MLS Executives: There Is “No One Specific Way” To The Front Office

As The League Has Developed, The Range of Jobs Has Expanded And Continues To Provide New Career Opportunities.

MIAMI, Fla. (October 11, 2019) —

Today’s Major League Soccer clubs are a far cry from what they were in the beginning days of the league.

Teams are now managing full academies and some have USL squads (Inter Miami and New England are the two latest to announce USL teams for next season). With all of these additional components to an MLS team, millions of dollars in investment is required to run operations. Scouting has gone global as well. In addition to the financial undertaking, a full soccer operations staff is needed in order to do the job effectively.

The rapid expansion of Major League Soccer has increased the demand for employees to fill the various roles. With each new team, there is a full slate of front office jobs to fill, and that demand for talent has increased exponentially.

The list of positions in front offices across MLS includes work in team administration, salary cap management, analytics, scouting, team operations, stadium operations, ticketing and sales, marketing, legal, sponsorships, communications, digital and media, community engagement, and more. The staff includes many different titles, for example, president, chief commercial officer, sporting director (or general manager) (usually charged with running scouting, player selection and other soccer operations) and team administrator (who handles things like travel and players’ adjustment to teams and cities, including housing, banking and other life needs). Generally speaking, job functions within a front office can be divided into two sides: Soccer Operations and Commercial.

“It’s a natural evolution,” said Dave Kasper, who is the general manager (since 2004) of D.C. United. “You’re expanding where there’s multiple departments on the soccer side, and we’re starting to see that because our league is growing so fast and there is more money being pumped in.”

Dave Kasper, General Manager, D.C. United

“When you think about everything a front office entails, it’s player development, it’s scouting, domestic and international, and it’s team administration,” said Will Kuntz, Vice-President of Soccer Operations at LAFC, “There is so much you have to touch and it’s so global in a way that few other sports are. You look at front offices in other sports, pick your sport, they have a whole number of people in a number of roles. It underscores the importance of myriad people in the job.”

The ability to scout and identify international talent is absolutely essential in today’s MLS, which has only increased since the introduction of targeted allocation money (TAM). This year’s example of how not to build a club was provided by FC Cincinnati. The team used a large portion of its TAM on trades to build its roster instead of bringing in more talented players and using the TAM to buy down their salaries. This was due to Cincinnati’s lack of having someone, a general manager or sporting director, in the office during the roster-building stages. They eventually added Gerard Nijkamp, who formerly led PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands, as GM.

The Cincinnati example should be a lesson for all future MLS teams; a properly staffed soccer operations staff will likely include one or more people with expertise on the league’s intricacies. MLS’s centralised, single-entity status and league-controlled salary cap mechanisms essentially have created a niche skill set that is vital to success.

Knowledge of the international market is very important. MLS front offices need to have an active presence internationally as MLS becomes both a buyer and a seller in the global football market.

As the dollar amount goes up, acquisitions become even more critical,” said U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter, who was considered one of the top chief soccer officers in the league when he worked as coach/technical director with the Columbus Crew. “And as we realize that we can’t always be a buying league, we also need to be a selling league, the way we structure our clubs and the way we work to both bring players in and sell players is extremely important. Clubs are realizing that. So they’re putting more resources into scouting, which they should. They are putting more resources into player personnel; once you get the player here how do we integrate them into the team and how do we integrate them into the society? And then I think teams are now also putting more resources into…how do we export these players? What do the contacts look like?”

What Kind of Backgrounds Fit In?

“I do think as the league grows we all need to grow in the support staff. There is going to be a combination in every front office and it comes down to the individuals and their skill sets and where they can add value.

It may be a former player, it may not. It may be someone who has (a) law background or was an agent. It comes down to relationships, being able to work with the coaching staff and different people in the club and being able to manage up. Some is specific to personalities and some is understanding MLS and the landscape of U.S. Soccer, and that can be learned. I don’t think there is one specific way.”

Chris Henderson, Sporting Director, Seattle Sounders FC

Some of those hired by clubs have experience in the MLS office itself. Take Chicago Fire Senior Vice-President of Communications Sean Dennison, as one example. A graduate of prestigious McGill University in Montreal, he worked for fourteen years at MLS headquarters, the last two of which he served as Vice-President of Communications for the league, before joining Chicago in 2018. Other examples include general managers Ali Curtis of Toronto Football Club, Nelson Rodriguez of the Chicago Fire SC, the aforementioned Will Kuntz and Sporting Kansas City’s Assistant Director Of Player Personnel, Meghan Cameron, all of whom had previous experience in the league office.

Others have worked for other leagues or confederations. Inter Miami CF’s Chief Business Officer Jurgen Mainka, for example, served as the director of marketing and communications, and later the Deputy General Secretary and Chief Commercial Officer at Concacaf prior to being hired by the Inter Miami ownership group. Looking at the personnel across MLS teams also shows that not all front office employees even have prior experience in soccer, or even in sports in general.

Chris Henderson’s Insights On Front Offices

Seattle Sounders FC sporting director Chris Henderson Photo: (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Chris Henderson is currently the sporting director of the Seattle Sounders. A former midfielder, he gave coaching a try post-career but thereafter transitioned into being a technical director. Henderson was hired by the Sounders as technical director in 2008. He has spent the last decade learning “on-the-job” and also interacting with foreign clubs when he travels the globe scouting for players.

“The ownership groups have their own companies and are used to running businesses and used to having people with a certain profile to run their business,” Henderson said. “Somebody with extensive soccer knowledge (can help) because in the position you are going to be in you have to have an understanding with the head coach and the coaching staff.”

