESPN reports, with the Mexico City side announcing on Thursday that the El Tri star had officially joined the team.

The Liga MX Clausura season kicks off on January 7. Las Aguilas finished atop the regular season table of the recently completed Apetura campaign but were ousted in the playoffs, with Atlas winning the title.

Dos Santos was a free agent after the Galaxy stated in late November that it had parted ways with the former designated player.

“I feel I’m in pretty good shape. I am 31 years old. People say that I am coming to retire here; that’s not true. I still have a lot to give in my career and to this club. I am hungry. I want to win titles with América and make the fans happy,” Dos Santos said.

During his time with the Galaxy that started in 2017, Dos Santos made 103 appearances for the club and was selected as an MLS All-Star in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. In his last two years, injuries took a toll on regular appearances.

The move to Liga MX is a first for Dos Santos, who has previously also played in LaLiga for Barcelona and Villarreal. Jonathan’s older brother Giovani, currently a free agent, previously played for Club America before being dropped over the summer.

“Since I was a kid, I dreamed that one day I would play in America. My father played here, Gio too, the Dos Santos’ already made history in this club,” Dos Santos said. “My dad always told us, you have to play for America, you have to fulfill that dream. It’s the best team in Mexico. I left the country 20 years ago, so having the opportunity to return and play for the best team is a big honor for me.”

Dos Santos’ move to Club America comes two days after fellow El Tri teammate Sebastian Cordova left Las Aguilas for Tigres UANL.

Atlanta United Trade Franco Escobar to Los Angeles FC (LAFC)

Franco Escobar is headed west…

The 26-year-old Argentine professional footballer has been traded by Atlanta United to Los Angeles FC (LAFC) in exchange for $250,000 in General Allocation Money for the 2022 Major League Soccer (MLS) season, with the possibility of another $350,000 in future revenue, plus a percentage of any future transfer fee should LAFC sell the defender to a team outside the league.

Franco Escobar

Escobar spent the last season on loan with Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina. The MLS half-day trade window opened Sunday. Teams can resume trading after Tuesday’s expansion draft.

Escobar joined Atlanta United before the 2018 season after being procured from Newell’s for less than $600,000. He made 63 appearances in regular season games and eight in the playoffs for the Five Stripes.

He scored five goals, including three in the playoffs, with six assists. He started and helped the club win the MLS Cup in 2018, scoring the second goal in the 2-0 win, and Campeones Cup and came on as a late sub in the U.S. Open Cup in 2019.

Escobar was versatile, playing as a centerback, right wingback or fullback for managers Gerardo Martino, Frank de Boer and Stephen Glass. Escobar also had trouble controlling his energy, which was frequently directed at referees. He received 26 yellow cards and one red card. Because of suspensions and injuries, he never appeared in more than 25 games in a season.

Trading Escobar on Sunday means the club will not have to protect him with one of its 12 available slots in the expansion draft. It may also be considered a good piece of business because had they not protected Escobar, and Charlotte selected him, Atlanta United would have received just $50,000 in General Allocation Money.

The trade also frees a spot on Atlanta United’s senior roster. Escobar didn’t occupy an International slot. He had a guaranteed salary of $450,000 last season, according to the MLSPA salary guide. With the trade, Atlanta United has 27 players on a 30-man roster.

Sebastian Blanco “Ready” to Play in Saturday’s MLS Cup Final Against New York City FC

Sebastian Blanco is ready to play…

The 33-year-old Argentine footballer, who suffered a reported hamstring injury in the MLS conference semifinal win over the Colorado Rapids on Thanksgiving Day that threatened to keep him out of the remainder of the MLS Cup playoffs, says he’s “ready” to take part in Saturday’s MLS Cup final against New York City FC.

Sebastian BlancoBlanco was an unused substitute in the Portland Timbers‘ Western Conference final win over Real Salt Lake five days ago.

Dating back to August 29, Blanco has appeared in 15 of Portland’s 17 contests. Of those 15 games, the Timbers won 12 of them, with the 33-year-old attacker registering eight goals and five assists in that span.

His importance to Giovanni Savarese’s side can’t be understated, so it will come as a great relief to the Rose City that its No. 10 took part in full training on Thursday.

“I am ready. I’m OK, I feel good,” Blanco told members of the media during a news conference on Thursday. “I prepared myself for this game. I trained with my team today completely. Now we still need to have a conversation with [Savarese] … He will decide, but everything’s good.”

For the two months before his injury in Colorado, Blanco’s form gave Portland hope of a deep playoff run. And those expectations were heightened once the playoffs began, when he marked a dominating performance in a Round 1 win over Minnesota United with a brace.

But the Timbers had to scrap for their win over the Rapids, needing a 90th-minute winner from center-back Larrys Mabiala to advance out of the conference semifinals. An early goal from Felipe Mora ensured they were never too uncomfortable last Saturday against RSL, allowing Blanco to remain on the bench to continue rehabilitation toward a recovery that he refers to as nearly miraculous.

“After Colorado I was almost out, so we talk about the almost miracle to arrive to this game,” he said. “So to be part of this game is important to me. No matter what happens on Saturday, if I can play or not, it’s important to be a part and we need to support our team however I need to support.”

Despite the twice-capped Argentina international’s importance to Portland’s run to MLS Cup, NYCFC manager Ronny Deila insisted that his team is focused on containing all 11 of their opponents on the field come Saturday, not just Blanco.

“We’ve been talking a lot … here in MLS about specific players, and Blanco is … really good, of course, but they have top players plus a couple on the bench as well who can cause any team problems,” Deila said. “So it’s not about one guy, it’s about stopping them as a team.”