MLS Ticker: Billionaire invests in Fire, Mullins traded to Crew, and more

MLS Ticker: Billionaire invests in Fire, Mullins traded to Crew, and more

Major League Soccer

MLS Ticker: Billionaire invests in Fire, Mullins traded to Crew, and more

For the first time since 2007, the Chicago Fire have a new investor in the club.

Morningstar Founder and Chairman Joe Mansueto has joined the ownership group with the Fire after acquiring a 49% stake in the team, the team announced on Wednesday.

Mansueto will become the Vice Chairman of the team and represent the Fire on the MLS Board of Governors as an Alternate Governor, while owner Andrew Hauptman will remain the team’s official chairman, controlling shareholder, and the Club’s Governor on the Board of Governors.

Mansueto founded Morningstar, a leading investment research firm back in 1984 and stepped down as CEO of the company in 2016.

“Andrew has assembled a top-tier management team and dramatically increased the profile of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Major League Soccer and the game overall in the Chicago area,” Mansueto said. “I’m incredibly excited to partner with him to build on the Club’s achievements. Soccer is a phenomenal game that continues to grow rapidly in the U.S. and around the word. I’m pleased to help fulfill the vision of bringing this premier team to the forefront of soccer in our country.”

FIRE SEAL PERMANENT MOVE FOR KATAI

The Chicago Fire have been able to secure the transfer of one of their dangerous playmakers this season.

Serbian midfielder Aleksandar Katai is officially under contract with the Fire through 2019, with a club option for 2020 the team reported Wednesday. Katai joined Chicago on-loan from Alaves of the Spanish La Liga back in February and has made a quick impact in MLS.

Katai is tied for the team-lead with eight goals in his 18 appearances this season, while also registering three assists. The 27-year-old has also seen time with Red Star Belgrade, Vojvodina, and Platanias during his domestic career. He also has earned six caps with the Serbian National Team since 2015.

Despite some criticism at times by head coach Veljko Paunovic, Katai has certainly been a key offensive player for Chicago in 2018. The Fire return to action on Wednesday at home against the Philadelphia Union.

CREW ACQUIRE PATRICK MULLINS IN TRADE WITH D.C. UNITED

The Columbus Crew have added a veteran striker to their roster on Wednesday, acquiring Patrick Mullins in a trade with D.C. United.

Mullins, 26, has been exchanged for $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), the Crew announced. He is a five-year MLS veteran who has also spent time with the New England Revolution and New York City FC in his career.

In his 96 regular-season appearances, Mullins has registered 23 goals and nine assists but only five in his last 30 appearances in total. He was drafted 11th overall by New England back in 2014, but has found it tough of late to score goals. His most notable appearance of late was a four-goal outing in a 31-minute span against San Jose on Sept. 23rd, 2017 as D.C. routed the Quakes 4-0.

“Patrick is a proven goal-scorer who is dangerous inside the box and has a solid track record in MLS in his first five seasons,” said Crew head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said. “We believe that he brings a valuable skill set that will allow him to add depth to our attack and we look forward to integrating him into the team.”

Up next for the Crew is a showdown with NYCFC at Yankee Stadium on July 14th.

TORONTO FC LOANS AGER AKETXE TO SPANISH SECOND-TIER SIDE CADIZ

Ager Aketxe has found it tough for playing time in 2018, ultimately seeing the midfielder sent out on loan.

Toronto FC have loaned Aketxe to Spanish second-tier side Cadiz, the club announced Wednesday afternoon. Aketxe, 24, joined TFC in 2018 from La Liga outfit Athletic Bilbao, but has only made 14 appearances between both MLS and the Concacaf Champions League.

Aketxe spent four seasons with Bilbao from 2014-18, also going out on loan to Cadiz in 2017.

“At this time, we feel it’s in the best interests of both parties to do this loan, Toronto FC Sr. Vice President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said. “Adjusting to MLS is different for everyone and the Champions League added a new element in this particular situation compared to a standard preseason. We wish him the best during the loan.”

Cadiz are coming off a ninth-place finish in 2018-18, registering 64 points in 42 matches.

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