While the hires around the league follow different strategies and come from different backgrounds, a common theme is also there: the investment teams are willing to make in order to be competitive. This is only going to increase, and the teams that do it best will continue to have the most success.

“Nobody knows if (a hire) is right or wrong until you look at it later,” Henderson said. “I do think as the league grows we all need to grow in the support staff. There is going to be a combination in every front office and it comes down to the individuals and their skillsets and where they can add value. It may be a former player, it may not. It may be someone who has (a) law background or was an agent. It comes down to relationships, being able to work with the coaching staff and different people in the club and being able to manage up. Some is specific to personalities and some is understanding MLS and the landscape of U.S. Soccer, and that can be learned. I don’t think there is one specific way.”

With regard to those with legal backgrounds, they have found places both within the league office and with its clubs. When asked about the changing roles of the legal department at Major League Soccer, for example, Dimitrios Efstathiou, Vice-President, Legal, said that the legal team today is being considered as more than just ‘scribes’ and ‘drafters.’ “We’re at the table, with our counterparts within the media department or the corporate partnerships department or the licensed products department. We are sitting down and helping drafting a strategy to approach a deal and issue spot early on so we’re viewed as, again, a business affairs member as opposed to the lawyer.”

Another example is Darren Eales, President of Atlanta United, who had played soccer while attending West Virginia University and Brown University, later returning to his native England and earning a law degree from Cambridge. After working as in-house counsel at West Bromwich Albion, he moved on to Tottenham in 2010, where his work touched on all major aspects of soccer operations. He helped to negotiate and execute player transfers, including playing a key role in the 2013 world record transfer fee sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. Eales was the first person hired for the Atlanta team by owner Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons.

Darren Eales and Atlanta United Owner Arthur Blank. Photo: Atlanta United FC

Lawyers are thus particularly good candidates for MLS front offices. Beyond the ‘obvious’ role of serving as an in-house counsel, someone with a legal background has a skill set that can be valuable in any business agenda. For example, most lawyers are very skilled at written and oral communications. Even with all the advances in technology, business is still won and lost based on personal relationships. People do business with whom they trust, with whom they find commonality and with whom they like. And these relationships are built on clear communication, exchanges of ideas and getting to know each other, skills that most lawyers have. Additionally, given the extensive use of contracts, from sponsorship agreements to media rights distribution to player contracts, having legal skills can assist with issue spotting and avoiding vagueness that often leads to disputes. Finally, despite the stories that make the news, most lawyers adhere to a high degree of ethical standards and can bring added professionalism to a business setting.

With new MLS teams beginning in Miami, Nashville, Austin, Saint Louis and at least one other city in the near future, there will be a need for many competent candidates to carry out the myriad of job functions in the front office. Some of these people may have a soccer background, while others may have other useful skills like foreign languages or an aptitude to work in an international environment. Whatever their skills and talent, they will also need passion and energy. Teams that have an open-minded approach to hiring and can assemble a front office with the right combination of talent, experience and dedication will be the winners.


Related:

MLS also has annual awards for front offices. Here’s a list of who and which teams won awards following the 2018 season:

2018 MLS Club and Executive Award Winners:

  • Doug Hamilton Executive of the Year – Darren Eales
  • Ticket Sales Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Public Relations Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Club Retailer of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Digital Team of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Operations Staff of the Year – Atlanta United
  • Supporter Management Team of the Year – Atlanta United

Additional award winners

  • Sporting Executive of the Year – Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City
  • Corporate Partnerships Team of the Year – Los Angeles Football Club
  • Corporate Partnerships Executive of the Year – Justin Compton (Sporting Kansas City)
  • Ticket Sales Executive of the Year – Sean Sittnick (Minnesota United FC)
  • Marketing Executive of the Year – Rich Orosco (Los Angeles Football Club)
  • Expansion Club Recognition Award – Los Angeles Football Club
  • Ticketing Sales Impact Award presented by the National Sales Center powered by SeatGeek – Colorado Rapids (Sales Combine)
  • Marketing Team of the Year – New York City FC (24-hour game)
  • Marisa Colaiano Community Relations Department of the Year presented by MLS WORKS – Chicago Fire
  • Business Analytics Team of the Year – Los Angeles Football Club
  • Social Media Activation of the Year – LA Galaxy (#Galaxy Social / Malea Emma)
  • Digital Content Experience of the Year – Portland Timbers (The Rivalry)
  • Equipment Manager of the Year – Chris Maxwell (Houston Dynamo)
  • Security Staff of the Year – Seattle Sounders FC
  • eMLS Team of the Year – Philadelphia Union
  • Team Administrator of the Year – Spencer Childs (Portland Timbers)
  • Athletic Training Staff of the Year – Sporting Kansas City
  • Academy of the Year – Sporting Kansas City
more

MLS Decision Day 2019 – Here’s What Is At Stake

MIAMI, Fla. (October 5, 2019) —

The last day of the MLS season is upon us. It’s called “Decision Day.” For most fans of soccer around the world, that means a final chance for some clubs to survive relegation, or for a club to seal the championship. For MLS, which follows the model of North American sports leagues, the final round of the season is a chance for some clubs to secure a place in the postseason tournament, known as MLS Cup.

For this season, MLS made some changes which definitely gives more emphasis to the regular season and rewards teams for better performances. The post season was revised to a single elimination format which involves single games at the home of the higher seed, rather than two legs that flattened the odds. This means teams are vying to finish high enough in the table to secure a very important home matches in MLS Cup.

