FC Cincinnati

QPR, longtime USMNT defender Geoff Cameron signs with Cincinnati

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CINCINNATI — Former U.S. national team defender Geoff Cameron has signed a two-year contract with Cincinnati of Major League Soccer.

The team said the deal announced Thursday includes a 2023 option.

[ MORE: Man Utd – Liverpool player ratings ]

The 35-year-old Cameron scored four goals in 55 appearances for the U.S. from 2010-17 and started three matches during the 2014 World Cup.

He has played for Houston (2008-12) in MLS and Stoke in England’s Premier League (2012-18) and second-tier League Championship (2018-19). He spent the past two seasons with Queens Park Rangers in the League Championship, appearing in 34 league matches and one FA Cup game this season.

“We have prioritized adding to our current backline and we welcome the opportunity to add Geoff Cameron to our team,” Cincinnati general manager Gerard Nijkamp said in a statement. “He has been a consistent contributor in nine seasons in England and we believe he will compete with our current players to earn regular minutes.”

A native of Attleboro, Massachusetts, Cameron signed with Houston after playing college soccer for West Virginia and Rhode Island.

A six-pack of MLS questions as the 2021 season is upon us

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There are 27 teams in this Major League Soccer season and there’s enough intrigue around the new season to justify at least one thought on the task at hand for every team from Atlanta to Vancouver (unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of time).

[ MORE: 2021 MLS schedule ]

Which, by the way, is one of the longest road trips in MLS, the equivalent of going from Old Trafford to the Camp Nou, returning to Manchester, and then doing half of a second trip to Barcelona.

[ MORE: European transfer prospects in MLS ]

That’s not as much of a thing this MLS season, though, where the Western Conference and Eastern Conference are staying apart during the regular season, and the league’s three Canadian teams are posting up with American hosts for the start of the season (Vancouver will play early home matches at Real Salt Lake, Toronto at Orlando and Tampa, and Montreal at Inter Miami).

Who’s the worst?

Keeping in mind that this is a league in which more than half of the field will make the playoffs, it says something that five clubs are considered massive longshots to even make the postseason.

New boys Austin FC (80 percent), relatively new boys FC Cincinnati (91%), and much-changed DC United (87%) join displaced Montreal (75%) and Vancouver (89%) are the only clubs with missing the playoffs in more than 60 percent of simulations by fivethirtyeight.com.

Might the worst team come from outside this group? Absolutely, this is MLS, but I’m comfortable saying that FC Cincinnati has enough intrigue to be the biggest positive surprise of the group.

How will the Philadelphia Union replace the kids?

The Supporters’ Shield winners by three points, will Jim Curtin’s men be able to overcome the transfers of Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie? The latter may be the bigger loss given the lack of standout center backs of his ilk readily available in MLS.

How quickly can Ronny Deila settle much-changed NYCFC?

Gone are Alex Ring, Ronald Matarrita, and Alexandru Mitrita. with Alfredo Morales, Chris Gloster, and Thiago Andrade among those arriving in New York City.

That said, the union of Morales and Keaton Parks will be something to watch if NYC to adapt quickly to life without Ring, who chewed up minutes in every season after arriving from Koln.

Speaking of Morales, which moving USMNT alum or former prospect will have the best season?

Bobby Wood has joined Rubio Rubin at Real Salt Lake, a double addition in the same ballpark as NYCFC’s pickups of Morales and Gloster. Gedion Zelalem is with Delia, too, while FC St Pauli youngster Leon Flach has moved to Philadelphia while Wolfsburg II center back Michael Edwards went to Colorado but will head on loan to Switchbacks FC.

As for names who’ve had their most success in MLS, Djordje Mihailovic and Mason Toye are in Montreal, Matt Polster in New England, and Matt Besler, Nick Lima, and Joe Corona are with Josh Wolff in Austin.

Wil Trapp and Juan Agudelo join Adrian Heath’s Minnesota United, while Corey Baird hopes to kickstart his USMNT career under former national team coach Bob Bradley at LAFC.

Who will have a better first season: Greg Vanney at LA Galaxy or Chris Armas with Toronto?

