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MLS Ticker: LAFC trigger Blessing’s option, NYCFC sign Mackay-Steven, and more

Latif Blessing has been influential in LAFC’s success in 2019 and the forward will now be staying with the club next season.

The club announced on Monday they’ve triggered Blessing’s contract option for 2020, keeping him in Los Angeles. Blessing, 22, has scored two goals and added five assists in 16 appearances so far this campaign. After being used primarily on the wing in the past, Blessing has seen more time in midfield.

“Latif has proven to be a great fit for us on and off the field,” LAFC GM & EVP John Thorrington said. “He is an exciting young player who continues to improve, and we look forward to his continued contributions in the coming seasons.”

Blessing was acquired by LAFC during the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft. His debut season with the team saw him score five goals and add six assists in 30 appearances.

LAFC are currently atop the league standings and return to league play this weekend.

NYCFC signs Gary Mackay-Steven from Aberdeen

Gary Mackay-Steven has officially signed with NYCFC.

The club announced the news on Monday as the 28-year-old joins from Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen. His contract expired with the Scottish club and although the Dons were eager to re-sign him, Mackay-Steven expressed his interest to move to MLS.

“I’m delighted to finally sign on the dotted line,” Mackay-Steven said. “I can’t wait to hit the ground running and make my debut in the blue shirt. I can’t wait to show what I can do to the fans in Yankee Stadium.”

Mackay-Steven will be eligible to play for NYCFC on July 9th, when the league’s secondary transfer window opens. The left-footed winger has appeared for Celtic, Aberdeen, Dundee United, and Airdrie United during his career so far. He’s also won two caps with the Scottish National Team.

Ezequiel Barco out two weeks for Atlanta United

Ezequiel Barco is expected to miss at least two weeks for the defending MLS champions.

Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer confirmed to reporters on Monday that Barco suffered a knee injury during the Five Stripes U.S. Open Cup win last week in Columbus. It is similar to Hector Villalba’s current injury, but not as severe.

“Maybe it’s a red card in any country, only here [in Major League Soccer], no,” Leandro Gonzalez Pirez told Pro Soccer USA on Monday.

Barco has four goals and three assists for the Five Stripes in all competitions this season. He recently returned from international duty with Argentina at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland as well.

The positive though for Atlanta United is Julian Gressel did return to full training on Monday. Gressel did not feature in U.S. Open Cup matches in June due to muscle tightness and was given extra rest by de Boer to recover.

Report: FC Dallas’ Gruezo linked with move to FC Augsburg

Carlos Gruezo has become a regular for FC Dallas, but the midfielder is reportedly linked with a move to Germany.

According to Ecuadorian radio program Area Deportiva FM, the native country of Gruezo, the 24-year-old is set to sign a four-year deal with Bundesliga outfit FC Augsburg. Augsburg finished 15th in 2018-19, fighting for another year in Germany’s top-flight.

Gruezo has made 98 regular-season appearances for FC Dallas since joining from VfB Stuttgart back in 2016. He’s also played for Barcelona SC and Independiente DV in his professional career.

Currently on international duty with Ecuador at the 2019 Copa America, Gruezo will hope to play a part in La Tri’s final group stage match on Monday against Japan.


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