All games kickoff Sunday, October 6 at 4 p.m. EDT.

Fixtures For Round 34

What’s at Stake? Here are the main 2019 MLS Decision Day Storylines:

  • In the Eastern Conference, three teams – D.C. United (4th place / 49 points), New York Red Bulls (5th / 48 points) and Toronto FC (6th / 47 points) – will be playing for the final spot available to host a playoff game.
  • In the Western Conference, four teams – Portland Timbers (46 points), FC Dallas (45 points), San Jose Earthquakes (44) and Colorado Rapids (42 points) – are competing for two playoff spots.
  • The Seattle Sounders FC and Minnesota United are tied for second in the table on 53 points. They play each other in Seattle at CenturyLink Field; the winner secures the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference.
  • The Los Angeles Galaxy can assure themselves of having a home game in the playoffs with a win over Houston. Last year, Houston’s win at Carson cost the Galaxy a spot in the playoffs. Zlatan and company are hoping to set the record straight this time.
  • Chasing the Golden Boot Award: LAFC’s Carlos Vela is tied for MLS’s most goals in a season record, set last year by Atlanta’s Josef Martínez, at 31 goals. If Vela scores Sunday, he gets the record. Currently at 29 goals for the season, LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic is chasing Vela for 2019 top scorer and the record.

Probing 2019 MLS Decision Day Questions:

Eastern Conference: Should Teams Watch out for the Revolution?

With the Eastern Conference qualifiers already set in stone, Atlanta versus New England looks to be the most interesting match of Round 34 on this side of the league.

Atlanta can lock up the number 2 seed in the East with a win against New England combined with a Philadelphia loss or draw.

Ironically, despite winning a lot of matches in their three-year history, the Five Stripes still have not won on decision day. In 2017, Atlanta drew 2-2 with Toronto FC at home. The following season, they were crushed 4-1 at BMO Field. On Sunday they’ll face a dangerous New England Revolution side that come into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on a high.

New England has been looking like a time on the rise under Bruce Arena, riding some serious momentum. New England clinched the seventh and final playoff spot in the east with a 2-0 win over top-seed New York City FC, a team that recently defeated Atlanta United 4-1 in the Bronx.

Toronto FC currently sit sixth in the table, just one point behind the Red Bulls from New Jersey.

Atlanta United has not done well versus the Reds, while the team from New Jersey has won in Atlanta before. It’s reason enough for Atlanta to want to avoid playing either of these sides right away in the first round of the playoffs.

New England comes into Atlanta with nothing to lose. They are in the playoffs, something that looked impossible until Arena took the helm. The pressure sits squarely on Atlanta United. This is Arena’s first visit to Atlanta with the Revolution. The way he sets up New England today could tell us how he may approach a potential playoff rematch. Expect New England to stay compact and look for the counterattack. Columbus Crew used this trategy in Atlanta on September 14th and came away with a win. Frank de Boer’s team failed to find the necessary attacking solutions, and were subsequently punished in transition. How will De Boer adjust? It should be a study in tactics.  

Western Conference: Can Los Angeles Football Club Finish With The Most Points In History?

LAFC has been the dominant team this season, with only a couple of blips on the radar. They will likely use the final game of the season to remain focused. As the top seed, after this game they will have a first-round bye that will give them two-and-a-half weeks’ rest. With a win, LAFC have a chance to finish with the most points in a single season. Will they do it?

Can Colorado actually sneak in to the playoffs?

The Rapids had been building up momentum for months. After starting the season 0-9-2, they rallied under interim coach Conor Casey toward something resembling respectability. Robin Fraser took over as the Colorado Rapid’s head coach in late August, with his only previous managerial gig having been with Club Deportivo Chivas USA.

“By the end of the first session, I thought that not only were they a good team, that they have a really good spirit, and a lot of belief in themselves,” Fraser said. “That’s when I felt like this could be a really fun project.”

Now, on the last round of the season the Rapids have a chance, though admittedly a slim one, of making the playoffs. Can they do it? To reiterate, despite having started the season winless through 11 games the Rapids are still alive heading into the final round.

If Colorado upsets LAFC — the best team in the league, already owning the Supporters’ Shield and with the top playoff seed already clinched — and Dallas loses to Kansas City and San Jose loses to Portland, the Rapids are in. Even if the ‘Quakes draw with the Timbers, Colorado can still qualify through tiebreakers if they win by two goals or more. This ‘perfect storm’ isn’t exactly likely. LAFC is the top team, Dallas is at home, and Kansas City is playing only for pride. But wouldn’t it be a great story of overcoming odds?

Colorado has been scoring goals. Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio are both in the double digits (13 and 11, respectively), while Andre Shinyashiki and Jonathan Lewis have come on stronger. Fraser wants to inject a possession style of play but joining so far into the season has made that difficult. Yet he’s optîistic.

“I really admire the character of the team. They care about each other, and I think you see that in how they play, adds Fraser.”

No matter what happens on Sunday, that’s something to build on and carry over. And if they can get into the playoffs they will definitely be a team to watch.

Which club, the Portland Timbers or San Jose Earthquakes, will stumble into the playoffs?

Their game at Providence Park in Portland is the only semi-do-or-die matchup on the schedule in Round 34. Despite going a combined 1-7-3 in September, at least one of them will drag themselves into the playoffs on Sunday afternoon. Portland has played its last three games to a draw. Portland can lose this game and still get into the postseason torunament if Dallas also loses. The Earthquakes, who need a win, won the first meeting between the teams, 3-0.

