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Joya signs with MLS, allocated to Fire in lottery

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While a handful of players left Major League Soccer this offseason for warmer pastures in Liga MX, one player is heading north of the border in search of playing time.

Former U.S. Under-20 midfielder Benjamin “Benji” Joya has signed with MLS on loan with an option to buy from Santos Laguna and will enter a weighted lottery to determine which club he goes to, a league spokesperson told SBI. The Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders, and Real Salt Lake have all entered the lottery. (UPDATE: The Fire announced this afternoon that they won the lottery and have acquired Joya.)

“Benji is a talented, young player,” Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop said in a club statement. “He has international experience and will be a great addition as we continue to build and strengthen our squad.”

The Fire had the best odds to acquire Joya, with a 68 percent chance, followed by the Sounders with 29 percent and RSL with only a three percent chance. The lottery will be conducted on Wednesday and the team that acquires the San Jose, Calif. will make a formal announcement.

Joya, 20, has been a regular for the Santos Laguna Under-20 team since he became a professional in 2011, but he’s had a tough time cracking the first-team lineup for league games. Joya made four appearances in the 2012 Apertura season but otherwise has been out of the game day squad.

This season, Joya made two substitute appearances for  Santos in Copa MX and since the start of the 2013/2014 season has played with the U-20s 11 times, scoring three goals.

Joya was a key member of the U.S. U-20s that went to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup last year. He played 11 times in official competitions, captaining the side in the semifinals and finals of the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and scored a penalty kick goal in the final against Mexico to tie the match, though Mexico went on to win on home soil.


What do you think of this news? Excited to hear Joya come to MLS? Do you expect him to see more playing time here rather than in Mexico?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. why the hell didnt DC enter this lottery?


    we go after ruiz and doyle but skip all the real talent that comes back to MLS

  2. I read Argentinean midfielder Agustin Pelletieri has signed with MLS but doesn’t know where he will play. Does he enter a lottery too? cause I read some teams like Chivas USA and Timbers are making moves for him.

    • He’ll only have to go through allocation if the league didn’t pay for his transfer fee. If paid by the club the. He’ll have to go through allocation until he lands with the team that the league approves.

      • Hm. It seems he agreed to break contract with Racing Club on his own, so that may be why he is still not allocated.

  3. The next player will have to go through the Garber double-secret probation weighted allocation lottery pool draft waiver procedure. I think.

    • +1, turns out designated players don’t have to go through allocation but designated players do have to. Also, if you’re not a designated player you don’t have to go through allocation except for instances when you do have to. Returning international players apps don’t have to go through the allocation process except when they go through a lottery which can only be entered in to by select few teams.

  4. There are so many reasons why teams might not enter this lottery–salary cap considerations, depth at a position, not rating the player, waiting for another player to pop up. I would love for the Sounders to get him because they don’t have much depth or creativity at his position. They could also afford to bring him along slowly.
    SJ might be kicking themselves a bit, because he would have been a great fit.

  5. Has this been confirmed as a season long loan with an option to buy or what? Does anyone know that? He is a real talent so this could be big for whoever lands him

    • This is another one of those odd loan arrangements. Joya’s supposed to be good and it’s unlikely he makes the NT and levers up his price. So why not buy now? We’ll outright sign GA college kids but not Joya? It feels like a financial punt because on sports grounds he’s too good to be this tenative.

  6. I wonder what kind of salary he will be on. Given his potential, I’m surprised the Galaxy didn’t try to land him so they could loan him to Galaxy II.

    • Can you even read? The top of the list is the Fire. Also who knows where the Sounders would be if all the teams actually entered.

      • Can read just fine, can you?

        How is Seattle even allowed to enter a lottery for a player like this after what they’ve done recently. How can they possibly have a 29% chance of landing ANOTHER player after allocation and magical DP nonsense.

        And there is no top of the list, that’s why it’s a lottery.

      • Top of the list = highest percentage to land a player in this draft which is in fact the Fire.

        The DP thing has literally no bearing on anything happening this year, get that through your mind. The order of all this is determined by where they finish at the end of the year. I don’t know this particular lottery that well but the one that allowed them to get Pappa was extremely straight forward. Chivas had the number 2 pick, they traded that and Bowen for Rosales which is how Seattle had it. Not difficult to figure out at all.

      • Yeah, but you and I both know that the League doesn’t want him to end up in Chicago. Everyone knows he’s going to end up in Seattle through their “magical” system.

      • Im a Seattle fan but more importantly a fan of US players so I hope he ends up somewhere that he’ll get consistent playing time. I have been impressed when I’ve seen him play.

      • After the EJ debacle of a player coming back whom no one wants at the contract price — made available in a similar process – I assume they now probably ensure that the participating teams in the draft or lottery are committed to buying at some price if they win. So only the interested teams participate, and if Seattle is repeatedly throwing themselves in that sounds like they are player shopping.

    • right! why is it always a couple of teams!!! usually these 3 too!

      why doesn’t San Jose go for him?

      why can’t the other teams participate?

      EDIT: San Jose cannot enter another weighted lottery this year because they won the lottery for forward Billy Schuler last month.

      • San Jose can’t participate because they won the lottery for Schuler. Once a team wins a lottery for a player, they can no longer participate in future lotteries for a certain period of time (maybe for the season).

      • Other teams can participate, they have just chosen not to in hopes of a different player being in one of these later or because Joya wouldn’t fit on their roster. SJ is the only team not eligible as far as I know

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