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.

D.C. United’s Paul Arriola On Loan to Swansea City

Paul Arriola is heading across the pond

The 25-year-old Mexican American soccer player and D.C. United midfielder has joined U.S. teammate Jordan Morris on loan at Wales’ Swansea City, the Major League Soccer club has announced.

Paul Arriola

Arriola will spend the remainder of the 2020-21 season with the Championship club, who are currently second in the table as they seek a return to the Premier League next season.

There’s no option to buy in Arriola’s loan to Swansea.

“We have spoken with Paul and we understand how exciting this step is for him in his professional career,” Dave Kasper, D.C. United General Manager and VP of Soccer Operations, said. “We wish Paul the best of luck and look forward to him rejoining our club.”

The U.S. international, who scored two goals in the Americans’ 7-0 friendly win against Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday night, moved from Liga MX club Tijuana to D.C. on Aug. 9, 2017 and has scored 14 goals and added 13 assists in 72 appearances during his stint in MLS.

Arriola’s U.S. teammate and Seattle Sounders forward Morris, who left national team camp in January to complete his move to the Swans, made his first appearance for his new team as a substitute in a 3-1 win over Rotherham.

He was loaned to Swansea on January 22 for the second half of the English season, and the Swans have an option to purchase his rights.

Morris has 41 goals 23 assists in 121 appearances for the Sounders since signing with the club in 2016. He has 10 goals in 39 appearances for the U.S.

Arriola and Morris will try to help Swansea City back to the Premier League. The team is in second place in the English Championship with 50 points, having last played in England’s top flight in the 2017-18 season.

Federico Higuain Re-Signs with Inter Miami CF 

Federico Higuain is still bienvenido en Miami

Inter Miami CF has re-signed the 36-year-old Argentine soccer player, a veteran midfielder, to a new contract for 2021.

Federico Higuain

Higuain appeared as a substitute in four matches with Miami last season after being traded from D.C. United on October 10, 2020 for $50,000 in 2021 general allocation money.

He has 57 goals and 63 assists in 207 career games (184 starts) in the Major League Soccer (MLS) with the Columbus Crew (2012-19), D.C. United and Miami. He was named the MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2012.

“It’s great to have Federico back,” Miami chief soccer officer and sporting director Chris Henderson said in a statement. “He is a valuable asset to the team not only because of what he can contribute to on the field, but also for what he brings to the locker room, which is experience, a positive attitude and professionalism to the group.”

Higuain’s younger brother, Gonzalo, is also on the Miami roster. The 33-year-old forward had one goal and two assists in nine games last season.

Austin FC Selects Daniel Pereira in the MLS SuperDraft as History-Making No. 1 Pick

Daniel Pereira is making history…

Austin FC selected the Virginia Tech midfielder as the No. 1 pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft, making him the first-ever No. 1 pick from Venezuela.

Daniel Pereira

Pereira was born and raised in the Venezulan capital of Caracas. But with his family facing political persecution and the entire country facing food shortages, human rights violations and an economic crisis, they decided to move to the U.S. in search of a better life.

Pereira was a teenager at the time and didn’t know a single word of English.

“We hit the reset button and started over completely. I didn’t really like the idea much at the start because I was leaving my friends behind and the team that I was playing for in Venezuela,” he said.

Daniel Pereira

Pereira is projected as a box-to-box midfielder who should provide some depth in midfield alongside Alex Ring. Pereira also signed a Generation Adidas contract with MLS, meaning his salary won’t count against Austin’s salary cap.

The pick was something of a surprise given that most mock drafts had Clemson midfielder Philip Mayaka going No. 1, but Pereira was the choice for Austin.

“I wasn’t really expecting to be No. 1 because of all the mock drafts,” Pereira said afterward. “It’s an honor. I’m really happy. My family is crying. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.”

Pereira added that, in his conversations with the Austin staff before draft day, he told them he hopes to play in his preferred central midfield role.

“I expect to play my position,” he said. “I’m a No. 8. I like to defend, and I like to attack. Hopefully that’s where they see me.”