There is a sense that both teams might be approaching unhappy endings.

This could very well be Diego Valeri’s last game as a Timber. Negotiations over a new contract have not gone well, and the two sides have different demands. Valeri has been the face of the Timbers since his arrival in 2013. He’s gone above and beyond — not just on the pitch, but as an ambassador in the community as well. Yet neither side looks likely to budge at the moment. This might be it.

Moving past Valeri’s situation, the Timbers have had a strange and trying year, summed up by Brian Fernandez’s goal drought and red card that has him suspended for this all-important finale.

San Jose sits just below the playoff line on 44 points. But if you had offered them this position at the beginning of the season — win one, final game and you’re in — surely they would have taken it. The club has done much better under head coach Matías Almeyda in his first year with the team, who has imparted an exciting style of play.

San Jose has slumped late, however. They have lost eight out of 10 since early August. Either opponents have figured them out or Almeyda’s physically demanding high press has ground them down. There are also rumours out of Mexico that Club de Fútbol Monterey are looking for a new manager, and, you guessed it, his name is Matías Almeyda.

Almeyda is a bigger name that most people realise, having been successful in his native Argentina and leading Chivas Guadalajara to the CONCACAF Champions League title just last year Earlier this week, he admitted that links with Monterrey and a return to Liga MX made him “happy.” How quickly the sand can shift in the world of soccer.

Is Seattle or Minnesota a real contender?

The victor of the Sounders-Loons game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle will lock up the No. 2 seed in the west, and home-field advantage all the way to the conference final. However, If Real Salt Lake wins in Vancouver and the LA Galaxy win in Houston, whichever side loses the match at CenturyLink Field would drop to fifth.

Seattle seems to feel rightly disappointed by this year’s performance: “I think anytime we don’t compete for the Supporters’ Shield, with the talent that we have, is a fail,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said this week.

“Maybe it’s more of a redemption-type game for us,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “We’ve had so many opportunities to make a statement game, and we’ve squandered quite a few of them. … We’ve been very, very fortunate. Let’s be honest. I think our season has been not the best. It was nice to finally start on top, but the remainder of the year has been a struggle. At some point, we have to make that statement.”

Minnesota has qualified for the playoffs for the first time. Their highlight moment of the season was a 2-0 away win at LAFC, which is also LAFC’s only loss since El Tráfico on July 19th. Carlos Vela was absent that match. But with the MVP favourite reinstated last weekend at Allianz Field, Minnesota still ground out a 1-1 draw. The Loons formula against Los Angeles was to stay compact, give LAFC possession in less dangerous areas, and have a ruthless mentality on the counter.

The Loons are playing with confidence, no matter the opponent.

Who Will Win The Golden Boot?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is second in the goal-scoring race with 29 goals. In fron is Carlos Vela of LAFC, who has 31 goals, a mark which places him in a tie with Atlanta United Josef Martínez for the most goals in a single MLS season. Zlatan had this to say:

“I am trying to score goals every game, that is part of my responsibility, part of what I have to do to help my teammates,” I have 29 goals in 28 games. If I would have the same amount [of] games like the other ones, it would be different. But now I’m chasing someone that has more games than me. If we score we score, we’ll have to see what the end number will be. If there still is a possibility, we’ll try.”

Still, the LA Galaxy star insists the ultimate aim is to achieve team glory.

“I prefer the collective win, when we win that game, that is more important,” he said. “With the collective success the individual success comes with it. If I can do good for my team, with my team, I know I’m doing good. I’m not focusing on the individual bonuses, I always say it’s like a bonus. Without my teammates those things would not be possible. If I win, it’s my team that wins. Whoever wins the Golden Boot has to think it’s not because of him, it’s because of his teammates.”


Credit to The Athletic for providing inspiration and perspective.

Inter Miami CF Select Heineken As Top Draught Pick; Announce Multiyear Sponsorship

Dutch brewing giant continues to invest in soccer and now has sponsorship agreements with 11 MLS clubs in addition to league-wide deal.

Club Internacional de Fútbol is positioned to become the first global team of Major League Soccer.


“We are proud to welcome Heineken as the founding partner of our growing Inter Miami CF family and look forward to making history together as we kick off our first season in MLS.”

Jurgen Mainka, Chief Business Officer, Inter Miami CF

Miami, Fla. (Monday, August 5, 2019) – Kenneth Russo

The teaser ad went live on last Friday on Inter Miami CF’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, complete with announcers speaking in a distinct Miami accent, asking the question, “What will Inter Miami CF do with their first “draught” pick?”

The promo was filmed last month right here in Miami, and, the theme was a nod to fans of more traditional “American” sports like American football and basketball, where there is always a buzz around what player gets selected with the first draft pick.

“The answer is that this pick might just be the best in the world and it’s used to doing well under the sun, which is so key here in Miami.” The ‘sportscasters’ also predicted that this pick was going to be European.

Who will be quenching our thirst for goals?

Who will play con el sabor this city deserves?

And correct they were.

Today, the club announced that Heineken will be the official beer of Inter Miami CF. The multi-year deal establishes Heineken as the first Founding Partner and Official Beer of Inter Miami CF, granting them signage, intellectual property rights, and retail activations. The brand will work closely with Inter Miami to continuosly elevate the fan experience in South Florida. The deal comes after Inter Miami appointed London-based KIN Partners in February as their exclusive sponsorship sales representation agency. As is the custom, no financial details about the partnership were made public. However deals like this customarily represent a multi-million dollar investment by the sponsor in the club over the term of the agreement.

