MLS- Toronto FC

MLS Ticker: Sporting KC signs homegrown defender; Grella trains with Red Bulls; and more

ErikPalmerBrownSportingKC1 (SportingKC)


As good as Sporting Kansas City are right now, they are heavily invested in their future.

Last season, centerback Matt Besler signed a new contract, and already this season, both head coach Peter Vermes and midfielder Graham Zusi have signed new long-term deals. On Friday, Sporting KC announced that they’ve signed their third homegrown player, a 16-year-old defender who is one of two players who are younger than Major League Soccer itself.

Erik Palmer-Brown, a U.S. Under-17 international, was signed by the Eastern Conference club this week and represents another look towards the future of the club. Palmer has been in the Sporting KC academy since he was a 13-year-old in 2009.

The 6 foot 1 inch defender attended the U.S. Soccer residency program this past Spring, featuring for the U-17s in summer tournaments in Japan and Azerbaijan. He will still be eligible to represent the Sporting KC development academy side.

Here are some more stories to check out around the league:


There was a new player in New York Red Bulls training at Red Bull Arena on Friday.

According to reports from Harrison, NJ, Long Island native Mike Grella was the player in question, wearing the number six, formerly worn by Red Bulls defender Dig√£o. Grella suffered through a tough season in terms of playing time last season with Scunthorpe United in England’s League One, starting just 10 times and making 15 other substitute appearances. The English club parted ways with the American forward at the end of May.

Grella was initially drafted by Toronto FC in 2009, but spurned MLS to move to England, joining Leeds United. Finding opportunities at the famed club hard to come by, Grella has since played for Carlisle United, Bury, Brentford, and the aforementioned Scunthorpe.

In May, Grella went on trail with D.C. United.


Toronto FC hopes their latest acquisition will help shore up the season-long defensive struggles.

The club announced on Thursday afternoon the signing of Swiss defender Jonas Elmer from FC Winterthur in the Swiss Challenge League, the second division in Switzerland. Per team and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Elmer, a former Chelsea youth player, has bounced around from club to club in the last few seasons, playing with FC Sion for two seasons before a loan move to AC Bellinzola in 2012 and a permanent transfer to Winterthur this past winter.

The 25-year-old left back had already played three times for Winterthur in the young season. He’s also made eight appearances in the past for the Swiss Under-21s.


With matches coming on Saturday and Sunday, Orlando City SC have been given a huge boost by their MLS affiliated club, Sporting Kansas City.

Sporting KC have sent forward C.J. Sapong on loan for the two matches this weekend, with Sapong expected back on Monday ahead of the MLS side’s upcoming CONCACAF Champions League matches.

It’s the second time this season that Sapong has moved on loan to the USL Pro club in Orlando, Florida.


With just a few days left before the end of the MLS summer transfer window, the Philadelphia Union have taken advantage of a chance to bring on another South American talent.

The Union announced on Friday that they had signed a 24-year-old Brazilian named Gilberto. The midfielder will officially join the team upon receipt of his P-1 Visa, International Transfer Certificate, and the successful completion of his club medical.

Most recently, Gilberto played with Atletico Sorocaba in the Sao Paulo region of Brazil, making 16 appearances in the Paulista State Championship.


What do you think of these reports? Do you like the Palmer signing? Do you see Grella joining the Red Bulls? Where do you see Elmer fitting in at TFC? Do you see Sapong scoring this weekend? What do you think of the Union signing?

Share your thoughts below.

    • Joe+G

      Isn’t that how it is usually working with the USL teams — the players train at MLS club during the week and go to the USL team for games only?


      • DanO

        I claim ignorance. I am not familiar with that arrangement. That said, I’d be a little BS if I was Orlando City’s opponent and they were bringing in a ringer for only 1 or 2 games.


      • Juest

        The Union are doing a somewhat similar thing with their USL affiliate, Harrisburg City Islanders. Aaron Wheeler and Don Anding seem to be going back and forth a lot.

        MLS is treating USL a little bit like minor league baseball, but if USL is willing to take that insult to get better players and more attractive games, it’s a situation that can work out well for both sides. From that perspective, these playoff games are just another opportunity for up-and-coming players to gain experience. I wonder how the 10 or 20 pure USL fans out there feel about it.


