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MLS Ticker: RSL re-signs Baird, Adi reportedly claimed by Crew, and more

Corey Baird is remaining with Real Salt Lake for the near future.

The club re-signed the versatile forward to a four-year contract on Friday. Baird has not only improved as a talented young player in MLS, but a valuable prospect with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

“Corey’s versatility in the attack and work rate make him an important piece to our roster, so keeping him here long-term was on our to-do list over the off-season,” RSL General Manager Elliot Fall said.  “We take pride in the work our staff has done in aiding his development and we are eager to see where his continue doing development can take him.

Baird has scored 13 goals and registered nine assists in 62 career regular season appearances.  In 2018, he led all rookies in scoring with eight goals and adding five assists in 31 appearances. He was later voted the 2018 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year.  He followed that up in 2019 with five goals and four assists in 31 appearances.

In four career playoff appearances, he has one assist, that coming on the opening goal in a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers in the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.

“I’m happy to sign with Real Salt Lake long-term,” Baird said.  “Knowing the club has put this trust in me and showing they value me as a player feels really good and I’m hoping I can repay them for their trust and the fans for their support.”

Internationally, Baird has earned four caps with the USMNT, registering one assist.

Report: Adi claimed off waivers by Crew

Fanendo Adi is reportedly on his way to the Columbus Crew.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Friday that Adi was claimed off waivers by the Eastern Conference side. He is not officially on the Crew’s roster yet after being placed on waivers by FC Cincinnati in late December.

Joining FC Cincinnati in 2019, Adi only scored one goal in 12 games, before being cited for OVI by the Ohio State Highway Patrol and publicly voicing his disapproval with the club’s management.

The MLS veteran played with current Crew head coach Caleb Porter during their time together with the Portland Timbers from 2014-17′. Adi scored 52 goals in 117 appearances with the Timbers during that time, helping the club win MLS Cup in 2015.

Rivals in the Eastern Conference, both FC Cincinnati and the Crew struggled in 2019 and will look for bounce back seasons in 2020.

Should Adi join the Crew, he will look to pair with USMNT veteran Gyasi Zardes in the attack.

Atlanta United loans out Carleton

Andrew Carleton is heading out on loan from Atlanta United.

The club sent the midfielder to USL side Indy Eleven on Friday for the upcoming 2020 season. It will mark Carleton’s second loan away from the 2018 MLS Champions.

“We believe it is time for Andrew to challenge himself in a new environment,” Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. “We remain optimistic about his future and are looking forward to seeing what he will accomplish with Indy.”

The 19-year-old was the club’s first Homegrown signing and since has made 11 MLS appearances across three seasons. Over the past two seasons, Carleton has made 29 appearances with ATL UTD 2 in USL Championship play where he totaled seven goals and four assists.

A promising U.S. Soccer youth prospect, Carleton made two appearances for the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team in 2019.

Union re-sign veteran midfielder Ilsinho

The Philadelphia Union retained the services of a key veteran for 2020.

Brazilian winger/midfielder Ilsinho re-signed with the club on Friday, remaining with the club on a one-year deal. He was key off the bench in numerous matches for Jim Curtin’s side in 2019, helping the Union earn their first-ever playoff win.

“We are pleased to have come to an agreement with Ilsinho and welcome him back to our roster for the 2020 season,” Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner said. “His footwork and ability to press and possess on the attack are unmatched and proved to be crucial to our successful 2019 season, as they have over the last four seasons with the club. We look forward to what his continued leadership and skill will bring to our midfield this season.”

Ilsinho made an MLS career-high 28 appearances for the Union during the 2019 season, adding five goals and eight assists in that time. His eight assists tied for third most on the team and were also a career high for the midfielder. He appeared in both of the Union’s playoff matches, including the club’s historic home playoff win over the New York Red Bulls.

Ilsinho’s 2019 season was marked by a memorable two-goals, one-assist game vs. the rival New York Red Bulls. His three-point game pulled the team out of a two-goal deficit and led to an eventual 3-2 victory. The Union had a +24 goal differential when Ilsinho was on the field, with most of his contributions coming as a substitute (seven of his eight assists, and three of his five goals), earning him the title of supersub. Down by a goal, Ilsinho was subbed on ahead of the Union’s regulation and overtime goals that led to their first-ever playoff win.

The Brazilian is one of the key returning offensive players for the Eastern Conference side in 2020.

Impact re-acquire promising forward Okwonkwo on loan

Orji Okwonkwo is returning to the Montreal Impact on loan for the 2020 season.

The club re-acquired Okwonkwo for the upcoming season from Italian side Bologna, with an option to purchase the Nigerian at the end of the loan. Okwonkwo, 22, returns for his second spell with the Impact after being named the club’s Most Valuable Player in 2019, receiving the Giuseppe-Saputo Trophy.

