Two players in the U.S. Men’s National Team player pool will now be playing in Major League Soccer.
First, FC Cincinnati announced that it had signed winger Kenny Saief on loan from RSC Anderlecht in Belgium. The team didn’t disclose transfer details, but it’s likely there is an option to buy Saief at the end of the loan. It’s also unclear whether Saief’s contract was paid down with allocation money.
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“We are excited to add a player of Kenny’s caliber to our team,” FC Cincinnati head coach Alan Koch said in a statement. “He is someone who comes to our club with significant top-tier experience. We look forward to welcoming Kenny to Cincinnati and integrating him within our group immediately.”
Later in the day, the LA Galaxy posted that it had signed midfielder Joe Corona, using TAM (targeted allocation money) in the deal. Corona joined on a free transfer from Club Tijuana, where he spent most of the last nine years since turning professional in 2010.
“Joe is an experienced and quality player who can immediately address an area of need for our club,” said LA Galaxy GM Dennis te Kloese said in a statement. “I am familiar with Joe from his time in Liga MX and think he can be an impactful player on our roster. We are excited to welcome Joe to our team and look forward to his contributions.”
In both cases, it was a chance for the players to find some much-needed playing time. After excelling when he first moved to Anderlecht, Saief became a second-choice player this fall. He’s only started twice, playing 12 times in Belgian league matches with 307 minutes clocked. As Saief hopes to be part of this next USMNT cycle, it was important for him to get regular playing time, even if it was outside of Europe. Plus, in the U.S. he can leverage his U.S. passport into a good contract and be a domestic player for a team in search of a star attacker to play with Fanendo Adi.
Part of how Saief joined FC Cincinnati was through its former captain, fellow Israeli Dekel Keinan.
Corona on the other hand has been with the USMNT since 2012, but has never fully become the star many thought or hoped he would become. Corona has amassed 23 caps for the USMNT but outside of Gold Cups, he hasn’t played at a World Cup and was not in the USMNT squad for the last round of World Cup qualifying. Considering he’ll be 32 when the 2022 World Cup takes place, his days with the USMNT may be number. However, with him playing close to home, expect him to once again be considered for a role at this summer’s Gold Cup.