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MLS Ticker: Altidore reportedly still an option for East Final, Parkhurst returns to training, and more

Jozy Altidore’s status has not yet been ruled out for Toronto FC’s trip to Atlanta United on Wednesday.

According to TSN, Altidore stayed late in Toronto for an MRI but is still in consideration to play off the bench against the Five Stripes with an MLS Cup berth at stake. TFC head coach Greg Vanney admitted that Altidore is not fit to start Wednesday’s Eastern Conference Final, but is still fighting for a spot on the bench to start.

As for veteran defender Omar Gonzalez, he is healthy to start if needed for TFC. TFC posted a 7-1-6 record in the 14 matches that Gonzalez appeared in this season, while Altidore scored 11 goals and registered seven assists in 22 regular season matches.

Toronto FC will remain on the road for the length of the playoffs, even if they win on Wednesday.

Michael Parkhurst returns to Atlanta United training

Michael Parkhurst returned to Atlanta United training on Monday in hopes of returning this postseason.

Parkhurst suffered a dislocated shoulder in the Five Stripes 1-0 Eastern Conference playoff win over the New England Revolution on Oct. 19th, but since has been sidelined. The captain’s availability for Wednesday’s Eastern Conference Final against TFC is still uncertain.

“We have to wait,” Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer told reporters. “He’s on the field. That’s promising. Still have to do some tests, but he’s looking good.”

The 35-year-old will be retiring at the end of the season, but could still have plenty to offer the Five Stripes this season.

With fellow centerback Miles Robinson ruled out, Parkhurst could start next to Leandro Gonzalez Pirez in defense if healthy, but if he is unavailable then Florentin Pogba is the likely replacement.

Report: Acosta not returning to D.C. United after contract expires

Luciano Acosta is not returning to D.C. United after his contract has expired with the club.

According to The Athletic, Acosta is leaving the club this offseason with a destination yet to be determined. Acosta, originally joined the club on-loan from Boca Juniors before making his move official in Nov. 2016.

During his time with the Black and Red, Acosta totaled 24 goals and 35 assists in 127 combined league appearances. 2019 saw Acosta total his fewest points in MLS, only recording six goals and two assists in 31 appearances.

Acosta was linked with a move to Ligue 1 giants PSG last year, but the deal failed through prior to the closure of the Winter Transfer Window. He was unable to help D.C. United avoid a first round exit in the MLS Cup Playoffs to Toronto FC.

Ike Opara, Michael Boxall sign new deals with Minnesota United

Minnesota United have locked up a pair of their top defenders, including the current MLS Defender of the Year.

The club announced Tuesday that Ike Opara and Michael Boxall have agreed to new contracts. Both defenders helped the Loons complete one of the top defensive turnarounds in MLS this season, conceding only 43 goals and pitching 11 clean sheets.

Opara played in 31 matches for the Loons this season, including every match in the U.S. Open Cup. He recorded a career-high three goals this season, while lifting the MLS Defender of the Year award for the second time in his career.

“We’re obviously delighted we managed to tie the pair of them down. Anybody who’s watched us on a regular basis will understand the commitment and the level of performance that Ike and [Boxall] have done,” MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath said. “Early on through the year, it became very clear that we wanted to move forward with these two guys. It’s an area of the field we feel we’re very blessed with really good players. It’s been a great year for [Ike and Michael], obviously culminating in Ike winning Defender of the Year but I think that easily could have been Boxy with the level of performance that he’s done.”

“They’re both a manager’s dream, both come in everyday, do the work, great professionals on and off the field and great teammates. This is just reward for all the hard work they’ve put in over the last 12 months or 18 months for Boxy. Delighted they’re going to be around and really pleased they’re going to be here as teammates and pillars for what we’re trying to build for the future.”

Boxall, 31, made 29 appearances in the Loons backline this season, scoring two goals while starring next to Opara. He’s won 32 caps with he New Zealand Men’s National Team, captaining the side for the first time in March 2018.

With both defenders locked up, the Loons will try for an even better campaign in 2020.

Former D.C. United, Union, Galaxy midfielder Chris Pontius announces retirement

Chris Pontius is hanging up his playing boots.

The longtime MLS midfielder announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending a 10-year career. Pontius was drafted No. 7 overall by D.C. United in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft and went on to play seven seasons for the club.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have played the sport I love during the last 11 years,” Pontius said. “The game has given so much to me and as I look back on my time in Major League Soccer, I am filled with pride in not only what I accomplished during my career, but also for being a part of the growth of this league from when I joined it in 2009.

He later moved to the Philadelphia Union in 2016, eventually winning MLS Comeback Player of the Year after scoring 12 goals that season. Pontius played one additional season in Philly, before arriving with the L.A. Galaxy in 2018. With L.A., Pontius recorded seven goals and nine assists in 44 appearances.

In total, Pontius made 266 combined MLS appearances, scoring 53 goals and adding 38 assists. He also won five caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

FC Dallas announces 2020 roster moves

FC Dallas announced their end-of-season roster moves on Tuesday, picking up the options on 10 players while declining the options on three.

Among those players who will return in 2020 are regular starters Reggie Cannon, Jesus Ferreira, Matt Hedges, and Dominique Badji. Michael Barrios, Jacori Hayes, Jimmy Maurer, Callum Montgomery, Bryan Reynolds, and Kyle Zobeck also saw their options picked up for next season.

Cristian Colman, Edwan Gyasi, and Moises Hernandez will not be returning to the club after seeing their options declined. MLS veteran Eric Alexander is also out of contract, with no word on whether or not he will be in talks with the club on re-signing.

FC Dallas squeaked into the MLS Cup Playoffs, but was eliminated by the Seattle Sounders in the opening round.

Reports: Atlanta United considering the launch of an NWSL team

Atlanta United are reportedly considering the launch of a professional women’s team to compete in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and Sports Illustrated, Atlanta is aiming to have the team begin play in 2021. Should it happen, the Five Stripes would join a lengthy list of MLS teams that operate NWSL sides including; Houston, Orlando, Portland, and Utah.

“We’ve had very preliminary discussions with the National Women’s Soccer League about a possible franchise in Atlanta,” Brett Jewkes, chief communications officer for Arthur M. Blank Sports and Entertainment, the Five Stripes’ parent company, told the AJC’s Doug Roberson in an email on Monday.

“We are evaluating a wide-range of factors to review and consider with no definitive timetable to complete that process. The growing success and appeal of women’s soccer in America, both at the professional and amateur levels, is exciting and certainly worthy of our careful exploration.”

The NWSL launched in 2013 with eight teams currently taking part. Louisville City announced they would operate a team beginning in 2021, while fellow MLS expansion side Sacramento Republic also have been mentioned to eventually operate a team.






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