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MLS Ticker: Orlando City signs Suarez, Timbers add Van Rankin, and more

Orlando City was in search of some fresh options at left back, and have turned to an American-born player with youth national team experience, and versatility as a winger turned fullback.

The Lions announced the loan acquisition of 23-year-old defender Jonathan Suárez from Liga MX side Querétaro FC. Suárez joins the Lions, on a one-year loan with an option to buy.

“Completing the process of bringing Jonathan to play for us on loan is another important step towards improving our roster and creating depth for us at left back,” said Orlando City EVP of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi. “Having proven himself to be a top competitor in Liga MX through his versatility, quality on the ball and strength in the buildup, we’re excited to see the different perspectives and skills that he brings to our backline.”

Suárez started out his professional career at Mexico’s Cimarrones de Sonora for one season before transferring to Querétaro ahead of the 2018-19 Liga MX campaign. The American spent two years playing for the Central Mexican side before spending the first half of the 2020-21 Liga MX season on loan at Pumas. Suárez has played consistent minutes for Pumas Tabasco, the club’s B team in Liga de Expansión MX, while also frequently being selected to the First Team’s game day roster.

Suarez has totaled 55 appearances and over 3,600 minutes played across all competitions with his three previous clubs, scoring one goal for Cimarrones and providing one assist for Querétaro FC.

He is also a former U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team player and will now join an Orlando City side aiming to build off a strong first season under Oscar Pareja.

Here is a look at some of Wednesday’s other MLS moves:

Timbers adds defender Van Rankin on loan

The Portland Timbers also made a defensive roster move on Wednesday, adding Mexican defender Josecarlos Van Rankin on a one-year loan.

Van Rankin will occupy an international roster slot after joining from Liga MX side Chivas de Guadalajara. His loan move comes with an option to buy as well, should the Timbers become interested later this year.

The 27-year-old joins the Timbers after having played the last two Liga MX campaigns with Santos Laguna, on loan from Chivas. With Santos Laguna, Van Rankin tallied two goals in 25 appearances across all competitions.

“Josecarlos is an experienced player whose flexibility to play numerous positions will help us not only in MLS, but in Concacaf Champions League play,” Timbers GM and President of Soccer Gavin Wilkinson said. “Getting a proven player with his qualities on loan is a great acquisition at a beneficial cap number and provides an extended scouting opportunity with the ability to permanently transfer him in the future.”

Prior to joining Santos Laguna on loan, Van Rankin played two seasons with Chivas, where he registered two goals and three assists in 44 appearances across all competitions. He also made two appearances for Chivas in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup.

At the international level, Van Rankin has made one appearance for the Mexico Men’s National Team, starting and tallying an assist in a 3-2 win over Costa Rica in October 2018.

Nashville SC signs winger Pineiro

Nashville SC continued to add South American talent to its attack with the signing of Uruguayan winger Rodrigo Piñeiro.

Pineiro joins from Danubio FC in Uruguay’s First Division and has been signed through the 2023 MLS season. The 21-year-old joins Designated Players Jhonder Cádiz, Randall Leal and Hany Mukhtar, striker Daniel Ríos and Homegrown wingers Handwalla Bwalla and Alex Muyl, all of whom are 25 years of age or younger.

“Rodrigo has the pace and creativity to be a threat in the final third of the field, both on and off the ball. He adds a unique dynamic to our attack,” said Nashville SC General Manager Mike Jacobs.

Despite an unusual 2020 campaign, the Uruguayan was able to produce while on loan with Danubio FC by recording three goals and three assists in 1,472 minutes of action. He was involved in 41% of the club’s goals last season.

Pineiro is a former Uruguyan U-20 Men’s National Team player, who has teamed up with current MLS players Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez.

Sporting KC signs defender Isimat-Mirin

Peter Vermes will have a veteran center back to call upon in 2021 with Nicolas Isimat-Mirin making the move to MLS.

Sporting KC announced the signing of the French defender to a two-year contract on Wednesday. Isimat-Mirin’s deal with run through the 2022 MLS season and comes with an option for 2023. The 29-year-old will occupy an international roster spot on SKC’s roster.

Isimat-Mirin has played in over 250 professional matches since 2010, featuring in the top divisions of France, the Netherlands and Turkey.

He helped PSV capture three league titles and also played in both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. The Frenchman has also played for Besiktas, Monaco, and Toulouse during his professional career.

A former French Youth National Team player, Isimat-Mirin could play a leadership role for SKC following the exit of longtime club legend Matt Besler this offseason.

CF Montreal adds forward Johnsen

Bjørn Johnsen became the latest offseason acquisition for CF Montreal, joining the Canadian club from from South Korean Premier League club Ulsan Hyundai.

Johnsen signed a two-year contract on Wednesday, which comes with an option for 2023 using Targeted Allocation Money. The Norwegian international has earned 16 caps for the Norwegian Men’s National Team, scoring five goals and providing one assist.

“We are pleased with the acquisition of such a seasoned player, with extended experience in Europe and Asia,” said CF Montréal sporting director, Olivier Renard. “Bjørn is a big and very mobile striker. He has shown his capacity to score goals in all the clubs he has played for in the past, and with the Norwegian national team.”

Johnsen joined Ulsan Hyundai of the Korean K League 1, where he scored 11 goals in 31 games in 2020. He lifted the AFC Champions League trophy last December, scoring five goals in nine games during the competition and allowing his club to qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup.

The New York-born forward has also played for Atletico CP, Hearts, ADO Den Haag, and Litex Lovech during his professional career. In total, Johnsen has recorded 96 goals in 279 appearances at club level.

CF Montreal loans Yao, Ferdinand to CPL

CF Montréal also loaned out two young players on Wednesday for the 2021 MLS season.

Defender Karifa Yao will join Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC, while defender Keesean Ferdinand will join Atlético Ottawa. Both players can be recalled at any time during the MLS season.

“The idea behind these loans is to allow them to play minutes and earn experience,” said CF Montréal sporting director Olivier Renard. “These are two young players from our Academy in which we put a lot of trust in for the future. We hope they will grow and come back stronger with CF Montréal. James Pantemis’ loan last year is a good example.”

Yao signed his first professional contract in June 2019 and played his first professional minutes in September 2020.

Ferdinand signed his first professional contract in June 2020. He represented Canada’s Under-17 Men’s National Team at the U-17 FIFA World Cup in Brazil back in 2019.


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