At the announcement yesterday, at El Tucán in downtown Miami, the official commercial was shown for the first time. The is available on Inter Miami’s official website (www.intermiamicf.com) and on social media channels. It was filmed in July, 2019 at Toe Jam Backlot in Wynwood (Miami) and feature the club’s three official supporters groups, Southern Legion, Vice City 1896 and The Siege Supporters Club.

Present at yesterday’s announcement was Heineken’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jonnie Cahill, who said that Heieneken “could not wait” for Miami to join Major League Soccer. “After much anticipation and excitement around the return of MLS to South Florida, we are thrilled to play a role as Inter Miami CF’s first official partner, and look forward to celebrating many future firsts together,” Cahill said. “We are known worldwide as a devoted soccer brand, and through this partnership, we can’t wait to provide soccer fans across South Florida with the premium experience—and beer—they have come to expect from Heineken for years to come.” He went on to say that Heineken will be with the club every step of the way to make Inter Miami CF the most iconic club in MLS.

Inter Miami CF have established the Founding Partner level of partnership for partners who seek the highest levels of visibility, access to the team and experiences that can be customized to forge an unprecedented connection with Inter Miami CF fans throughout South Florida and beyond.

“Our goal at Inter Miami CF is to provide the best possible experience to our fans. With Heineken we have an excellent partner who not only shares our vision and passion for the sport but also understands the importance of being a community-first organization who engages directly with our core audience.”

“We have an excellent partner who not only shares our vision and passion for the sport but also understands the importance of being a community-first organisation who engages directly with our core audience.”

Jurgen Mainka, Chief Business Officer, Inter Miami CF

“Since 2014, Heineken has been an invaluable supporter of Major League Soccer and our clubs, so it is with great pride that we congratulate Heineken and Inter Miami CF on the announcement of their partnership,” said MLS Deputy Commissioner and President of MLS Business Ventures, Gary Stevenson. “Heineken has a deep history of forging authentic relationships with fans across the league through celebratory moments and numerous club partnerships. We look forward to working with both brands to engage fans in Southern Florida in innovative ways for many years to come.”

The agreement mark’s Heineken’s 14th club sponsorship in MLS, in addition to it’s league-wide partnership which is in the second year of a five-year extension signed in March 2018.

The Heineken’s Brouwery, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Inter Miami supporters groups were featured in the creation of the commercial. Photo: Heineken
ReLATED

Inter Miami CF Announces First Two Players

Another Historic Day In The Life of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami.

Club Confirms Previous Reports Here And Elsewhere.

Miami, Fla. (Friday, July 26, 2019) by Kenneth Russo

Another day. Another first. Two of them, to be precise.

The team that for so long didn’t have a name; didn’t have colours; didn’t have a chance according to some; lacked this and didn’t have that; whose supporters were mocked for supporting a fictitious team. All this has changed over the past year and a half, of course.

And today, the dream is more tangible than ever. For today, the Rosanegra has announced the signing of its first two jugadores.

The club was expected to name its first players over the summer. Exactly when wasn’t known for sure. However, reports out of Argentina in recent days and weeks suggested that transfer deals were in place, and research revealed that the players whose names had been reported on had indeed visited Miami.

This morning, Inter Miami raised expectations that an announcement was forthcoming by posting several tweets on its Instagram account. It seemed to be a prelude to something big:

And big it was. “Matías Pellegrini. El Primero.” That was the caption on the first video announcement that was sent out on social media at 3:57 p.m. EDT. a video that was described with words such as “clean,” “more like a raggaeton singer intro,” “dope merch,” “dope marketing,” and “dripping in swag.” In other words, a very Miami-like production, right down to the essential Miami trait of mixing Spanish and English in the course of a single statement.. Shortly thereafter, the second announcement was pushed out, at 4:20 p.m.: “Seguimos. #LaFamilia is about to grow stronger.” | 4:30 p.m.: “Julián Carranza. Welcome to #LaFamilia.”

Matías Pellegrini

Pellegrini, 19, is a native of Magdalena, Argentina. His primary positions are as a left winger and centre forward. He was promoted to the first team in August 2018, having been part of the reserve squad of Estudiantes’ de La Plata (U20) prior to that. His first goal as a professional cane against Boca Juniors. He has made 15 appearances for Estudiantes this season, with three goals and one assist. He has logged 1,053 minutes across all competitions (903’ in Primera División and 150’ in the Copa Libertadores). Pellegrini joined the Estudiantes Academy at the age of 11.

Mati joins Inter Miami CF from Estudiantes via transfer and will be classified as a Young Designated Player. He will remain on loan with Estudiantes through January 2020. The value of the transfer is listed on Transfermarkt as being $9.23 million USD. (8.1 million EUR).

Pellegrini Profile On Transfermarkt

Julián Carranza

Carranza, from Oncativo, Argentina, also 19, is in his second season as a professional. He joined the senior squad of Club Atlético Banfield in 2017. Since then, he has made 29 career appearances for them, scoring 8 goals. He has logged 1,871 minutes across all competitions. Carranza featured in two matches for the Argentina U17 team at the 2017 South American Championship in Chile, and has also trained with the U20 team.

Prior to playing as a professional with El Taladro, Carranza came through Banfield’s academy system, having moved to Buenos Aires at the age of 13 to join their academy.