“Orji was one of the most efficient players on our roster last season,” Impact sporting director Olivier Renard said. “We are very happy to see him return for another season after watching him gain MLS and youth national team experience in 2019.”

Okwonkwo finished the year with eight goals, the highest total for a player in his first year with the club since Didier Drogba scored 11 in 2015. He added two assists in 28 games with the Impact.

Okwonkwo also won the 2019 Canadian Championship, appearing in four games during the tournament. He will now look for continued early success under first-year head coach Thierry Henry.

Rodriguez mutually parts ways with Minnesota United

Angelo Rodriguez is leaving Minnesota United.

The club and players mutually agreed to part ways on Friday, after the Loons exercised an offseason Buyout of a Guaranteed Contract on the player. Rodriguez will now return to his native Colombia to join Deportivo Cali.

Rodríguez joined the Loons in July of 2018 as the club’s second Designated Player. He finished out the year with four goals and one assist in his 11 appearances.

In 2019, Rodríguez scored five goals and provided a pair of assists in league action. He recorded the club’s first-ever U.S. Open Cup hat trick as part of a 6-1 win against New Mexico United.

The 30-year-old however saw his playing time drop with the emergence of young forward Mason Toye.

Dynamo sign veteran goalkeeper Cropper

The Houston Dynamo have added veteran goalkeeper Cody Cropper to the team ahead of the upcoming season.

Cropper makes the switch to Houston after spending the last four seasons with the New England Revolution. The 26-year-old finished with 102 saves in 36 matches for the club.

“Cody brings valuable MLS, European and National Team experience that will strengthen our goalkeeping corps and the squad as a whole as we prepare for the upcoming season,” Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan said. “We believe that creating competition at every position on the roster is vital to a team’s success, and we are confident that Cody will continue to develop under our staff to help push us toward our goals for this season.”

Prior to make his move to MLS in 2016, Cropper spent six years in England. He is a product of the Ipswich Town Academy and spent three seasons with Southampton F.C. as they returned to the English Premier League for the first time since 2005. The shot-stopper joined MK Dons in the English Championship after his spell with Southampton and made nine appearances during the 2015-2016 season.

Cropper becomes the Dynamo’s 26th player on the first team roster.

Timbers sign midfielder Bodily to Homegrown Contract

The Portland Timbers made a Homegrown signing on Friday.

Midfielder Blake Bodily signed with the club, becoming the third prospect of the Timbers Academy program to sign a Homegrown deal since 2011.

“We are excited to add a talented Homegrown player to the club in Blake,” Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson said. “He already has experience playing with T2 during his time with the academy, and has excelled in his development at the collegiate level. Blake will start with T2 with an opportunity to earn first-team minutes. We’re happy for Blake and his family and look forward to his continued growth as he begins his professional career.”

The 22-year-old played three collegiate seasons at the University of Washington (2017-19), where he tallied 17 goals and 18 assists in 56 games played. In his junior campaign in 2019, Bodily tallied 12 goals and six assists in 19 appearances (16 starts) en route to being named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and earning United Soccer Coaches First-Team All-American honors.

He will now try to earn first-team minutes in a talented Timbers midfield.

Orlando City adds former midfielder Antonio Nocerino to coaching staff

The Orlando City Development Academy has added a former midfielder to its coaching staff.

Antonio Nocerino joined the club on Friday, a day after announcing his retirement from playing. The 34-year-old totaled 484 career professional appearances in his career which saw stints with Juventus, AC Milan, Palermo, and West Ham United.

“We are very happy and proud that Antonio has chosen Orlando City to start his coaching career. Hopefully, we can help him to grow in the profession but, also, he will be great for our players because he will be able to transmit all of his knowledge as a player to help them develop,” Orlando City Development Academy Director Marcelo Neveleff said. “But, even though Antonio had a decorated playing career, we are also looking forward to helping him grow and learn as a coach so he can best help shape the next generation of players.”

Nocerino will join the Development Academy as the head coach for the Orlando City U-15 side, while serving as an assistant coach for the U-17s. The 34-year-old made 55 appearances as a player for the Lions in all competitions from 2016-17′.

“I am a proud Italian but Orlando is my home. I am thankful for the opportunities Orlando City has given me, both as a player and now as a coach,” Nocerino said. “My idea is to grow step-by-step. I made the decision to become a coach, obtained by UEFA B license and am now working on my UEFA A. I want to work with the Orlando City Academy, get as much experience as I can with the objective in mind to grow, get more coaching licenses and one day be ready for the challenge of being a professional head coach. I am very excited for this new opportunity.”

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