Kevin Paredes Named to U.S. Men’s National Team for 2024 Paris Games

2024 Paris GamesKevin Paredes is headed to Paris to compete at his first-ever Olympic Games.

The 21-year-old Dominican American professional soccer player, who plays left wing-back or left winger for Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg and the United States national team, appears on the 18-player roster for the United States men’s Olympic team (USMNT), as revealed by manager Marko Mitrović.

Kevin ParedesParedes, the 2023 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year, is among the five forwards named to the USMNT for the 2024 Paris Games.

In August 2023, Paredes received his first call-up to the United States senior national team by head coach Gregg Berhalter, for two friendly matches against Uzbekistan and Oman. In all, he’s made three appearances.

The men’s Olympic soccer tournament is restricted to players under the age of 23, but it does allow for three “overage” players. Colorado Rapids midfielder Djordje MihailovicFC Cincinnati defender Miles Robinson and Nashville defender Walker Zimmerman will fill each of those spots. The remainder of the roster comprises players born on or after Jan. 1, 2001.

This summer’s tournament in Paris marks the first time that the U.S. men have qualified for the Olympics since 2008.

The roster is also bolstered by midfielders Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann, both of whom helped lead Venezia in its successful bid to gain promotion to Italy’s Serie A last season.

“Today is a special day for us. We announced our roster and we are excited to go to the Olympic Games,” Mitrović said. “We are going there after 16 years [of not qualifying] on the men’s side, but also we are very excited that we are going to be together with our women’s team after almost two decades.”

Because the Olympics don’t qualify as an official FIFA competition, club teams aren’t required to release players for the tournament.

“We all know that it was actually a really difficult process in the last eight to 10 months, first talking to the clubs and trying to get all the players released,” said Mitrović. “Yes, there was challenges, but however we’d end up [it was] with the roster that we really believe that can represent us in the best possible way. And I feel very, very good about team that is going to the Paris.”

That explains, in part, why the vast majority of players from the USMNT who just competed in the Copa América aren’t on the roster. Robinson is the lone exception.

Those limitations presented a challenge for Mitrović in terms of constructing the roster. But of those players that were named, 15 of the 18 have made appearances for the full U.S. men’s national team, with Zimmerman, a veteran of the 2022 World Cup squad, leading the way with 42 appearances.

Ten of the players are currently contracted with Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs, with the remainder playing in Europe.

The last U.S. team to participate, in 2008, was led by former USMNT stalwarts Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. They narrowly missed out on qualifying for the medal round.

This time around, the U.S. men qualified by virtue of winning the 2022 Concacaf Under-20 Championship. From that team, only the Philadelphia Union‘s Jack McGlynn and FC Utrecht‘s Paxten Aaronson made the final Olympic squad.

All of the U.S.’s group stage games in the 16-team tournament will be played in Marseille, with the opener taking place on July 24 — two days before the opening ceremony — against the host country France.

That will be followed by matches against New Zealand on July 27, followed by the group stage finale against Guinea three days later.

If the U.S. qualifies for the medal round, it will play the quarterfinals in either Paris or Bordeaux.

The semifinals will be held in Marseille and Décines-Charpieu — just outside of Lyon. The final will be held in Paris on Aug. 9 with the bronze medal match being held in Nantes a day earlier.

The U.S. will prepare for the Games in Bordeaux at the home of Ligue 2 side Bordeaux from July 9-20 before moving to Marseille ahead of its opening match.

U.S. OLYMPIC MEN’S SOCCER TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; HOMETOWN)

Goalkeepers (2): Patrick Schulte (Columbus Crew; St. Charles, Missouri), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea/ENG; Addison, Ill.)