Like Pellegrini, Carranza will remain on loan with Banfield for the fall Superliga season, and will join his future teammates for training camp at the end of January, 2020, in advance of the inaugural season in MLS which begins next March. His transfer is listed on Transfermarkt as being for $6.16 million USD (5.5 million EUR).

“Julian is a very grounded player with an impressive work rate. He’s the player that strives to score goals and is very good in the box”

Paul McDonough, Sporting Director

Carranza Profile On Transfermarkt

Recent Video Clip:

And it’s only the beginning. The secondary transfer window in MLS is open until August 7th (the last date for inbound transfers) so there is reason to believe fans of Inter Miami can expect more names to be announced. To stay on top of news from Inter Miami, look on this site or on the club’s official website at http://www.InterMiamiCF.com.

Continue reading Inter Miami CF Announces First Two Players

Pellegrini Returns From The U.S. And Trains With Estudiantes; Transfer to Inter Miami CF confirmed


Pellegrini passes medical tests; Estudiantes releases statement on deal with Inter Miami CF.

Miami, Fla. (Tuesday, July 23, 2019) – Kenneth Russo

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami finally has a player: Matías Pellegrini.

Per a communication by Estudiantes de La Plata, the Argentine club and Inter Miami CF have completed a deal to transfer 19-year old Argentine midfielder Matias Pellegrini.

Additionally, Argentine publication El Dia de La Plata reported Tuesday that Matias Pellegrini returned from the United States and was in training with Estudiantes today, in advance of the club’s opening game in the 2019 Argentine Superliga this weekend versus Aldosivi de Mar del Plata.

The same report states that in addition to Pellegrini successfully completing his medical exam, Estudiantes was able to complete the deal with Inter Miami, worth about $9 million, and potentially up to $11 million depending on his future performance.

Estudiantes de La Plata released the following official communication that confirms what has been reported: (English Translation Below)

COMUNICADO DEL CLUB SOBRE PELLEGRINI

El Club Estudiantes de La Plata hace saber que el jugador Matías Pellegrini pasó con éxito la revisación médica en el Inter Miami CF y ya regresó al país, donde se puso a las órdenes del cuerpo técnico de Gabriel Milito de cara al inicio de la Superliga.

El futbolista viajó a Estados Unidos junto a Diego Ronderos, integrante de la Secretaría de Fútbol Profesional. El joven surgido de las divisiones inferiores superó los chequeos y ahora se ultiman detalles para su transferencia definitiva a la institución de la Major League Soccer.

Pellegrini, quien este martes entrenó a la par de sus compañeros en el Country Club de City Bell, comenzará a trabajar en su nuevo club en enero de 2020.

COMMUNICATION FROM THE CLUB ABOUT PELLEGRINI

Estudiantes de La Plata has learned that its player, Matías Pellegrini, successfully passed the medical check-up at Inter Miami CF and has already returned to the country, where he was placed under the command of Gabriel Milito’s coaching staff for the start of the Super League.

The player traveled to the United States with Diego Ronderos, Secretary of Professional Football. The young man, who emerged from the lower divisions, passed his tests and now the details are finalized for his definitive transfer to the Major League Soccer institution.

Pellegrini, who on Tuesday trained with his teammates at the City Bell Country Club, will begin working at his new club in January 2020.


Pellegrini started at left midfield last Saturday in Estudiantes’ 2-0 win over Club Mitre, scoring a goal that turned out to be the game-winner. Here is a video of that game:

Inter Miami officials confirmed in response to media enquiries that Pellegrini was in Miami on Monday to meet with team executives, but said they were not ready to make a formal announcement yet. These developments came while David Beckham was in Miami for a family vacation, and it is likely he was involved in meeting with the young Argentine winger.

Pellegrini Flies To Miami For Medical In A “Lightning Trip”

Miami, Fla. (Monday, July 22, 2019 – by Kenneth Russo

After playing 70 minutes and scoring a goal for Estudiantes de La Plata this past Saturday in their 2-0 win over Club Mitre in the Copa Argentina (Twitter @copaargentina), Matías Pellegrini and his representative Gustavo Ghezzi flew to Miami yesterday, according to El Día in Argentina.

Today, he will have a medical exam and meet with Jorge Más and Inter Miami team officials to finalize his contract. The self-described “lightning trip” is because “Mati” intends to be able to play for Estudiantes’ this coming Sunday in the first game of the 2019 Argentina Superliga (La Primera División) versus Aldosivi. “No me voy a perder ningún partido.” – “I’m not going to miss a single game,” the young midfielder assured the media. Pellegrini’s transfer is reportedly in the $9 to $10 million range, with performance incentives structured into the deal.

Once officially an Inter player, the plan is for him to remain with Estudiantes on loan until the end of the year, which means he can complete the revised Argentine Superliga calendar prior to joining Club Internacional de Fútbol for training camp in early 2020.

According to various Argentine media outlets, Inter Miami is simultaneously working on a $6 million deal for 19-year-old Club Atlético Banfield forward Julián Carranza, who would also stay with his club through the end of the year and report to Inter Miami sometime between January and March 2020. Carranza has reportedly already been to Miami and taken his medical exam, which was described as “demanding.”

Pellegrini played 70 minutes and scored the winning goal in a 2-0 win over Club Mitre Saturday. Photos: Estudiantes de La Plata

When asked about the status of negotiations for Inter’s first players, Sporting Director Paul McDonough told The Miami Herald’s Michelle Kaufman:

“We are in contract negotiations with up to six or seven players, heavily involved in that right now, with all levels of guys. We will have announcements coming soon.”

