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COVID-19 season suspensions leave questions for transfer targets

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When USMNT fullback Reggie Cannon signed a new deal with FC Dallas, both sides knew the 21-year-old was not long for Texas.

But suspended seasons in Europe raise questions as to when the transfer window will open this summer.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Speaking in a conference call, Cannon said “the goal was to be transferred this summer” but that he’s focused on the more serious health issues caused by the coronavirus suspensions.

“Regardless of if it happens [this summer] or not, I don’t think it’ll hinder my career at all,” Cannon said. “It’s God’s timing, I have to trust in him and have faith, which I do. At the end of the day, I know my future is over there, whenever that may be. I just have to be patient and kill it at FC Dallas. Dallas is my priority and what I care for right now. That future is great and I’m looking for it, but right now I have to give 100 percent to Dallas.”

Cannon has 11 caps for the USMNT and 72 first-team appearances for FC Dallas. He turns 22 on June 11, the same age as DeAndre Yedlin when the Seattle Sounders man headed abroad.

For every up-and-coming player looking to get into a top league in Europe, there are a bevy of installed talents hoping to keep their spot.

Bournemouth captain Simon Francis wants to keep the Cherries in the top flight, and says he’s got something to prove before becoming a free agent this summer. From The Bournemouth Daily Echo, citing The Sun:

“We have nine games left and if in those matches I need to prove that I can still cut it at this level, then so be it.”

Francis’ contract expires June 30, but he’s not just curious about his own deal. Bournemouth is in a relegation fight, and what happens with guys like him, Charlie Daniels, Andrew Surman, and star winger Ryan Fraser.

“Would you sign a short-term contract with the club you are currently at and commit your short-term future? Or do you think, ‘No, this club wants me for next season, I’ll hold off’? … If the season does go beyond June 30, we are going to need Ryan (Fraser) because he would play a massive part in our fight to stay up.”

Finishing European seasons by June 30 would still be likely if the league kicks back into action at the end of April. We’ll see what it means for hundreds of players if the calendar turns to July.

Ferreira approved for USMNT, will start versus Costa Rica

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FC Dallas striker has opted to represent the United States men’s national team, and has been cleared to make his senior debut in Saturday’s friendly versus Costa Rica.

The team announced Friday that the teenage Colombian-American will start versus Los Ticos.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

It’s an almost exclusively MLS squad for the match, and Ferreira is one of the more intriguing names on the roster.

Ferreira turned 19 on Christmas Eve, and already has nine goals and six assists in 38 appearances for Dallas’ senior side. He’s also scored six times with two assists in 14 USL appearances for FC Tulsa.

From USSoccer.com:

“I had a long conversation with my family, asking what they thought I should do. We all came to a conclusion that the U.S. has been following me for a while, they’ve seen me, this is where I’ve been playing for a lot of my years. That led towards my final decision to play for the U.S., that they always had me in their thoughts, even when unfortunately, I couldn’t play.”

Ferreira’s father, David, was the 2010 MLS MVP and earned 38 caps representing Los Cafeteros of Colombia. He won the Copa America in 2001.

USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter announced another starter versus Costa Rica, saying Sean Johnson gets the nod at goalkeeper.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up versus Costa Rica? ]

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Ex-USMNT winger Picault traded; Four selected in MLS Re-Entry Draft

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Four players found new clubs via Stage One of the Major League Soccer Re-Entry Draft on Tuesday, while a one-time USMNT winger found a new home by way of trade.

That player is Fabrice “Fafa” Picault, who is headed to FC Dallas in exchange for $300,000 of 2020 General Allocation Money and a conditional $75,000 in 2021.

[ MORE: U.S. Soccer announces award nominees ]

Picault, 28, had five goals and five assists in 35 appearances for Philadelphia this season, his third in MLS. He scored 17 times with eight assists his first two seasons in the league, and his next appearance will be his 100th in the league. He earned caps for the USMNT in 2016 and 2018.

As for the Re-Entry draft, Mikey Ambrose is headed from Atlanta United to first-year club Inter Miami CF, while fellow expansion side Nashville SC has selected Eric Miller from New York City FC.

A pair of goalkeepers are also moving, with Richard Sanchez going from Chicago to Sporting KC and Kendall McIntosh heads from Portland to the New York Red Bulls.

Sounders top Dallas in all-time, extra-time playoffs classic (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): How about one word? Insanity. Simply put, an all-time classic in MLS Cup Playoffs history. It’s a small sample size, no doubt about it, but MLS’s new single-elimination playoff format appears to have solved the problem of uninspiring early-round action. Seattle advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of Real Salt Lake versus Portland Timbers, with a 4-3 extra-time victory, but it wasn’t without 120 minutes of nonstop drama. Seattle went from 2-0 up inside the first 25 minutes, to level at 2-2 inside 65, to 3-2 up 10 minutes later, to level again with under 10 minutes of regular time remaining. They needed 113 minutes to do it, but Seattle broke the deadlock for the final time when Jordan Morris completed the first hat trick of his career.

[ MORE: Lampard “pleased for Pulisic,” praises subs in Chelsea win ]

What did we learn?

  • Sounders making magic out wide: No matter how many times they saw it, Dallas simply couldn’t slow down the Sounders wide attackers and full backs from creating superb scoring chances from out wide. This has been one of the Sounders’ greatest strengths for a couple seasons now, yet Dallas seemed wholly unprepared for it. The speed and crossing ability they have out wide is a huge problem for a lot of teams, especially when Morris and Raul Ruidiaz are moving around freely in the box.