Defenders (6): Maximilian Dietz (Greuther Furth/GER; Frankfurt, Germany), Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union; Oldsmar, Florida), Miles Robinson (FC Cincinnati; Arlington, Massachusetts), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; Chatham, New Jersey), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United FC; Atlanta), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; Lawrenceville, Georgia)

Midfielders (5): Gianluca Busio (Venezia/ITA; Greensboro, North Carolina), Benjamin Cremaschi (Inter Miami CF; Key Biscayne, Florida), Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; New York), Djordje Mihailovic (Colorado Rapids; Jacksonville, Florida), Tanner Tessmann (Venezia/ITA; Birmingham, Alabama)

Forwards (5): Paxten Aaronson (FC Utrecht/NED; Medford, New Jersey), Taylor Booth (FC Utrecht/NED; Eden, Utah), Duncan McGuire (Orlando City SC; Omaha, Nebraska), Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg/GER; South Riding, Virginia), Griffin Yow (KVC Westerlo/BEL; Clifton, Virginia)

Alternates (4): Josh Atencio (Midfielder, Seattle Sounders FC; Bellevue, Washington), Jacob Davis (Defender, Sporting Kansas City; Rochester, Michigan), Johan Gomez (Forward, Eintracht Braunschweig/GER; Keller, Texas), John Pulskamp (Goalkeeper, Sporting Kansas City; Bakersfield, California)

Atlanta United Completes Transfer of Thiago Almada to Brazil’s Botafogo

Thiago Almada is heading to Brazil.

Atlanta United has completed its transfer of the 23-year-old Argentine professional footballer to Brazilian top-flight side Botafogo for a Major League Soccer-record fee, the club announced on Saturday.

Thiago AlmadaWhile the club confirmed the fee is a record, it didn’t attach a monetary figure. The Athletic reported Atlanta United stands to receive $21 million with up to $30m possible if conditions are met.

The 5-foot-7 midfielder/winger is expected to be on the move from Brazil over the winter. Botafogo is part of Eagle Football Holdings, which also operates Lyon of France’s Ligue 1 and Crystal Palace of England’s Premier League. It’s anticipated he will join Lyon in January.

Almada was transferred to Atlanta in February 2022 for a reported $16m by Velez Sarsfield of Argentina’s Primera Division. He went on to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina and will play for his nation in the 2024 Paris Games beginning later this month.

“We spent more than a year recruiting Thiago to join Atlanta United and during that process, we agreed that our club could provide a great platform to showcase his abilities and he would have the opportunity to continue his development until the time was right for him to move on to the next challenge,” Atlanta’s vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a news release.

Almada appeared in 77 regular-season matches (72 starts) with Atlanta United, recording 23 goals and 33 assists. He was honored as MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2022 and MLS Young Player the following year.

“His success is something we’re all proud of and a ton of credit is owed to our scouting department, in addition to everyone who has worked with him at the club,” Bocanegra said. “Our team has been prepared for this move and we will look to immediately reinvest in the team during the upcoming summer transfer window.”

Nacho Fernandez Set to Sign with Saudi Pro League’s Al Qadsiah

Nacho Fernandez is heading to the Middle East

The 34-year-old Spanish professional footballer and Real Madrid captain is set to sign with Al Qadsiah in the Saudi Pro League, per ESPN sources.

Nacho FernandezESPN reported earlier this month that defender Nacho — who is on international duty with Spain at Euro 2024 — was in advanced talks with another Saudi sideAl Ittihad.

However, the centre-back was then offered a deal by Al Qadsiah and, keen to have his future resolved as soon as possible, has decided to accept, a source said.

Nacho has won a joint-club record 26 trophies with Madrid, having joined the club at the age of 11 and come through the academy.

His contract at Madrid is due to expire at the end of this month and he had spent recent weeks considering his future.

Nacho captained Madrid to a Champions League and LaLiga double this season, having come close to leaving the club in the summer of 2023 before opting to stay.

The defender had a strong end to the season and was rewarded with a Spain call-up, starting their Euro 2024 opening win against Croatia last week, before missing their victory over Italy on Thursday with a minor injury.

Nacho is one of just five players — with Madrid’s Luka ModricToni Kroos, Dani Carvajal and Paco Gento — to have won six

He had previously been linked with a switch to Major League Soccer (MLS), but has now chosen to move to Saudi Arabia.

Al Qadsiah won promotion to the Saudi top flight last season and are coached by the former Real Madrid player Michel Gonzalez.

