The Seattle Sounders added familiarity to its offense with the signing of former striker Fredy Montero on Thursday.
The Colombian forward returns to the Sounders, where he played from 2009-2012, winning the club’s Golden Boot in each of the club’s first three MLS seasons. Montero accumulated 47 goals and 34 assists in regular-season play and signed a one-year deal to return to Washington this season.
After playing abroad in Colombia, Portugal and China, Montero has spent three of the last four seasons with rivals Vancouver Whitecaps, where he tallied 26 goals and 14 assists. His 60 combined goals for the Sounders though ranks No. 1 in the franchise’s history.
His arrival gives Brian Schmetzer a new offensive weapon to call upon with Jordan Morris likely to miss most of the season through a serious knee injury. The Sounders reached the 2020 MLS Cup Final, but lost to the Columbus Crew.
Galaxy signs Irish defender Williams
The LA Galaxy continued to bolster its defensive corps ahead of its first season under new head coach Greg Vanney.
Derrick Williams signed with the MLS club on Thursday from EFL Championship side Blackburn Rovers. The Galaxy originally acquired the Discovery rights to Williams in a trade with D.C. United for $125,000 General Allocation Money ($75,000 GAM in 2021 and $50,000 GAM in 2022).
Williams, 28, has played professionally in England since 2011 and has represented the Republic of Ireland youth and senior teams throughout his career. He signed with the Galaxy on a two-year deal with an additional one-year option, and will not occupy an international roster spot after already holding an American passport.
Williams began his career with Aston Villa in 2011 before moving on to feature for Bristol City (2013-2016) and Blackburn Rovers (2016-2021). He has made over 250 combined appearances in the England’s League One and EFL Championship during his professional career, including additional appearances in the Premier League and the FA Cup, among others.
He becomes the fifth defensive signing by the Galaxy this offseason.
NYCFC signs Sands to lengthy contract extension
NYCFC locked up one of its promising young talents on Thursday, signing midfielder James Sands to a five-year contract extension with the club.
The Rye, New York native became NYCFC’s first Homegrown signing in 2017 and has since made 39 appearances for the first team in MLS action. Sands has continued to earn consistent first team minutes and will now hope to play a vital role in 2021.
Sands, 20, has had a decorated career so far, even despite being at a young age. Since signing his first professional contract, Sands has represented the United States at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, scored the winning penalty kick in the Club’s first Under-19 U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Championship, and became the first NYCFC player to be selected to the MLS Homegrown Game.
He logged over 1,400 minutes last season under head coach Ronny Deila before missing the final month of the season through injury. Sands and NYCFC will aim to return to the playoffs this season.
Minnesota United signs Tim Weah’s cousin, Patrick
Timothy Weah’s cousin Patrick Weah will have his chance in MLS this season after signing a four-year Homegrown Player deal with Minnesota United.
Weah, 17, is a product of the former MNUFC Academy and Wayzata High School and currently plays for collegiate side Saint Louis University. A former 2017 Minnesota Soccer State Champion and 2016 runner-up, Weah was named as 2017 Minnesota State Player of the Year.
The 6-feet-1 forward led Wayzata High School in goals and assists as a freshman and sophomore, and was a leading scorer for the MNUFC Academy. He will now aim to fight for a spot in Adrian Heath’s side, who is coming off their best season yet as an MLS franchise.
Rapids sign trio of players to Homegrown deals
The Colorado Rapids made a trio of Homegrown signings on Thursday, signing Michael Edwards, Darren Yapi and Dantouma Toure to individual contracts.
Edwards was signed from German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg on a two-year deal, with an option for an additional two years. His Homegrown Priority rights were acquired by Colorado in a trade with D.C. United, a deal which saw the Black and Red receive $75,000 in 2021 General Allocation Money (GAM). Should Edwards meet certain performance incentives, D.C. United would receive additional GAM.
The 20-year-old defender originally joined Wolfsburg’s Under-19 academy team in October 2018 as a 17-year-old after several years in the D.C. United Academy. He made 14 appearances for Wolfsburg’s Under-19s before being promoted to Wolfsburg II in the Regionalliga Nord, the German fourth tier, in July 2019. Edwards made 17 appearances since then, all of them starts, and has trained with Wolfsburg’s Bundesliga squad.
Yapi, 16, became the youngest player to sign a HG deal in the Rapids’ history. His contract runs for five years and includes an option for an additional season.
He spent much of 2020 training with the Rapids first team and the club’s USL Championship affiliate, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. Yapi signed a USL Academy contract with Switchbacks FC on July 31 and made his professional debut on August 1st at age 15. In November, Yapi was named Rapids Academy Player of the Year.
Toure, a fellow international teammate of Yapi with the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, signed a four-year deal on Thursday. The Rapids acquired his Homegrown Priority Rights from New York Red Bulls in exchange for $50,000 in 2021 General Allocation Money (GAM). Should Toure meet certain performance incentives, New York Red Bulls would receive additional GAM and is entitled to a small percentage of any future transfer fee for Toure.
He spent the 2020 season with New York Red Bulls II in the USL Championship, where he scored three goals and added three assists in 13 appearances.
Union defender Gaddis announces retirement
Ray Gaddis has been a familiar face in the Philadelphia Union backline for several seasons, but will now embark on a new chapter of his life.
The club announced Thursday that Gaddis made his decision to retire from MLS. A nine-season Union veteran, Gaddis was first drafted by the Union in 2012 and would go on to become the all-time club leader in appearances (221), starts (211), and minutes played (18,702).
In his nine seasons with the club, Gaddis contributed 10 assists and is tied for most matches played in a single season (34). He became the first player in Union history to reach 200 games played and 200 starts.
A former college player at the University of West Virginia, Gaddis has also been a key figure off the field for the Union and throughout the local community. He is a member of the MLS’ Black Players for Change, an organization formed to address systemic racism, elevate black voices, and address inequities found across the broader soccer landscape. For their work, they were honored with the MLS 2021 Humanitarian of the Year award.
Gaddis’ departure from the club leaves a hole at right back, which both Olivier Mbaizo and Matt Real could fight for in 2021.
Atlanta United signs goalkeeper Lundgaard
Atlanta United added depth to the goalkeeper position with the signing of Ben Lundgaard from USL affiliate Atlanta United 2.
Lundgaard’s deal is a one-year contract with options for two additional years. He will work alongside veteran Brad Guzan in the Five Stripes goalkeeping corps in 2021.
The 25-year-old joins the Five Stripes after playing one season with ATL UTD 2. He started 13 matches in 2020, and finished sixth in the USL Championship with 47 saves, two of which were penalties.
A 6-foot-6 goalkeeper originally made the move to Atlanta from USL side Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. He was loaned to Pittsburgh by the Columbus Crew, the club who drafted Lundgaard with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft.
NYCFC signs goalkeeper Mizell
NYCFC also added goalkeeper depth on Thursday with the signing of Cody Mizell for the 2021 season.
Mizell most recently played for New Mexico United in the USL Championship and is expected to join NYCFC on Monday for the start of a three-week training camp in Florida. He was with the club during 2020 preseason preparations as well.
A native of Woodstock, Georgia and product of Clemson University, Mizell has spent most of his professional career in the USL Championship. He played in 56 matches for New Mexico United since joining the expansion club in 2019. Mizell started 17 matches in 2020 and kept seven clean sheets helping lead New Mexico to an appearance in the league’s Western Conference Semifinals.
He will fight with 24-year-old Luis Barraza for the backup job behind Sean Johnson.