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MLS Reports: Red Bulls on verge of Argentine signing, and more

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The New York Red Bulls are in the market for a new playmaker, and it appears they’ve found from South America.

The Red Bulls are on the verge of signing Alejandro “El Kaku” Romero Gamarra, a 22-year-old attacking midfielder for Argentine side Huracan, for a $7 million transfer fee according to a report from TYC. The Argentine native played three times for the Argentina Under-20 Men’s National Team at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup and has played in Huracan’s first team since 2013.

All that’s remaining is for El Kaku to sign personal terms with the Red Bulls. The Red Bulls reportedly beat out Cruz Azul for the transfer of the Romero.

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If Romero signs for the Red Bulls, he’d replace Sacha Kljestan and countryman Gonzalo Veron, who was selected by D.C. United in the MLS Re-Entry Draft this week, and be following in the footsteps of MLS MVP and fellow Buenos Aires native Diego Valeri to MLS, albeit without European experience beforehand.

Here are some more reports, news and notes from around MLS:


Minnesota United now favorites to land Kljestan

With Sacha Kljestan looking as if his future lies away from Red Bull Arena, a new potential landing spot has emerged for the veteran midfielder.

According to Metro US, Minnesota United has emerged as a possibility for Kljestan as the club has “pieced together a sizable deal” to acquire the former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder. It would likely take a combination of MLS allocation money as well as players moving in the other direction for the Red Bulls to agree to a deal to let their current captain leave.

Kljestan had previously been linked with a move to expansion side Los Angeles FC, not far from where he grew up in Huntington Beach. Whoever gets Kljestan will get one of the best passers in the league, with 51 assists in 97 league matches since joining the Red Bulls in 2015.


Kitchen headed to LA Galaxy?

Perry Kitchen could be set for a return to MLS after a rough year abroad.

The former No. 2 overall selection in the MLS SuperDraft out of Akron has been reported to be close to signing for the LA Galaxy after two years out of the league. There is a complication though, as the Galaxy have to acquire the rights to sign Kitchen from D.C. United, his former club.

Kitchen made waves originally when he joined Heart of Midlothian in March 2016, soon after making his USMNT debut. He even was named club captain after six months at the club. However, after manager Robbie Nielsen was sacked, new boss Ian Cathro didn’t have Kitchen in his plans. A move to Randers in Denmark hasn’t worked out as well.

While Kitchen started 17 times, Randers currently sit in last place in the Danish top flight, with just 14 points from 19 games.

Vancouver adds versatile Juarez, formerly of Monterrey, Celtic

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Efrain Juarez is bringing his game to Major League Soccer.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 39-times capped Mexico veteran has inked a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps, joining a strengthened unit which came within a point of winning the West last season.

Juarez, 29, was unveiled as a midfielder by the ‘Caps, though he’s primarily played right back in his club career. He’s played at Celtic, Real Zaragoza, Club America, Monterrey, and Pumas.

Last capped by El Tri in 2012, Juarez has played every position except goal, center attacking mid, and center forward in his career (picture a ‘U’ on the pitch).

“I’m so happy and excited for this new stage in my career,” Juarez said. “It’s an opportunity for me to keep growing in a new league and to be a part of an amazing club in Vancouver. From the moment they showed interest me, Carl Robinson and the Whitecaps staff have made me feel very important. I promise to put all my effort into this club and do my best to help us achieve our goals.”

VIDEO: Asensio goal ends Real Madrid’s winless run

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Marco Asensio’s eighth goal of the season and second of this Copa del Rey put an end to an unlikely Real Madrid winless run in a 1-0 victory at Leganes.

[ MLS: 2018 Mock SuperDraft ]

The 21-year-old darted in front of a defender to volley home from in-tight, giving Real Madrid a first leg lead in the tournament quarterfinals.

More importantly, perhaps, it gives struggling Real a boost in morale after draws with Celta Vigo and Numancia, and a loss to Villarreal.

Real is home to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga before hosting Leganes in the second leg.

Hopeful Newcastle buyer Staveley: Offer still on the table

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Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is probably happy that his for-sale club is away this weekend, even though his side’s up against Manchester City.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 24  ]

That’s because hopeful buyer Amanda Staveley has responded to claims that her hopeful takeover of the team won’t be happening any time soon.

Talks had stalled, said Tuesday reports, much to the chagrin of an #AshleyOut brigade that at times can make Arsenal’s #WengerOut brigade look like a yard full of happy puppies.

A “source” had said, “Attempts to reach a deal have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” but Staveley shot back on Thursday to reignite the fire. From the BBC, taken from The Times:

“Our bid remains on the table. This is an investment, but it has to be a long-term investment. Newcastle would be run as a business, but we want it to be a successful, thriving business that is an absolutely integral part of the city.”

She also said that popular manager Rafa Benitez is integral to her interest in the team, and that fact combined with her insistence that an offer remains on the table will have many Newcastle fans seething with current ownership (and there have been protests for years). It’s Ashley’s move now.

2018 MLS Mock Draft: LAFC, Galaxy hold the keys

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Major League Soccer’s latest batch of hopeful rookies learn the next steps of their professional careers beginning Friday with the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft.

There are several intriguing prospects, including accomplished Stanford center back Tomas Hilliard-Arce and dangerous Michigan winger Francis Atuahene.

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An MLS mock draft is always tricky given the wildly varying opinions on players from the college game. This year, it’s even trickier as clubs without picks and some with multiple first round picks may be looking to move up and down even more than the norm.

Here’s how we think the draft could play out:

  1. LAFC – Tomas Hilliard-Arce, CB, Stanford
  2. LA Galaxy – Jon Bakero, FW, Wake Forest
  3. DC United – Francis Atuahene, FW, Michigan
  4. Montreal – Joao Moutinho, LB, Akron
  5. Minnesota – Wyatt Omsberg, CB, Dartmouth
  6. Orlando City – Ema Twumasi, FW, Wake Forest
  7. Montreal – Chris Mueller, FW, Wisconsin
  8. New England – Mo Adams, MF, Syracuse
  9. New England – Chris Lema, MF, Georgetown
  10. Real Salt Lake – Justin Fiddes, LB, Washington
  11. FC Dallas – Marcelo Acuna, FW, Virginia Tech
  12. San Jose – Brandon Bye, RB, Western Michigan
  13. Sporting KC – Ed Opoku, FW, Virginia
  14. Atlanta – Alex Roldan, MF, Seattle
  15. Chicago – Mason Toye, FW, Indiana
  16. New York Red Bulls – Alan Winn, MF, North Carolina
  17. Vancouver – Tristan Blackmon, RB, Pacific
  18. Sporting KC – Jon Gallagher, FW, Notre Dame
  19. New York City FC – Daniel Musovski, FW, UNLV
  20. Houston – Mo Thiaw, FW, Louisville
  21. Columbus – Brian White, FW, Duke
  22. Seattle – Tim Kubel, MF, Louisville
  23. Toronto FC – Oliver Shannon, MF, Clemson

There are a few players to keep an eye on for the later rounds that I won’t project for the first round due almost exclusively to first person bias (Some I’ve seen play in college, others at other levels). Afonso Pinheiro from Albany produced like crazy until this season, and Bowling Green defender Alexis Souahy has a skill set that could really transmit to the MLS level.

Mac Steeves (Providence) is a prototypical big body scorer, while Evansville’s heady Ian McGrath has a flair for the absurd and can play almost every position up the center of the pitch. Charleston’s Thomas Vancaeyezeele was a D-2 monster and is probably worth a shot earlier than people suspect.