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MLS Ticker: Gressel signs long-term deal with D.C. United, Ibarra joins Sounders, and more

Julian Gressel has committed his future long-term with D.C. United following his move to the club earlier this offseason.

The Eastern Conference club announced Friday that Gressel signed a three-year guaranteed contract with a club option for a fourth year. D.C. United used Targeted Allocation Money to lock down Gressel, in which he is under contract through 2023.

“Agreeing to a long-term deal with Julian is a big step for our club as we continue to build a highly competitive roster in MLS,” Dave Kasper, D.C. United General Manager and VP of Soccer Operations said. “He is a young and extremely talented player who has already achieved a great amount in this league, and we’re excited to lock down his future with D.C. United.”

D.C. United acquired Gressel from Atlanta United back in January in exchange for $650,000 in 2020 Allocation Money and $100,000 in 2021 Allocation Money with additional compensation owed to Atlanta if incentives based on performance are met.

Since joining Atlanta United in 2017, Gressel has been a leader in assists across the league after recording 32 in 98 appearances (88 starts) since March  of that year. Gressel has scored 15 MLS Regular Season goals in addition to two goals in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with both coming last season against Philadelphia and Toronto.

“I’m excited to commit my future to the Black-and-Red and look forward to the beginning of a fruitful tenure in the nation’s capital,” Gressel, said. “D.C. United are a historic club in this league and I’m hoping that I can contribute to helping the team push towards bringing the MLS Cup back to the District and adding that fifth star to our kit. I can’t wait to get started and I’m eager to see the fans at Audi Field on Feb. 29 as we kickoff the season against Colorado. Vamos United!”

D.C. United opens the 2020 MLS season at Audi Field on Feb. 29th against the Colorado Rapids.

Sounders sign former Minnesota United midfielder Ibarra

The Seattle Sounders added MLS experience to its midfield for 2020.
Former Minnesota United midfielder Miguel Ibarra signed with the club on Thursday. Ibarra spent the last three seasons with the Loons, scoring 11 goals and 14 assists in 84 combined appearances for the club. He was on the bench for Thursday’s Concacaf Champions League 2-2 draw at Olimpia, but did not play.
“We are excited to welcome an experienced and versatile player like Miguel to the squad,” Sounders General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said. “His skillset gives us another good option in the attack as we prepare to start the 2020 campaign.”
Ibarra’s arrival gives Brian Schmetzer numerous options in midfield this season. The 29-year-old joins the likes of Cristian Roldan, Nicolas Lodeiro, Gustav Svensson, and Joao Paulo in the Sounders midfield corps.
He could make his debut for the club on Feb. 27th as the Sounders welcome Olimpia to CenturyLink Field. Seattle is tied 2-2 with the Honduran side, but currently hold the away goals tiebreaker.

Red Bulls extend Casseres’ contract after strong 2019 campaign

The New York Red Bulls reigning Defensive Player of the Year was rewarded with a new MLS contract.

Venezuelan midfielder Cristian Cásseres Jr. signed a new multi-year contract on Friday. The midfielder is set to begin his third season in New York with the club seeking a return to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

“Cristian took a big step forward last season, and I’m happy he is rewarded with a new contract,” Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas said. “Cristian has all the tools, physically and mentally, to continue to grow into an excellent player. He is fearless on the field and his worth ethic and determination to get better every day will continue to serve him and our club well.”

Casseres Jr, 20, made a strong impression with the first team in 2019, appearing in 23 games. He scored three goals and added four assists, helping the team back to the playoffs before a first round loss to the Philadelphia Union.

For his native Venezuela, Casseres Jr. most recently started all four matches in the 2020 CONEMBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament. His game-winning assist against Ecuador helped the Venezuelan Under-23 side earn their only victory in the group stage.

The Red Bulls open regular season play at home on March 1st against FC Cincinnati.

FC Cincinnati sign second round SuperDraft pick Ortiz

FC Cincinnati have signed midfielder Rey Ortiz after the 2020 MLS SuperDraft second round pick impressed in preseason camp.

The 23-year-old will occupy an international roster spot on FC Cincinnati’s 2020 roster. He was the No. 29th overall selection in December’s draft and will look to make an immediate impact with the club.

“We feel Rey has earned a contract with what he has shown throughout preseason,” FC Cincinnati General Manager Gerard Nijkamp said. “He had an opportunity to showcase his ability and we believe he has adapted well to the professional environment, both on and off the pitch.”

Ortiz played four seasons at the University of Portland, playing 64 games. The Acapulco, Mexico native scored 14 goals and added 26 assists in his career with the Pilots. He was also named to the 2019 All-West Coast Conference First Team and the 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-West Region Second Team.

FC Cincinnati begins their 2020 season at the New York Red Bulls on March 1st.

Orlando City signs SuperDraft pick DeZart to contract

Joey DeZart signed a first team contract with Orlando City on Friday after a strong preseason.

The club announced the signing of DeZart, the No. 31st overall pick in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. He played four years at Wake Forest University, scoring two goals and adding four assists in 65 career games.

“We’ve been extremely pleased with Joey’s progression and skill set shown during the preseason and are very excited to be able to offer him a contract with the First Team,” Orlando City SC EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said. “Joey has shown great composure on the ball, vision on the field and we expect him to provide some additional depth and competition in the midfield.”

A New Jersey native, DeZart has previously represented the Jamaican Under-20 Men’s National Team.

Galaxy sign Perez to Homegrown Contract

The LA Galaxy continued a busy offseason of acquisitions, signing a young player to a Homegrown Contract on Friday.

Midfielder Jonathan Perez signed with the Galaxy, four years after joining the club’s academy. Perez, 17, has scored 41 goals in just over 100 appearances between the Galaxy’s youth teams so far in his career.

“Jonathan has been a bright prospect in our Academy and we think he is ready to begin his career as a professional,” LA Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese said. “We believe he will continue progress in his career with the Galaxy. We look forward to Jonathan learning and growing in our professional environment.”

The Southern California product is one of 10 players now on the Galaxy first team roster to be signed through the club’s developmental system: Perez joins the likes of Cameron Dunbar, who was also signed this week.

Toronto FC signs SuperDraft first round pick Achara

Ifunanyachi Achara became the latest 2020 MLS SuperDraft pick to sign an MLS contract on Friday.

Toronto FC agreed to a deal with Achara, the former No. 25th overall selection. Born in Nigeria, Achara spent four seasons at Georgetown University, totaling six goals and five assists in 15 appearances last season for the Hoyas.

“Achara has had a terrific preseason. He works hard, is dynamic offensively and has a great way about him where he fits very well within the group,” Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis said. “We’re excited about adding him to the team as we feel he has a lot of potential.”

The 22-year-old captained the Hoyas to the NCAA National Championship last season. In preseason with TFC, Achara has scored three goals in four appearances. He will look to jump right into first-team minutes for Greg Vanney’s side, a 2019 MLS Cup finalist.


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