Obviously we aren’t talking strictly about points, or are we? What Vanney did with TFC last season despite the Reds playing outside of their country was pretty remarkable, and he heads to an LA team which was bad but does have some pieces in the form of Efrain Alvarez, Jona Dos Santos, and Chicharito, old TFC pal Victor Vazquez, and arriving wild cards Kevin Cabral and Yony Gonzalez. As for Armas, he’s already got a banner CCL win over Club Leon and a well-established leadership group.

Who will be the most over-discussed personality in the league?

We bet you think we’re talking someone like Chicharito or Josef Martinez, alas, we are not.

Have you heard that Austin is owned by Matthew McConaughey? Well do you know David Beckham hired his old pal Phil Neville to manage Inter Miami and signed Stoke City’s Ryan Shawxcross?

Yes. Yes, you have.

Top finisher, calculated risk: Cincinnati captures imagination with Brenner

Brenner
Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images
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The latest and greatest buzz over a young international import to Major League Soccer is FC Cincinnati’s eight-figure purchase of Brenner Souza da Silva from Sao Paolo in Brazil.

The 21-year-old is coming off a top ten scoring season in Brazil’s Serie A, nabbing 11 goals and three assists in 1,929 minutes and adding six goals in six Copa Do Brasil appearances.

The video doesn’t lie: He’s a fox in the box with style to spare, a top ten scorer last season in Brazil who also ranked 10th in shots per game, 8th in total shots inside the penalty area, and 2nd on shots inside the six. He doesn’t pass a lot, his 14.3 per game 19th on his team, and his 0.5 key passes per game was ninth on Sao Paolo.

[ MORE: New York Red Bulls sign 14-year-old ]

But this isn’t as simple as wondering whether FC Cincinnati has done better than Atlanta did with Ezequiel Barco or Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez, nor is there a direct comparison to Diego Rossi’s move to LAFC.

It’s a genuine challenge to wrap your head around the exciting signing, especially considering that Major League Soccer’s proving ground is an uneven one. Top goalscorers in MLS are diverse in their styles but most don’t smash their way into the league’s game-changer category at Brenner’s young age, or even before their mid-20s.

A Brazil U-17 regular earlier in his career, Brenner is a center forward with status just beginning to find his powers.

His reported $13 million fee is in the ballpark of some similar recent moves in Brazil’s top flight, behind only three moves from the summer of 2020: Antony’s $17M move from Sao Paolo to Ajax, Pedrinho’s $20M transfer from Corinthians to Benfica, and Everton’s $22M sale from Gremio to Benfica.

How does Brenner compare to those non like-for-like players, in terms of production? In some ways it’s unfair if only because FC Cincinnati has captured a golden egg, the out-and-out center forward entering the prime of his career, but let’s look at the numbers of their last seasons in Brazil, side-by-side.

[ MORE: Man United beats West Ham AET ]

Brenner
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We can’t measure Brenner’s impact yet, but first seasons for the other three have seen two massive successes and one slow start. Antony is tearing up the Eredivisie with eight goals and eight assists in 1,241 minutes and Everton’s been effective at Benfica with three goals and four assists in 1,118. Pedrinho has struggled with just 205 minutes across nine appearances.

All of those leagues are almost unquestionably better in terms of top-to-bottom talent and depth than MLS, which is often buoyed by its stars, so the bar should be fairly high for Brenner while accounting for adjustment to a new culture. And definitely note that, right now, there is only one other South American on the roster in young Velez Sarsfield import Alvaro Barreal of Argentina.

It also might be worth comparing Brenner’s numbers at his age to other free-scoring Brazilians who are in our frame of reference.

Brenner turned 21 on Jan. 16 and primarily plays as a center forward, though he’s operated underneath the CF and on the left wing.

  • Gabriel Jesus was four months from his 20th birthday when he left Palmeiras for Manchester City on the heels of 17 goals and seven assists in under 2700 minutes between Serie A and the Copa Libertadores. He hit the ground running at City, scoring seven times with five assists in 741 minutes.
  • Gabriel Barbosa was still about to turn 20 when he went from Santos to Inter Milan, scoring 15 times with seven assists in his last 1.5 seasons in Brazil. He only scored twice and barely played in two seasons between Inter MIlan and Benfica before heading back to Santos, eventually moving back to Brazil full-time with Inter taking a $13 million bath.
  • How about Richarlison? More of a winger for sure, Watford bought him from Fluminese in 2017 off a 7-goal, 7-assist season in 18 appearances for about the same fee as Cincinnati did Brenner. Also 20, Richarlison scored five times with five assists in his lone season at Vicarage Road and was in Everton as a double-digit scorer within a year.
  • Watford tried the same trick in January 2020 with Joao Pedro, still 18 at the time of the move and coming off seven goals and two assists in 28 outings. He did not feature much in the Hornets’ relegation run-in, but has six goals and two assists this season for the promotion-chasing side.