Inter Miami Sporting Director Paul McDonough
Paul McDonough, Sporting Director

McDonough, who is in charge of building the roster and leading the team’s on-field soccer operations, also told Kaufman that the negotiations are complicated because some players require to be moved to another club on loan in order to continue to play during the next six months. With that come the finances that have to be also ironed out. Most often, players who are loaned out have their wages paid by the team that they are loaned to. However, in the end it’s about what the parties agree to. More importantly, Inter Miami must also work within the confines of MLS’ salary budget universe, where each player is assigned a “Salary Budget Charge,” the maximum being $530,000. There is also a limit of up to three “Designated Players,” whose total salary and acquisition costs exceed the maximum salary budget charge. Assembling the type of team that will electrify fans and get attention in Miami will require skillful handling of these considerations.

“We are in contract negotiations with up to six or seven players, heavily involved in that right now, with all levels of guys,” McDonough said. “We will have announcements coming soon. We’re close. We’d like to have between four and eight signed by September.”

Miami is in contract negotiations with six or seven players, and the first couple could be signed by July 31, according to McDonough.

McDonough is a proven expert at working out these nuances though, and it won’t be long before fans of the Rosanegra have real players to follow.


Related:

Reports Emerge Of Second Player Signing By Inter Miami CF

MLS Roster Rules

MLS: 2019 Secondary Transfer Window Updates, Part 2

Miami, Fla. (Thursday, July 11, 2019) –

Transfers, Transactions, and Reports for the second day of the MLS Secondary Transfer Window:

Toronto Football Club

Toronto FC has been active in preparing for MLS’ Secondary Transfer Window by announcing the signing of Zamora F.C. (Venezuela Primera División) winger Erickson Gallardo, via the use of Targeted Allocation Money. Gallardo, 22, will be eligible to play this weekend as the Reds take on the Impact de Montréal at Stade Saputo, a/k/a “Le Classique Canadien” for those in Québec, subject to receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (“ITC”).

After making his debut in 2014, Gallardo has made 116 combined appearances for Zamora F.C. In the past three seasons, he made a total of 91 appearances (64 starts) and recorded 10 goals and 19 assists. Gallardo was part of Zamora’s last three league championships in 2015, 2016 and 2018. In the second leg of the 2018 Apertura Final, he scored the winning goal.

“Erickson is a talented attacking player that will improve our team. He has good character and is excited to earn the respect of his teammates, meet our great fans, and he and his wife are looking forward to settling into the City of Toronto,” TFC General Manager Ali Curtis said. “He has speed, can shift directions quickly and can open up the game for himself and others. Mid-season can sometimes be challenging to step into a new team, particularly for young, international players. With that said, we’re excited to get him going because we believe he can make an impact now, and in the future.”

He won his only senior cap with the Venezuela National Team in a June friendly draw against Ecuador.

Back on June 3, TFC made another key move by also acquiring U.S. International defender Omar Gonzalez on a transfer from Atlas Fútbol Club (Guadalajara) of Liga MX.

Toronto used its first-place position in the allocation ranking to sign Gonzalez using TAM (Targeted Allocation Money), subject to Gonzalez passing a medical exam, as well as the receipt of his ITC. He will then be eligible for the roster on July 9 when the transfer window re-opens.

Gonzalez, 30, was in his first season with Atlas, having made 36 appearances with two goals since joining the squad in July 2018.

“Adding Omar will improve our team. He is a great competitor that will approach every training session and match with a high level of intensity. He’ll also be able to add a greater presence in the air for us, both offensively and defensively. And, while he has won numerous trophies during his career on the club and international level, he is hungry to be part of championship team in Toronto,” said Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis. “We were looking for a very specific profile of player. Omar’s a good guy. He will fit in well with the group, and he will be a welcome addition to the locker room and daily environment.”

Gonzalez began his professional career after being selected third overall by LA Galaxy in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. In seven seasons with the Galaxy, Gonzalez made 223 combined appearances (MLS, MLS Cup Playoffs, U.S. Open Cup, Concacaf Champions League) with 17 goals and 13 assists. With the Galaxy, he won three MLS Cups (2011, 2012, 2014), two MLS Supporters’ Shields (2010, 2011), was named to the MLS Best XI four times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014) along with MLS Defender of the Year (2011) and MLS Rookie of the Year (2009).

In December 2015, Gonzalez was sold and signed with C.F. Pachuca (Pachuca) of Liga MX. While with Pachuca, he made 87 combined appearances with three goals and four assists. Gonzalez won three trophies with Pachuca including, the Clausura Liga MX championship (2016), 2016 Liga MX championship and the 2016-17 Concacaf Champions League.

Gonzalez has earned 49 caps for the U.S. Men’s National team. He was part of the U.S. 2013 and 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup winning sides; and the roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. His most recent cap came on March 27, 2019 in a 1-1 friendly match against Chile. Gonzalez was recently on the U.S. squad for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

“Greg gave me a clear picture of what the team is like, where he sees the team going and where I can fit into that picture. He sold me on coming here,” said Gonzalez. “Wherever you want me to play, I’ll do it. I’ll play my role; team comes first. On the left, on the right, it doesn’t matter. I’ve got to step up; do what I’ve got to do to help the team get wins.”

The addition of Gallardo, as well as defender Omar Gonzalez (who signed with TFC on June 3), gives Manager Greg Vanney the type of players that were much-needed – a pure winger and a big defender.

