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MLS Ticker: Crew reportedly chasing Zelarayan, Yarbrough linked with move to Dynamo, and more

The Columbus Crew are reportedly chasing a new attacking midfielder heading into the 2020 MLS season.

The Crew are after Liga MX midfielder Lucas Zelarayan, according to a report by Mexican outlet Medio Tiempo. The Crew are ready to pay around $8 million for the Tigres playmaker, according to the report.

Zelarayan, 27, joined Tigres from Belgrano in 2016 and has totaled 139 appearances for the Liga MX giants. During that time Zelarayan has scored 23 goals and registered 14 assists, winning three Liga MX titles and the 2018 Campeones Cup over Toronto FC.

The Crew are in search of a new playmaker following the retirement of Federico Higuain this offseason. Due to Higuain’s lengthy injury in 2019, Pedro Santos was forced to play in a more central role for Caleb Porter’s side.

Columbus missed out on the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, but retain several key players such as Gyasi Zardes, Will Trapp, and Santos, and have added star midfielder Darlington Nagbe this offseason.

Report: Yarbrough linked to Dynamo

Former U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper William Yarbrough is linked with a move to MLS.

The Club Leon keeper is being watched by the Houston Dynamo this offseason, according to ESPN. Yarbrough, currently the No. 2 at Leon, has made 192 appearances for the club since arriving in 2012. He has also played with Tampico Madero and Titanes Tulancingo on separate loan spells.

Club Leon are also linked with a move for Mexican goalkeeper Sebastian Fassi, which would see Yarbrough fighting heavy competition for minutes. Rodolfo Cota has earned the bulk of the minutes in the recent Apertura season, with Yarbrough only making two appearances.

The 30-year-old has made three appearances for the USMNT, while also winning a pair of Liga MX titles. Yarbrough’s arrival to the Dynamo would give new head coach Tab Ramos a veteran option in goal with only Michael Nelson as the only rostered goalkeeper.

Report: Fire closing in on new sporting director

Georg Heitz is reportedly close to joining the Chicago Fire.

Heitz is finalizing a deal with the MLS club after interviewing last week to become their new Sporting Director, according to a report by The Athletic. Heitz was the Sporting Director of Swiss side FC Basel from 2009-17.

During his time in Switzerland, Heitz won eight consecutive league titles in the Swiss Pro League, as well as three Swiss Cups. Prior to his job at Basel, Heitz worked for FIFA. Basel featured the likes of Mohamed Salah, Ivan Rakitic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Yann Sommer and other stars during Heitz’s time there.

The Fire are currently without a head coach heading into 2020 and have three Designated Player slots open.

Impact re-sign Piette

The Montreal Impact have locked up their captain with a long-term contract.

Samuel Piette has signed a new three-year contract with the Impact, with an option also available for 2023. Piette has made 70 appearances for the Impact since joining in 2017, registering four assists,

“We are very happy, as he is, to have found an agreement that shows mutual respect, as there was interest from both sides to reach this conclusion,” Impact sporting director Olivier Renard said. “We wanted Samuel to stay with the club and I want to thank him to have trust in our project. He will be able to continue his contribution on and off the field.”

The 25-year-old has earned 46 appearances with the Canadian Men’s National Team, recording four assists. Along with MLS and the Canadian Championship, Piette has also appeared in World Cup Qualifying, the Concacaf Gold Cup, and Concacaf Nations League.

Piette became the first Impact player, excluding goalkeepers to play in every MLS regular season match in 2018. He made 25 league appearances for the Impact in 2019.

Crew acquire Dutch defender

The Columbus Crew added a 12-year European defender to the mix on Wednesday.

Caleb Porter’s side signed Dutch defender Vito Wormgoor, who will occupy an international roster spot. Wormgoor last played for SK Brann of the Norwegian top flight and has made 315 professional appearances overseas.

Wormgoor played with Brann from 2017-2019, serving as the club’s captain and making 86 appearances in the Eliteserien. He also played in the Europa League Qualifying Playoffs with Brann.

A 6-foot-2 centerback, the 31-year-old Wormgoor has also played for Aalesund, ADO Den Haag, FC Utrecht, and De Graafschap. Wormgoor’s arrival gives the Crew nine defenders on their current roster heading into 2020.

The Crew missed the MLS Cup playoffs in 2019 in Porter’s first season as head coach.

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