TOP 10 DRAFT PICKS (view full results here):

  1. Austin FC, Daniel Pereira, MF, Virginia Tech
  2. FC Cincinnati, Calvin Harris, FW, Wake Forest
  3. Colorado Rapids, Philip Mayaka, MF, Clemson
  4. D.C. United, Kimarni Smith, FW, Clemson
  5. D.C. United, Michael DeShields, DF, Wake Forest
  6. Houston Dynamo FC, Ethan Bartlow, DF, Washington
  7. Real Salt Lake, Bret Halsey, DF, Virginia
  8. Orlando City SC, Derek Dodson, FW, Georgetown
  9. Vancouver Whitecaps, David Egbo, FW, Akron
  10. Inter Miami CF, Josh Penn, FW, Indy Eleven/Indiana

Felipe Mora Signs New Contract with Portland Timbers 

Felipe Mora is headed to the Pacific Northwest

The Portland Timbers have completed the transfer of the 27-year-old Chilean soccer star from the Liga MX club Pumas UNAM and signed him to a new contract.

Felipe Mora

Originally acquired by the Timbers on a one-year loan on January 31, 2020, Mora tallied seven goals and two assists in 19 matches (13 starts) during the 2020 Major League Soccer (MLS) regular season.

“We are thrilled to bring back Felipe long term as he is an accomplished international striker in the prime of his career,” Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese said in a release. “Felipe acclimated seamlessly into the group last year, and we can’t wait for him to continue being a key contributor for the Timbers.”

Mora’s new contract uses targeted allocation money. Specific terms were not disclosed.

Mora tallied 19 goals in 65 appearances (50 starts) at Pumas UNAM from 2018-20. That followed stints with Liga MX club Cruz Azul (2017-18) and with Universidad de Chile (2016-17) in the Chilean Primera Division.

He has also competed with the Chile national team, most recently in a World Cup qualifier against Venezuela on November 17.

Austin FC Selects Joe Corona in the 2020 Expansion Draft

Joe Corona is heading to the Lone Star State…

MLS expansion side Austin FC made five selections in the 2020 Expansion Draft, headlined by the 30-year-old Mexican American soccer player and former LA Galaxy midfielder.

Joe Corona

The acquisitions bring the total number of players on Austin’s roster to 11 ahead of its debut season in 2021.

Austin sporting director Claudio Reyna selected San Jose Earthquakes forward Danny Hoesen with the team’s first selection. In four seasons with San Jose, Hoesen scored 23 goals and added 12 assists in 104 league and playoff appearances, but saw the field just eight times in 2020 after dealing with oblique and adductor issues that eventually required surgery. Combined with the fact that he is out of contract and earned $500,000 in 2019 (the last year that salary data from the MLS Players Association was available), his selection was something of a surprise. But Reyna said that when Hoesen became available he jumped to the top of Austin’s list.

“I’m a big believer in guys, when they get a clean start, come to a new club, work under a new coach, that they get back to their levels,” Reyna said about Hoesen. “A couple years ago he scored many goals and we feel that he’s got that ability to again.”

Austin chose New York Red Bulls midfielder Jared Stroud with its second selection. Stroud, 24, made 20 appearances for the Red Bulls in 2020, 11 of them starts and recorded two assists. He had spent two seasons with New York Red Bulls II in the USL Championship.

With its third pick, Austin selected Nashville goalkeeper Brady Scott. A U.S. youth international, Scott spent three years with German side FC Koln, spending most of his time playing in the 3. Liga with the club’s reserve team. He was acquired by Nashville last August, and then immediately loaned out to Sacramento Republic in the USL Championship where he made two appearances.

Corona was chosen with the fourth pick, and is expected to provide Austin with a steady presence in the center of midfield. Corona has experience abroad having played in Mexico for Club Tijuana, Club America, Veracruz and Dorados. He spent the last two seasons with the Galaxy making 49 league and cup appearances, scoring two goals. Corona has also made 23 appearances with the U.S. national team, scoring three goals.

“He’s a calm player, an experienced player,” said Austin manager Josh Wolff about Corona. “He’ll be good in the buildup, he’s comfortable on the ball, and I think he’s a facilitator who will be able to circulate the ball side to side.”

Austin chose Orlando City defender Kamal Miller with its fifth selection, but immediately traded him to the Montreal Impact in exchange for $225,000 in General Allocation Money and the 11th overall pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.