New England Revolution

Longtime dormant in the transfer marketplace, the decision to hire Bruce Arena as the sporting director and head coach in May came with it a pledge that he would have the latitude to invest in the roster. A veteran coach of Arena’s caliber would certainly not be interested in taking the job and continuing the club’s low-budget, penny-pinching (aka cheap) mentality.

That pledge turned into reality Wednesday, as the Revs announced the signing of Gustavo Bou as a Designated Player from Club Tijuana of Liga MX. It is reported that New England has paid a club-record transfer fee ($6-7 million USD) to acquire the Argentine striker.

The forward, who is nicknamed ‘La Pantera’, was the most expensive signing in the ten-year history of the Xolos. His professional career spans 12 seasons in the first divisions of Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico. He has scored 85 goals with River Plate, Olimpo de Bahía Blanca, Liga de Quito, Gimnasia de La Plata, Racing Club y Xolos de Tijuana.

“He’s an experienced player,” said Arena. “He’s going to help generate attacking chances for us – whether that’s scoring goals or setting goals up or moving in the right spots to help others. He’s a player with a lot of experience, a lot of quality, and a real good track record.”

Bou, 29 years old, brings knowledge and vast on-field experience to the Revolution squad. His reputation is that of a creative player who has demonstrated an ability to play across the attacking front four, but who is most comfortable on the left wing. “In a pinch he can play the number nine position – which he’s really not natural – and he can play the 10, he can play the seven, the 11,” said Arena. “He can play a bunch of spots. Positions close to goal is where he needs to play.”

Bou has been in form recently, with seven goals and two assists in his final six games with Tijuana, and has scored at least once in all six of those contests. He ranked in the top five league-wide in both goals (10) and assists (five) in Liga MX’s 2019 Torneo Clausura.

Bou will be available for the Revolution pending completion of his medical exam, and receipt of a P-1 Visa and his ITC.

Related: El delantero argentino Gustavo Bou dejó al Xolos de México y jugará en la MLS

Atlanta United FC

Atlanta United made their sixth Homegrown Signing in club history on Tuesday, announcing that 18-year-old defender George Campbell has been signed to a homegrown contract, effective January 1, 2020. Born in Chester, PA, Campbell joined the Atlanta United academy in 2016-17.

“George has shown remarkable progress at each step in his development and he’s earned a professional contract with our club,” Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. “As a member of our inaugural Academy teams in 2016, he’s worked hard to utilize the club’s pathway to the professional level, highlighted by his form in USL this season – most of which came before his 18th birthday.”

He’s spent a majority of the 2019 season with USL affiliate Atlanta United II, where he has 11 appearances. Campbell was named Man of the Match on his professional debut back in March, and has been one of the team’s top performers defensively.


Rumoured Transfers:

Sporting Kansas City

Report: Sporting KC linked with Portuguese wing back Luis Martins

Sporting KC is hoping to make a few moves during the secondary transfer window and reportedly has been linked in serious discussions with one player so far.

According to the Kansas City Star, SKC is interested in Portuguese left back Luis Martins..

Martins was most recently with Portuguese side Chaves, where he joined in 2018. Chaves struggled in Liga NOS (Primeira Liga), Portugal’s top division, finishing in 16th place on 32 points and were relegated to the second division. Martins played in 15 of Chaves’ 34 league games, scoring one goal and playing another six games in Taça do Portugal competitions for Chaves this year. With their relegation this year, Martins and Chaves mutually agreed to terminate his contract with the club, effective June 30, 2019, which makes Martins available for Kansas City to sign on a free transfer.

Martin has also spent time with Benfica and Gil Vicente in Portugal and Spanish side Granada CF while appearing for Osasuna and Maritimo on-loans.

His arrival to SKC would give Peter Vermes another option in defense as the team is without several players due to injury. The club is recently coming off a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

In order to sign Martins, Sporting Kansas City would need to acquire an international roster spot, which they can do via a trade with another MLS club.

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami

It was previously reported here that Inter Miami CF have been linked with two Argentine players, Julián Carranza and Matías Pellegrini, and that deals to transfer these two players have been reached. While there is no word from Inter yet, based on what has been said about the timing of the first player announcement, we should hear something during this secondary transfer window.

Any players who are transferring to Miami during this window would likely be loaned out until the end of the year. (If the reports about Carranza and Pellegrini are correct, those players could be loaned back to their clubs in Argentina or elsewhere for the fall. As an aside, the Superliga Argentina will have a new format for 2019-20 , with 24 teams playing a 23-week season starting in July 2019 and ending in December. The second half of the year, January to May, will be set aside for the Copa de la Superliga.

“We’ll definitely have players signed by the summer,” Sporting Director Paul McDonough said, without getting into further details or a more specific timeline for their first player. “I want to make it a surprise.”


Outbound Transfer

Los Angeles Football Club

Defender Niko Hämäläinen returns to Queens Park Rangers

Finnish-American fullback Niko Hämäläinen has left Los Angeles Football Club due to the conclusion of his loan with the MLS club.

Hämäläinen was loaned by the London-based English Championship (2nd Division) club in February 2019 on a six month term. His loan was not extended by LAFC. During his time in the City of the Angels, the 22-year-old made three appearances, including one start.

“We would like to thank Niko for his contributions to our Club during the first half of the season, and wish him great success moving forward,” said EVP & General Manager John Thorrington.

A former member of the FC Dallas academy, Hämäläinen joined Queens Park back in 2014 but has only made three league appearances for the club to date. QPR had also previously loaned Hämäläinen to Dagenham & Redbridge on a short-term loan in 2015..