Los Angeles FC made its first major player move since the hiring of Steve Cherundolo as head coach, and it features the arrival of a U.S. men’s national team regular to bolster the LAFC midfield.
Kellyn Acosta is heading to LAFC after acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rapids on Friday. In exchange, the Rapids will receive a total of $1.1 million in General Allocation Money ($550,000 in 2022 and $550,000 in 2023) and could receive an additional $400,000 in GAM if Acosta reaches certain performance-based objectives.
“Kellyn is a player that has all the attributes necessary to play how we want in the midfield,” LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington said. “He provides versatility and ability to help our team immediately. He is in his prime, a fixture in our National Team, and offers the MLS experience we sought in the off-season.”
The 26-year-old Acosta helped the Rapids clinch the top seed in the Western Conference in 2021, starting 21 matches, scoring one goal and registering two assists in over 1,700 minutes played. Since debuting in MLS in 2013, Acosta has totaled 196 regular season appearances.
On the international level, Acosta earned 21 caps alone in 2021, helping the U.S. men’s national team win both the Concacaf Gold Cup and Nations League trophies.
Acosta claimed the Rapids “pushed me out” of the club while offers from foreign clubs were on the table in a tweet Friday afternoon in reply to an excerpt from an SB Nation article. The article stated that interest from Europe didn’t build while the Rapids tried negotiating an extension with Acosta.
Acosta followed that comment up in another tweet with a parting message for Rapids fans: “Regardless of the matter, I enjoyed my time in Colorado and was with a great group of players and staff. We achieved things most wouldn’t believe. Wishing them the best moving forward. I’m excited for my next adventure!”
Here is rundown of all the news from around MLS on Friday:
Diego Chara signs multi-year Timbers extension
Diego Chara has been the heartbeat of the Portland Timbers midfield for several seasons and the veteran was rewarded with a multi-year contract extension on Friday.
Chara’s new contract will run through 2024, keeping him with the Timbers through what would be his 14th overall season with the club. Chara is the club’s all-time leader in games played (310), games started (306) and minutes played (27,203) in MLS regular season action.
He’s also recorded 12 goals and 27 assists during his career, helping the Timbers win the 2015 MLS Cup. Chara has also been named an MLS All-Star in 2019 and was named to the league’s Best XI in 2020.
“The role that Diego Chara has in this team is immeasurable. He is our captain and leader, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him with us for the next three years,” said head coach Giovanni Savarese. “We’re incredibly thankful for his commitment and ongoing hard work to this team.”
The Timbers will look for similar success in 2022 after reaching MLS Cup in 2021.
Jalil Anibaba joins Crew
The Columbus Crew added more veteran leadership to their defensive corps on Friday with hopes of returning to the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2022.
Jalil Anibaba signed a one-year contract with the Crew on Friday, which includes an option for 2023. Anibaba, 33, can feature in Caleb Porter’s side as a center back or full back and makes the switch from Nashville SC to the Crew.
Anibaba has made 240 regular season appearances in MLS since joining the league in 2011. He’s contributed seven goals and 14 assists with stops at the New England Revolution, Chicago Fire, Sporting Kansas City, Houston Dynamo and Nashville SC.
“Jalil is a veteran player with more than a decade of experience in MLS, and his addition to our roster will help bolster the backline,” Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said. “Jalil is a leader on and off the field, and we’re pleased that a player with the breadth of his experience in MLS chose to sign with the Crew, and we look forward to having him join our team.”
Anibaba will join a Crew defensive unit led by center back Jonathan Mensah.
Sporting KC signs Belgian defender Ndenbe
Sporting Kansas City’s busy week continued Friday with the acquisition of Belgian left back Logan Ndenbe.
Ndenbe joins the Western Conference club from French second tier side Guingamp on a permanent transfer. Ndenbe signed a two-year contract with SKC, which also includes a club option for 2025.
Ndenbe, 21, is a Belgian youth international, representing his country in several youth national teams and recently featuring at the Under-21 European Championship. Prior to his move to Guingamp in 2020, Ndenbe played for Oostende in the Belgian Pro League.
Sporting KC now has two new faces at the left back position with Ndenbe joining free agent signing Ben Sweat on the depth chart.
Inter Miami adds Swedish defender McVey
Inter Miami filled the void left by retiree Ryan Shawcross by signing Swedish center back Christopher McVey on a permanent deal Friday.
McVey joins from Swedish top-flight club Elfsborg on a two-year deal, which includes an option for 2025. The 24-year-old has also featured as a full back in Sweden, previously playing for Sweden’s u-17 and u-18 national teams.
McVey made 42 appearances for Elfsborg from 2017-21, including five UEFA Conference League qualifying matches this season. Aside from his Allsvenskan experience, he’s also featured on loan at Swedish second division club Dalkurd in 2019.
Inter Miami will look to rebound from a disappointing season in 2021.
Axel Kei signs RSL contract, becomes youngest MLS player
Axel Kei is the youngest player under contract in MLS history, surpassing Freddy Adu’s 18-year record.
Kei, an RSL academy player, is 14 years and 15 days old. Kei is 153 days younger than Adu, who signed with D.C. United in 2003 at 14 years old. Kei signed a two-year deal with RSL.
The signing of Kei comes after some impressive performances in the academy. He led RSL’s U15 team to win the first-ever MLS Next Cup championship by scoring five goals in five games. Kei also had six goals in six games with RSL’s U17 team.
Kei was born in Ivory Coast and lived in Brazil before his family relocated to San Diego. He was called up to a youth national team training camp in February 2019.
Kei became the youngest player in American team sports history when he entered a match for Real Monarchs on October 8, 2021. Kei was 13 years, eight months and nine days old at the time.
- Ike Opara has been named an assistant coach with USL side Sporting Kansas City II, joining former teammate Benny Feilhaber’s staff.
- Charlotte transferred midfielder Riley McGree to English Football League Championship side Middlesbrough on Friday. McGree signed with Charlotte FC in 2020, but leaves the club before its inaugural MLS season.
- The Columbus Crew signed Campbell University defender Jake Morris through the 2023 season with options in 2024 and 2025. The Crew acquired Morris’ MLS Homegrown priority rights in a trade with the Seattle Sounders. Seattle received $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) for 2022.
- The Vancouver Whitecaps re-signed defender Javain Brown to a three-year contract, which includes a club option for 2025. Brown registered five assists in 22 matches for the Whitecaps in his rookie season. Brown also appeared in four World Cup Qualifying matches for Jamaica.
- FC Cincinnati retained veteran centerback Nick Hagglund, signing him through 2023. Hagglund joined the club in 2019 from Toronto FC and has made 57 MLS appearances FC Cincinnati.
- The San Jose Earthquakes signed midfielder Niko Tsakiris to a Homegrown player contract through 2025. Tsakiris, 16, is the fifth-youngest player in Quakes history.
- The Columbus Crew signed goalkeeper Brady Scott after selecting him in the MLS Re-Entry Draft earlier this offseason. Scott has previously been on the rosters of both Nashville SC and Austin FC.
- Atlanta United signed veteran goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth to a one-year contract Friday. The 13-year MLS veteran has totaled over 230 appearances in league play and joins Brad Guzan in the Five Stripes goalkeeping corps.
- Sporting Kansas City signed centerback Kortne Ford. Ford joins from the Colorado Rapids. Ford signed a homegrown deal with the Rapids in 2017 and made 35 appearances across his first two seasons. However, he missed the entire 2020 and 2021 seasons injured. He returned to the field in August 2021 on a loan spell with San Antonio FC.