Anyway, the overall point here is that there’s no reason to put too much of a ceiling on hope and hype for a big capture, especially if Cincinnati can feed the proverbial beast. The asks quite a bit of a team that’s lost 37 of 57 matches in MLS, producing just 43 goals in the process.

Transfer news: Toney to Arsenal, Podolski to MLS, Okay move for WBA?

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Not the first to make the joke. Certainly not the last.

[ MORE: Transfer news ]

But West Brom fans, are you feeling Okay?

The Baggies are in the rumor mill Saturday alongside Arsenal, West Ham United, and FC Cincinnati.

Okay Yokuslu to West Brom

Sam Allardyce is riding high on a much-needed derby win over Wolves, and the West Brom boss knows he needs to sort out of his back end.

The Baggies have shipped chance after chance (and goal after goal) this season including 15 in the five games since Allardyce took the reins at the Hawthorns.

They’ve allowed a league-worst 41 goals this season and are reportedly hoping to get some cover for their center backs in the form of a loan for Celta Vigo’s Okay Yokuslu.

The 26-year-old Turkish international defensive midfielder can also play center back and a more advanced role and played 56 La Liga games in his first two years with the Spanish club but has been more of a sub this season.

The Baggies are also being linked with another defensive midfielder in one-time transfer mill mainstay William Carvalho of Real Betis, as well as a loan for Galatasaray striker Mbaye Diagne.

Toney to Arsenal

Newcastle fans, look away: The striker that several managers didn’t prefer in black and white might be heading to one of the world’s most celebrated attacks.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney, 24, is said to be a target of Arsenal, according to Football.London, and the prolific lower league scorer has previously been linked with West Ham.

Toney was hailed as a major capture for the Magpies when he arrived from Northampton Town in 2014 as an 18-year-old with 11 goals in League Two.

Newcastle gave him three times as many loans as appearances, and the striker has since scored 95 goals between the loans to Barnsley (twice), Petersborough, Wigan, and Scunthorpe United (also twice), plus a sale to  Shrewsbury Town before moving to Brentford.

He’s got 16 goals with the Bees this season and came off the bench when Brentford knocked his former club out of the League Cup. Whoops.

Podolski to FC Cincinnati

What does currently-injured 35-year-old Lukas Podolski have left in the tank?

MLS side FC Cincinnati may want to find out.

The 130-times capped Germany center forward has spent the last few seasons in Japan and Turkey but Cincy is said to be one of two MLS clubs interested in signing Podolski on a free transfer this summer.

 

Perea replaces Amaya after positive COVID-19 test at USMNT camp

USMNT COVID-19
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It’s one dual-national in, one dual-national out for Gregg Berhalter’s United States men’s national team ahead of a Dec. 9 friendly with El Salvador in Florida.

The Fort Lauderdale-based friendly will not see a debut for Fc Cincinnati’s Mexican-American midfielder Frankie Amaya, as the 19-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving to USMNT camp.

[ MORE: How might the USMNT line up v El Salvador? ]

“Amaya is in isolation and observing the appropriate quarantine protocols,” reads a U.S. Soccer press release. “His positive test came during U.S. Soccer’s camp arrival testing procedures. All of his pre-arrival tests were negative.”

The report says no other players have tested positive and that Amaya was not in contact with other USMNT players or staffers prior to or after testing.

Taking Amaya’s spot will be Colombian-American midfielder Andres Perea. The 20-year-old spent this season on loan at Orlando City from Atletico Nacional, where he came up through the academy to become a starter for Los Cafeteros at the U-20 World Cup in 2019.

The Tampa-born Perea left the States at the age of 5. He turned 20 in November and played 1263 minutes over 28 appearances for the Lions, assisting two goals while playing forward, center mid, and wing.

Follow @NicholasMendola