North Carolina FC’s Adrian Pelayo to Sign with Chivas

Adrian Pelayo is headed south of the border…

The 18-year-old Mexican soccer player and North Carolina FC defender is set to sign with Chivas, per ESPN sources.

Adrian Pelayo,The deal for Pelayo is almost complete, with paperwork to be finalized in the next few days.

Pelayo joins the Liga MX powerhouse from the USL Championship, playing with North Carolina FC since arriving as a free agent in 2023.

The defender previously formed part of the Portland Timbers academy, working with the MLS first team during training camp before the 2023 Major League Soccer season and the Timbers 2 MLS Next Pro team.

Internationally, Pelayo stands as a triple-nationality figure with eligibility to represent the United States, Argentina and Mexico. He has featured in both American and Mexican youth camps, but most recently represented El Tri in the Under-17 FIFA World Cup in November 2023.

The defender started the match against Germany, standing alongside Luis Navarrete, Javen Romero and Jose Suárez in the backline.

Pelayo will become the latest multiple-nationality figure to represent Chivas, following the footsteps of Mexican-American Cade Cowell.

The player will initially work with Chivas de Guadalajara‘s affiliate team C.D Tapatío in the Liga de Expansion before joining the senior team.

Lionel Messi Breaks MLS Records While Leading Inter Miami to Victory Over New York Red Bulls 

Lionel Messi continues breaking records…

The 36-year-old Argentine professional footballer scored a goal and had five assists as Inter Miami trounced the New York Red Bulls 6-2 on Saturday night, with the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner setting no fewer than three Major League Soccer records in the effort.

Lionel MessiThe six goal contributions, five assists and five assists in a half were all MLS records.

Messi, who earned the MLS Player of the Month Award for April, has now scored and assisted in six consecutive league matches.

Luis Suárez had three goals and Matias Rojas scored twice as Inter Miami got six unanswered goals to come back from a 1-0 deficit at halftime. Messi and Suárez now have a league-leading 10 goals each, helping keep Inter Miami (7-2-3, 24 points) atop the Eastern Conference.

The win extended Miami’s unbeaten string to six. The streak began after a 4-0 loss at New York on 20 April, in which Messi did not play because of an injury.

Miami began the rout with Rojas’ equalizer in the 48th minute. Messi centered a pass to Rojas whose left-footed shot landed under the crossbar.

Suárez then fed a charging Messi with a touch pass to beat New York goalkeeper Carlos Coronel with a shot from 15 yards.

Rojas made it 3-1 with his second goal in the 62nd minute on an assist from Messi.

Messi then contributed on former Barcelona teammate Suárez’s first goal in the 69th minute.

Suárez also struck in the 75th and 81st minutes before the Red Bulls (4-2-5, 17 points) closed the scoring on Emil Forsberg’s penalty kick in stoppage time.

New York controlled possession early and eventually capitalized on a Miami defensive breakdown that resulted on Dante Vanzeir’s goal in the 30th minute. José Carmona ran deep into the right wing of the large area and blasted a shot that bounced off the far post. An unmarked Vanzeir retrieved the deflection and converted from 15 yards.

Messi had his only scoring opportunity of the first half in the 24th minute, when Coronel stopped his shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba missed his third straight game because of a hamstring injury.

Both clubs will continue MLS play next Saturday. Inter Miami will visit CF Montreal while the Red Bulls will host New England.

Carlos Aviña Reportedly Joining San Diego FC as Sporting Director

Carlos Aviña is thisclose to joining Major League Soccer.

The MLS’ latest expansion team San Diego FC is set to name the Mexican soccer executive, currently serving as AS Monaco’s director of football, as the club’s first sporting director, per ESPN.

Carlos AviñaThe appointment of Aviña is imminent with an announcement expected soon, sources said.

The news of Aviña’s potential appointment was first reported by Fabrizio Romano.

San Diego was awarded an MLS expansion team in May 2023, with the team to begin play as the league’s 30th club in 2025.

