This is the MLS Rundown, a daily column focused on news, rumours and transfers. If you would like to connect with the writer, please do so on twitter @CT_MLS
FORMER MLS PROSPECT APPEARS FOR BARCA B
Following a move from Monteal Impact to Barcelona in what is described as one of most significant transfers in MLS history, Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla has now made his debut for the Barcelona B team in in a 1-0 loss to Alcoron. According to an ESPN report, he ‘impressed playing on the right of a front three’ as a second-half substitute.
The report also highlights that the 18-year-old Canadian international trained alongside Lionel Messi and the rest of Barcelona’s first-teamers for the first time this week.
“Ballou’s a player that has that special spark out wide,” Barca B coach Gerard Lopez stated in a news conference. “We were struggling to break [Alcorcon] down and he had two or three good moments where he beat a man. But he’s not just good in one-on-one situations, he’s also good at linking up with his teammates. His adaption is a work in progress still, due to the language and everything that comes with the move. But he’s an 18-year-old kid with a lot of potential and he could be important for us.”
TWO IN AT SEATTLE
Both first-round 2018 MLS SuperDraft pick Alex Roldan and trialist Jordan McCrary have signed contracts with Seattle Sounders.
“We were excited to draft Alex last month and, like his brother, we anticipate him being a positive addition to our club,” Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey said in a club statement.
Alex Roldan is the younger brother of current Sounders midfielder Cristian and like his brother plays in midfield. Alex attended Seattle University, where he made 82 appearances over his four years, amassing 18 goals and 17 assists in collegiate career. He was selected by Seattle as the 22nd overall pick in the draft.
McCrary joins the Sounders after the 24-year-old defender made 19 starts and 27 appearances for Toronto FC II in 2017. He was the 10th overall selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by the New England Revolution, appearing in two US Open Cup matches for the club and one with the Revs’ USL affiliate Rochester Rhinos.
“Jordan has shown well during his trial with us throughout preseason and we believe gives us some quality depth at the fullback position,” Lagerwey added.
Seattle now have 25 players signed for their 2018 squad.
HUNT FOR NEW US GENERAL MANAGER BEGINS
New U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro has begun the search for general managers, with the first name one face familiar to MLS fans.
SI.com’s Grant Wahl reports on that current Seattle Sounders general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey is being considered to fill the USMNT GM position.
Lagerwey has been the Sounders’ GM since January 2015, helping to oversee the construction of a team that would go on to win MLS Cup 2016 and reach the final again in 2017. Prior to his time in Seattle, Lagerwey served seven seasons as the GM and senior VP of soccer operations for Real Salt Lake. During that time, he built RSL into a perennial contender, with the team reaching the playoffs in every year of his tenure after the first, winning MLS Cup 2009 and making a historic appearance in the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League final.
After the appointment of a General Manager, a head coach will follow. There is no urgency as the US men’s national side failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia
A PHOENIX RISING
One of the hopefuls looking to secure a spot in the next round of MLS expansion has announced the addition of a new investor. Advantage Sports Union, headed by Chinese hotel magnate and entrepreneur Alex Zheng, has joined the Phoenix Rising FC ownership group. Zheng’s input is said to boost the USL club’s financial health and global reach. Zheng previously led a group that acquired an 80 percent stake in French club OGC Nice two years ago. Advantage Sports Union is also building a youth soccer academy in China and a network of club alliances across Asia.
“We were fortunate and flattered to meet with a number of impressive investors who have interest in Phoenix Rising FC, but Alex Zheng was exceptional,” said Phoenix Rising FC governor Berke Bakay in a club statement. “His amazing knowledge, experience and intellect were only exceeded by his incredible personality and passion for our sport. My partners and I were unanimous in our desire to add Advantage Sports Union to our ownership and Alex to Phoenix Rising FC’s leadership.”
Arizona United SC was rebranded as Phoenix Rising in 2016 following a host of owner/investors including Premier League legend Didier Drogba, who also played under the banner #RisingAsOne last season.
Phoenix Rising have turned heads across North America since new ownership purchased and rebranded the club in late 2016. The owners have built their own soccer-specific stadium and training complex on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community near Scottsdale. On the pitch, they finished near the top of the USL standings last season and qualified for the playoffs.
They’ve also inked a deal with finance titans Goldman Sachs to assist with the funding of a larger, MLS-grade stadium on the site should they be selected for the league’s next round of expansion, expected to involve the addition of two new franchises to take MLS to 28 member teams after 2020.
Any Other Business…
LA Galaxy have appointed veteran defender Ashley Cole as team captain for the coming campaign… Nashville SC have moved its first-ever USL regular-season home game to Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, with a capacity of nearly 70,000, because of a high demand for tickets.