The wait is over for Portland Timbers fans as Diego Valeri is staying put.
Valeri and the Timbers agreed to a multi-year contract on Monday, keeping him in Portland for the near future. Since joining the club in 2013, Valeri is the team’s leader in goals (76), assists (81). and points (233).
“Diego is a Timbers legend and we couldn’t be happier that he and his family will remain in the Rose City,” Gavin Wilkinson, general manager and president of soccer for the Timbers said. “Not only has Diego been a leader in MLS over his career, he has become a local icon who is tremendously important to the club, the fans and the City of Portland. We look forward to raising another Cup with him.”
The Argentine has won one MLS MVP (2017) and has been named to three MLS Best XI’s (2013, 2014, 2017). Valeri made 31 regular-season appearances in 2019, tallying eight goals and 16 assists. He broke the club record for most assists in a single season.
“I am happy to extend my contract with the Portland Timbers,” Valeri said. “I would like to thank all the people involved to make it happen as I always expected. I have a special mention for Florencia, Connie and our fans who have warmly supported me throughout the years. It’s an immense honor to play for them.”
The Timbers aim to get back to the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2020, after being eliminated in the first round in 2019.
Whitecaps acquire Canadian striker Lucas Cavallini
After much speculation on his future, Lucas Cavallini is on his way to MLS.
The Vancouver Whitecaps ended their chase for the Canadian striker on Monday, acquiring him from Liga MX side Puebla on a club-record transfer fee. Cavallini has signed a Designated Player contract with the Whitecaps through 2022 with an option for 2023.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lucas and his family to our club and our city,” Whitecaps FC sporting director Axel Schuster said. “We’ve followed his career closely for a number of years. He has enjoyed a lot of success playing in two of the most difficult leagues in the Americas, is an important member of Canada’s resurgence on the international scene, and now we are happy to welcome him to the Whitecaps.”
The 26-year-old Cavallini, who turns 27 later this month, played the last two-and-a-half seasons with Puebla. In that time, he scored 29 goals and added eight assists in 81 appearances across all competitions. He’s also played for Nacional, Fenix, and Penarol.
“We’ve been looking for a forward with the characteristics of Lucas,” Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos said. “Lucas is committed when the team doesn’t have the ball, and at the same time he’s very hungry to get in the box and make a difference in the attacking half. He has the right mentality and qualities on and off the pitch. Lucas will bring a lot to our team and are very happy to have him join our club.”
Cavallini has earned 17 caps with the Canadian Men’s National Team, scoring 11 goals since making his debut in 2012. He scored eight goals in seven matches for Canada this calendar year, helping them to a first win over the U.S. Men’s National Team since 1985.
The Whitecaps missed the playoffs in 2019, but will look to bounce back under Dos Santos.
LAFC bolsters midfield with signing of Uruguayan playmaker Ginella
LAFC added another young midfielder to the mix on Monday ahead of the 2020 MLS season.
The club signed Uruguayan midfielder Francisco Ginella from Montevideo Wanderers with the use of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) on Monday. Ginella will join LAFC ahead of the 2020 MLS season and will occupy an international roster spot.
“At just 20 years old, Francisco brings a meaningful amount of experience at the professional and youth international levels,” LAFC EVP & General Manager John Thorrington said. “It is exciting for our club to sign a player of his quality and potential, and we are confident Francisco will prove to be a great fit for LAFC as we look ahead to our third season.”
Ginella, 20, made 18 appearances across all three domestic tournaments for Montevideo in 2019, tallying one goal and one assist. He made the move from Racing Club in 2018. After making 14 appearances for the Uruguay U-20 Men’s National Team over the last two years, Ginella has currently been training with the U-23’s ahead of the Conmebol Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Jan-Feb 2020.
He has also been international teammates with current LAFC winger Brian Rodriguez.
FC Dallas’ Ferreira obtains U.S. citizenship
FC Dallas announced on Monday that forward Jesus Ferreira has officially received United States citizenship.
The 18-year-old moved to the United States in 2009 from Colombia and is now eligible to play for either the USMNT or Colombia. Ferreira has been called up the U.S. Youth National Team camps, but was not allowed to play in matches due to not having citizenship in the country.
“I’m happy,” Ferreira said to FC Dallas’ website. “I’m happy that now I can represent a country. For a long time, in my head I was trying to represent Colombia but never go the opportunity to get a call up. But now that I’ve become a U.S. citizen, I’ll get more call ups to the [US] national team and I’m happy because I want to represent a country. I’ve been living here for a while now, so I feel like this is my home.”
Ferreira enjoyed a breakout 2019 with Dallas, scoring eight goals and adding six assists in 33 regular-season games. Luchi Gonzalez’s side opens the 2020 MLS season at home on Feb. 29th against the Philadelphia Union.
Real Salt Lake retain veteran defender Donny Toia
Donny Toia is remaining with Real Salt Lake for the 2020 MLS season.
The club announced the move Monday, which keeps the RSL Academy product with the club for his third season overall. Toia, 27, made 24 regular season appearances for RSL in 2019, scoring one goal and registering one assist.
“Donny is a player who has been a part of the RSL family since he was a standout youth player in Arizona. He’s proven himself a steady, reliable performer and someone who we can count on to bring professionalism and hard work, day in and day out,” RSL General Manager Elliot Fall said. “We are very happy to know that we can extend his time with the club for several more years to come.”
Toia made his MLS debut in 2014 with then-Chivas USA and in total has made 123 league appearances. He’s also featured in the Concacaf Champions League, while also seeing with the Montreal Impact and Orlando City.
“Donny was very consistent for us and helped solidify the back line to help make us one of the best defenses in the league,” RSL Head Coach Freddy Juarez said. “He earned his spot by putting his head down and working and every day he was consistent.”
RSL reached the Western Conference semifinals on the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, before being eliminated by the Seattle Sounders.
Nashville SC adds Colombian youth defender Mina
Nashville SC continued bolstering its roster ahead of its MLS debut in 2020.
The club announced the signing of defender Miguel Ángel Nazarit Mina to an MLS contract on Monday. Nazarit will join Nashville in Jan. 2020 from his current club, Once Caldas after being signed with Targeted Allocation Money.
Born on Cali, Colombia, Nazarit is in third season with Once Caldas of the Colombian First Division. The 22-year-old has made 39 appearances with the club since making his debut back in 2017.
“Miguel is a talented central defender who has gained outstanding experience playing in the top-flight in Colombia,” Nashville SC GM Mike Jacobs said. “His combination of athleticism and 1 v 1 defending makes him someone who has the potential to be a key contributor in our team.”
Nazarit was called into a Colombian U-23 Men’s National Team camp last July and will hope to be a part of the CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament which begins Jan. 18th, 2020.