San Diego FC CEO Tom Penn hinted at the arrival of key front office staff in February, telling ESPN: “We’ll hire a sporting director first, coach would be after that, I’d say likely sometime in Q2 [of 2024] you would hear more.”

The new face of San Diego will arrive with plenty of experience, working as Club America‘s head of sports intelligence from 2017 to 2019 before being promoted to director of football development and player recruitment. He then joined Club Brugge in 2021, serving as sporting director.

Aviña has been with Monaco for the past 10 months, helping the team to third in the Ligue 1 table with 49 points from 27 games and a 14W-6L-7D.

Now, with San Diego, he’ll be tasked with building the team from scratch.

The team has made just three player signings ahead of their MLS debut, bringing on U.S. youth national team goalkeeper Duran Ferree and international arrivals Jeppe Tverskov and Marcus Ingvartsen.

Despite the club’s location, Penn has said that he’s not solely focused on making the first major signing a high-profile Mexican star.

“We don’t have that specific kind of goal, no,” he told ESPN in October 2023. “We want to find foundational players that are gonna be with us for the formative years of a club. We’re gonna work with the key leaders in football operations that will be identified to make those key decisions.”

LA Galaxy Sign Gabriel Pec from Brazil’s Vasco da Gama Through 2028 MLS Season

Gabriel Pec has landed an out of this world deal…

The LA Galaxy have announced the signing of the 22-year-old Brazilian professional footballer, a winger, from Brazilian top-flight club Vasco da Gama.

Gabriel Pec Pec, a Brazil youth international player, is signed through the 2028 Major League Soccer (MLS) season and will occupy a designated player spot.

The reported $10 million transfer fee surpasses the previous Galaxy record of $9.4 million paid to Spain’s Sevilla in 2020 for striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernández.

“Gabriel has been a key contributor for one of the biggest clubs in Brazil’s Serie A and we are beyond excited that he is choosing to join the Galaxy as the next step in his burgeoning career,” Galaxy general manager Will Kuntz said in a release.

“In addition to his work rate and attacking prowess, he will also be bringing the experience of representing his native Brazil in the qualification tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympics when he joins our group. We are thrilled to announce Gabriel as the newest member of the LA Galaxy.”

Pec has spent his entire career at Vasco da Gama, tallying 26 goals and 14 assists in 178 matches since 2019.

Lionel Messi Named The Best FIFA Men’s Player for Third Time

Lionel Messi is the best… again.

The 36-year-old Argentine soccer superstar has won his third FIFA The Best men’s award, beating Manchester City‘s Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé for the honor.

Lionel Messi The timeline for the award was between December 19, 2022 — the day after Messi led Argentina to win the World Cup in Qatar — and August 20, 2023. 

Messi won the award mostly for his work at PSG and Inter Miami, having helped the French giants to another Ligue 1 title before moving to MLS in July and inspiring Interm Miami to their first-ever trophy, the Leagues Cup.

On the international level, Messi helped Argentina top CONMEBOL‘s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification table after six games.

Messi was not in attendance in London to collect the award.

The three nominees for the award were compiled, FIFA said, in collaboration with its “football stakeholders,” with short lists determined by two separate panels of former players and coaches. The winner of the award was then voted between journalists, fans, national team captains and managers.

The award is Messi’s third FIFA The Best title — his first coming in 2019 and second coming last year. He’s the only player to win the award three times.

He has also won a record eight Ballon d’Or awards.

Messi had a whirlwind 2023. In the first half, he won the French top flight for a second time but was booed by fans in his final games following a second successive round-of-16 exit from the Champions League.

The height of Messi’s season came after he joined Miami in July, when he swiftly inspired the franchise to win the Leagues Cup with a series of individual heroics, although the club missed out on the MLS Playoffs.