  • Sounders’ defensive struggles unsolved: For all the chances they created on one end, Seattle couldn’t control the game or even slow it down in middle and defensive thirds. Whether it was on the counter-attack, through sustained possession by Dallas or set pieces, Seattle struggled in the worst way. Even after going ahead in extra time, Seattle stood idly by as Dallas created a couple of golden scoring chances and were so close to finding themselves level again at 4-4. They won’t have (m)any more “get out of jail free” cards to play as they advance to the latter rounds.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Jordan Morris

Goalscorers: Ruidiaz (18′), Morris (22′, 74′, 113′), Cannon (39′), Hedges (64′), Acosta (82′)

MLS Playoffs Preview: 1st round kicks off on Saturday

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After a two-week break, MLS is back, and with some outstanding matchups as the first round of the playoffs kicks off on Saturday.

Here’s a closer look at Saturday’s matchups in the Western Conference and Eastern Conference.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


2. Atlanta United v. 7. New England Revolution — Saturday, 1 p.m. ET

Atlanta United begins its title defense against the most successful coach in MLS history, Bruce Arena.

Atlanta United heads into the match at home a bit shorthanded. Miles Robinson suffered a left hamstring strain while on international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team, leaving veteran centerback Michael Parkhurst to start alongside Leandro Gonzalez Pires. There’s also some questions over whether Ezequiel Barco and Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez will start together in midfield.

All that being said, Atlanta is still one of the best teams in MLS and as long as they have Josef Martinez, they’ll be a threat to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Revs have been a revelation since Bruce Arena took over in May, and no one knows the MLS playoffs more than he. Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou have been terrific this summer for the Revs while the defense, anchored by centerbacks Andrew Farrell and Michael Mancienne and 25-year-old goalkeeper Matt Turner have kept opponents off the board.

Atlanta certainly has the edge here, especially at home, but never count out a Bruce Arena team.

2. Seattle Sounders v. 7. FC Dallas — Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

Unlike in previous years, the Seattle Sounders never needed to make a patented late-season push to make it into the playoffs. This time, the Sounders were solid throughout, especially thanks to a start that included five wins in six games. With Jordan Morris in peak form and Roman Torres and Kim Kee-Hee patrolling the middle of the backline, Seattle sure looks like an MLS Cup contender. Of course, they’d have to get past LAFC first, no small task.

For FC Dallas, in a way, they’re just happy to be here. It seems like forever, but was less than a year ago when club legend Oscar Pareja left for the Club Tijuana manager spot. In his place was local soccer legend and former FC Dallas academy director Luchi Gonzalez, and with a mostly young squad of players, Gonzalez has proven he could guide them to the playoffs. It doesn’t hurt though that one of the few veterans, Zdenek “Cobra” Ondrášek, has been on fire the last two months and just scored for the Czech Republic against England. The Sounders should take care of business at home, but Jesus Ferreira and Paxton Pomykal can create something out of nothing and could make Saturday’s match interesting/

4. Toronto FC v. 5. DC United — Saturday, 6 p.m. ET

With the regular season concluded and the start of single-elimination matches, we’re on the verge of saying goodbye to Wayne Rooney at any moment, and it could come as early as Saturday.

Thanks to a win and some other favorable results, Toronto FC jumped up in the standings and earned a home playoff match. It doesn’t hurt that it’s been very solid to close out the season, going unbeaten in its last 10 matches – though to be fair, that span only included four wins. Worryingly for TFC is that striker Jozy Altidore didn’t practice on Thursday after missing the international break with yet another muscle injury. However, his Canadian international teammates Jonathan Osorio, Liam Fraser, and Richie Laryea are returning to the club side on a high after beating the U.S.

For D.C. it’s been an up and down last few weeks. They picked up huge wins over Portland and Seattle in the final two months of the season, only to settle for scoreless draws against the porous New York Red Bulls and abject horror show in FC Cincinnati. As always, there will be plenty of pressure on Rooney to produce some magic, and his side will need it if they want to keep their season alive. Toronto, playing at home, has the edge here.

3. Real Salt Lake v. 6. Portland Timbers — Saturday, 10 p.m. ET

Mike Petke was fired by Real Salt Lake in mid-August after serving a two-week suspension for berating the referee – and saying some unacceptable terms – after a Leagues Cup game in July. In his place, interim coach Freddy Juarez has done quite well with the squad, winning seven games in the final three months of the season to cruise into a top-three place and earn a home game in the playoffs.

Former Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers defender Nedum Onuoha has been a rock at the back alongside youngster Justin Glad, and RSL may have the most underrated attack in the league. Albert Rusnak, Damir Kreilach and Jefferson Savarino have all been brilliant at points this season. If the trio put it together, RSL could be a dark horse for the title.

The Timbers beat expectations a year ago as Giovanni Savarese led his team to another final – his fourth straight final as a coach. It will be an incredible achievement if they make it this time around. Portland has elite offensive capabilities when everyone is firing on all cylanders. Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, and even Dairon Asprilla can create moments of magic, while Jeremy Ebobisse has had a breakout season with 11 goals, though he’s missed a few he’ll want back. The issue is the team defensively, and they’ll have to be on their game to slow to RSL’s front three on the road.

Of course, the Timbers did win both matchups against RSL this season, so even on the road, they should be confident they can get it done again.