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MLS Ticker: Union signs Martinez to new contract, Dynamo signs goalkeeper Morton, and more


Philadelphia Union midfielder Jose Martinez became a fan favorite for his aggressive style of play and was rewarded Wednesday with a new contract at the club.

Following his breakout 2020 season, Martinez’s new deals runs through the 2022 MLS season. The Union also holds club options for 2023 and 2024, should they wish to keep the Venezuelan longer.

“Jose’s passion and physicality gives us an extra edge every time he steps on the field,” said Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner said. “He has proven to be dominant in our midfield, vital in the transition on attack and we are looking forward to seeing his continued development and contributions.”

The 26-year-old signed with the Union ahead of the 2020 season and started in all 14 of his regular season appearances. Martinez registered two assists in the season, with one of them coming in a 2-0 Decision Day victory over the New England Revolution, which clinched the Supporters’ Shield.

Prior to joining the Union, Martinez played for the Venezuelan club, Zulia FC, where he scored two goals and added four assists across 65 appearances in 2018 and 2019. He is eligible for the Venezuelan National Team, but has yet to make his senior debut.

Dynamo signs USL standout goalkeeper Morton

The Houston Dynamo FC added a top goalkeeping talent to the mix on Wednesday, signing former USL standout Kyle Morton. 

Morton joins the Dynamo after one season with Saint Louis FC, where he finished as a finalist for the 2020 USL Goalkeeper of the Year award. The 6-feet-4 goalkeeper finished with three clean sheets, and posted seven victories in 2020, while leading Saint Louis FC to the Eastern Conference semifinals in a shortened season.

“Kyle has worked hard through the last couple of years to earn this opportunity at the MLS level and we look forward to welcoming him to our Club.” said Dynamo Senior Vice President and General Manager Matt Jordan. “He is a player who has the talent and upside to provide strong competition within our goalkeeping corps.”

The goalkeeper joined Saint Louis FC after two seasons with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. He finished with 14 shutouts in 2019, tied for the most in the USL Championship and led the Riverhounds to the Eastern Conference semifinals in his last season with the club. 

Morton joins Marko Maric and Michael Nelson in the Dynamo goalkeeping ranks.

Red Bulls add fullback Edwards on loan

The New York Red Bulls added wingback depth on Wednesday with the loan acquisition of Tom Edwards.

Edwards joins from EFL Championship side Stoke City for the 2021 MLS season, in which he will occupy an international roster spot. The 22-year-old came through the Stoke City Academy since joining in 2006 and has played first team football regularly.

“I’m pleased that we have added Tom to our team,” said Head Coach Gerhard Struber. “Tom has a variety of experiences at different levels of English football, including the Premier League. He is a dynamic player at both ends of the field, he is a strong defender and has good qualities to join in the attack as well.”

Edwards made his Premier League debut against Manchester City in 2017 and went on to total six starts that season. Since joining the first team, Edwards has totaled 51 appearances for the Potters, scoring one goal and adding one assist.

Whitecaps re-sign defender Rose

The Vancouver Whitecaps were also among the roster moves on Wednesday, re-signing defender Andy Rose.

Rose returns for his third season with the Whitecaps and seventh overall in MLS. The 30-year-old arrived in Vancouver prior to the start of the 2019 season and has since made 39 appearances across all competitions with 32 of those being starts.

“Andy is a consummate professional and a mentor to our young players,” said Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos. “As a member of the senior leadership group, Andy helps set the tone by his willingness to help the club wherever needed. We are very pleased Andy will continue to be a member of our club.”

This year, Rose enters his 10th professional season, which started in Seattle before stops in England with Coventry City FC and Scotland with Motherwell FC. Across all competitions, Rose has amassed 241 first team appearances.

Rose will look to help the Whitecaps rebound from a disappointing 2020 season, which saw them miss the playoffs.

LAFC retains veteran defender Harvey

LAFC retained a veteran presence in its backline, keeping Jordan Harvey on a new one-year deal.

Harvey, 36, is a 15-year MLS veteran who ranks 15th all-time in minutes (28,211) and is tied for 18th in games played (340). In 2020, Harvey appeared in 11 regular season contests and the club’s lone postseason match.

“Jordan has been an integral part of our Club since joining us ahead of our inaugural campaign in 2018,” said Co-President & General Manager John Thorrington. “Not only has he brought a wealth of experience and leadership to the locker room, but he has also served as a fantastic ambassador in our community.”

Originally signed as a free agent in January 2018, Harvey has appeared in 70 MLS matches for LAFC, notching one goal and seven assists in 5,263 minutes. A Mission Viejo, California. native, Harvey joined the league in 2006 and has also represented the Colorado Rapids, Philadelphia Union, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Sounders re-sign Medranda, Cleveland ahead of 2021 season

The Seattle Sounders retained the services of two experienced players heading into the 2021 MLS season.

Jimmy Medranda and Stefan Cleveland signed new deals with the club on Wednesday and will look to help the Sounders in their respective second seasons in Seattle. Medranda was acquired last Fall while Cleveland spent the entire season with the Sounders first team after being acquired in the 2019 offseason.

“We are pleased to add two more pieces to our roster ahead of the 2021 season,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “Stefan did well as a member of our goalkeeping group last year, and we were impressed with Jimmy after he joined us late last season. Both will provide our squad with quality depth as we head into a new campaign.”

Cleveland served as Stefan Frei’s backup last season after coming to Seattle in November of 2019 via trade with Chicago, who originally selected him with the 26th overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Cleveland has five career appearances in MLS play, in addition to 22 USL League One appearances while on loan.

Medranda made three appearances for the Sounders after coming over in October via a trade with Nashville SC. The Colombian international joined the league in 2013, winning MLS Cup in his rookie season with Sporting Kansas City, in addition to Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles in 2015 and 2017.

D.C. United rewards Odoi-Atsem with contract extension

Chris Odoi-Atsem was locked up to a new contract on Wednesday, now being kept in D.C. United through the 2022 MLS season. D.C. United also holds a player option for the 2023 season, keeping an experienced defender in its ranks going forward. A former No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, Odoi-Atsem has appeared in 28 MLS matches, scoring one goal.

“Chris has really grown as a player since he joined the club and he had his best season last year, consistently performing well for us at outside back,” said D.C. United GM and VP of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper said. “His energy and dynamism in both defense and going forward bring a lot to our side and we look forward to the positive impact he will continue to have on our team for years to come.”

In 2020, Odoi-Atsem appeared in a career-best 15 games, totaling 769 minutes. He scored his first goal for the Black and Red on October 18th, 2020; a 78th-minute game-winner in the 2-1 win against FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium.

Longtime defender Powell heads to Sudan Premier League

Longtime MLS defender Alvas Powell has ended his time in the North American League, making the move to Sudan.Sudanese Premier League club Al Hilal Educational Club announced Wednesday that Powell has joined the club through the rest of the current season. There is also an option for Powell to stay with Al Hilal for an additional season.

Al Hilal finished runners-up last season in the Premier League, and is the 27-time champion of the league overall.

Powell ends a seven-year spell in the United States, joining the Portland Timbers in 2013. He spent a year with USL side Sacramento Republic in 2014 before returning to Portland, where he won MLS Cup in 2015. He spent 2019 with expansion side FC Cincinnati before moving to Inter Miami in 2020.

He only made five appearances for the Florida-based club before seeing his contract option declined this offseason.

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