Here’s the full list of men’s awards:

The Best FIFA Men’s Player: Lionel Messi
Puskás Award: Guilherme Madruga (Botafogo-SP)
FIFA Fair Play AwardBrazil senior men’s players
FIFA Fan Award: Hugo Miguel Iñiguez
Men’s Coach of the Year: Pep Guardiola
Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year: Éderson (Man City) 

Men’s World XI:
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
Defence: John Stones (Man City), Kyle Walker (Man City), Rúben Dias (Man City)
Midfield: Bernardo Silva (Man City), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
Forwards: Erling Haaland (Man City), Kylian Mbappé (PSG), Lionel Messi (Inter Miami), Vinícius Júnior (Real Madrid)

Luis Suárez Becomes Latest High-Profile Talent to Join MLS Outfit Inter Miami

It’s official… Luis Suárez is reuniting with Lionel Messi in South Florida.

The 36-year-old Uruguayan striker has completed his move to Inter Miami, sealing a reunion with former Barcelona teammate Messi, the MLS club confirmed Friday.

Luis SuarezSuárez moves to Inter Miami as a free agent after departing Brazilian club Grêmio, where he played 53 matches in all competitions last season and scored 26 goals. 

His 17 league goals helped Grêmio finish second in the Brazilian Serie A and saw him win the Golden Ball as the best player in the division.

Suárez signed a one-year contract with Inter Miami, taking him through the end of the 2024 season.

“We promised our fans we would pursue the world’s best players to build a squad that can compete at the highest echelons in the Americas,” managing owner Jorge Mas said in the statement put out by the club.

“Coming off an award-winning season in Brazil, Luis will be a key addition to our roster. We will continue to be ambitious and always strive to pursue the freedom to dream.”

The move to Inter Miami, which sees Suárez cut short the two-year deal he signed with Grêmio, reunites him with former Barcelona teammates MessiJordi Alba and Sergio Busquets. The quartet spent six seasons together at Camp Nou between 2014 and 2020, winning four LaLiga titles and one Champions League.

“I’m very happy and excited to take on this new challenge with Inter Miami,” Suárez said in the statement. “I can’t wait to get started, and I’m ready to work to make the dream of winning more titles with this great Club a reality. I’m optimistic about what we can achieve together with our shared ambition.

“I will give my all to bring joy to these great fans I’ve heard so much about while I wear Inter Miami colors, and look forward to reuniting with great friends and players. I’m also eager to meet my new teammates and coaches.”

Fernando Gago Named New Head Coach of Liga MX’s Chivas

Fernando Gago is headed to Liga MX

The Mexican soccer league’s Chivas have hired the 27-year-old Argentine football manager and former player as their new head coach.

Fernando Gago,Gago replaces Veljko Paunovic (21W-8D-13L), who mutually parted ways with Liga MX’s second-most successful side on December 15 after a disappointing quarterfinal playoff exit in the 2023 Apertura season. 

Although Paunovic initially exceeded expectations with a run to the 2023 Clausura final in his first season in charge, this season’s quarterfinal exit, coupled with a failure to qualify for the knockout round of the summer’s inaugural MLS-Liga MX Leagues Cup tournament, ultimately led to his departure.

Gago will now begin his third managerial job — and first outside of his home country — after previously leading Racing Club (2021-23) and Aldosivi (2021).

With Aldosivi, Gago produced inconsistent results and resigned in October 2021 after suffering seven defeats in a row.

Brought on by Racing Club weeks later, Gago closed out the 2021 Liga Profesional de Futbol season with a 3W-0D-5L record.

After mixed performances in 2022’s Copa de la Liga Profesional, Copa Argentina and Copa Sudamericana, Racing Club eventually gained steam with a second place finish in the 2022 league season, a Trofeo de Campeones title and a Supercopa Internacional championship in January 2023.

However, questionable results returned, including a 12th place finish in the regular season, which led to Gago’s exit in early October.

Despite being plagued by injuries as a player, Gago collected 61 caps for Argentina‘s national team, as well as a long list of club titles through Boca Juniors, Real Madrid and Velez Sarsfield.

The midfielder also played abroad for Roma and Valencia.

Chivas return to play in January for the 2024 Clausura season. The Guadalajara side are second in Liga MX’s all-time list for championships with 12, but have only lifted once league trophy since 2007.

On Sunday, historic rivals Club América secured their 14th Liga MX title after defeating Tigres 4-1 on aggregate in the 2023 Apertura final.