      • The Imperative Voice

        They are becoming more like true minor league teams, so I agree with your discussion of the tradeoffs. It’s to the benefit of the minor league team to secure temporary services of big league players, rehab stints, developmentals. How cruel that the fans might be denied Long Tan or Jamie Watson….

        If they’re that worried about the fairness of the championship, you can make some sort of tenure minimum for playoff games. Or maybe the loan players can’t play. But for ordinary games it’s par for the minor league course. If you demand purity it kills the loan concept. FWIW teams around the world loan players and it can impact the way things turn out. Way of the world. Sometimes A-Rod rehabs at Trenton or Clemens works his way back to speed through the Astros organization. And sometimes the minors team is handed a kid with two left feet.


    • Iggy

      Completely agree. The US Soccer fed needs to step in and do something about this. If Orlando can take a loan from KC for a weekend, what’s to keep MLS teams with affiliates from trying the same.

      Plus it creates an unfair balance of play in the USL for the teams that have MLS connections. Very bush league and unprofessional. I am all for the loan setup, but force a minimum time or commitment.


      • Joamiq

        I don’t see what the problem with any of this is. I think this should be encouraged.


      • Joe

        SKC’s USL partner is Orlando. Several teams (4 I think) went with the option at the beginning of the year to have 4 (at least) MLS roster players at a time on the USL team. The Union did it with Harrisburg. It is either this or a reserve league team. The third option, which no team did yet, was to have their own USL team. The teams working with the USL teams can send players returning from injury, young players or older players who weren’t likely to see many if any minutes on the MLS side.


    • The Imperative Voice

      What bait do you use to catch Kaka? Apparently not putting his brother in that shirt, so yes…..


    • slowleftarm

      In any event, I hope our sumer signings include more than a Scunthrope reject.


    • AcidBurn

      I was waiting for the Digao tribute game, or at least Digao bobblehead night at Red Bull Arena to celebrate his illustrious RB career.


  • The Imperative Voice

    Grella should go back to Bury (who also field Holden’s brother) where he was well-liked and somewhat productive. Kind of like Brad Rusin or some of the other lower tier Yanks abroad where if you come back you’re probably not in the NT mix and you’ll be either roster filler in MLS or a starter in the minors. So, big fish in a small pond or do you just want to come home and see what happens.

    If he signed at NYRB he would get lost in the numbers game (Henry, Espindola, Luyindula, on and on) and disappear. His level in England doesn’t suggest he automatically makes an impact here. Getting passed on by DC doesn’t exactly impress. He might get signed here but it feels like someone who’d play a year or two of MLS ball, sub in about 5 times, play USOC or CCL, and then end up in the minors. With an EU passport I can’t believe that’s a superior outcome to staying in his English niche.


  • slowleftarm

    In any event, I hope our summer signings include more than some guy who couldn’t make it at Scunthrope.


  • THomas

    In biggest MLS news in a while, maybe since Beckham, Dempsey is going to the Sounders.


  • matt

    The thing with the loan of CJ, is he was out of form in KC was being left off the bench, Dwyer was tearing it up. So Dwyer is recalled, For a stretch where KC had alot of players on Nats duty (6) and many games. Then Orlando had a crazy 4 games in 13 days, they needed help so CJ, who at that time was benched , got sent down. He played in 3 of those games earned them PK, scored, and assisted. He was recalled because OC had a break in their schedule and there were MLS games to be had, plus there was the allstar break in KC where he participated in a ton of events, including the lauch of his new t-shirt line, LBF. Now after the break OC needs help again with their schedule, and then KC needs him back for Champions League depth.

    If it weren’t for schedule congestion, and a successful loanee being recalled we wouldn’t be seeing so much movement.


  • Mike R

    Anyone remember when all those people were posting about how Leeds would be great for Grellas career? Remember him saying the same and anyone who doubted didn’t know anything about soccer or something to that effect?

    How’d that work out?

    Resigned to having to try out for one of the crappiest teams in MLS


  • Del P 23

    Sounders get Deuce and we get Mike Grella??? I’m so done with this team. Cosmos, please.


  • mgrich

    Love the signing of Erik Palmer-Brown with Sporting KC. He’s awfully young but has some solid CB’s to learn from ahead of him so there is no pressure and he’s got time to learn. Keep it up Sporting!


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