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MLS comings & goings: Kitchen, Castillo, Henley arrive for 2018

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The next two weeks, leading up to players reporting for the start of preseason, are sure to be chock-full of signings made by all 23 MLS teams. A handful of key deals have been announced in the last 24 hours alone…

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For the last three seasons, the LA Galaxy attempted to play without a functioning midfield. It turned out… well, quite poorly, particularly in 2017 when Curt Onalfo’s Sigi Schmid’s side finished dead last in MLS, for the first time ever. Enter: Perry Kitchen (from D.C. United, for $300,000 in combined allocation money), five-year MLS veteran and fringe-U.S. national team defensive midfielder seeking a new club after two years in Europe (Hearts and Randers). Kitchen, who’s (somehow) still only 25, has more than 150 MLS appearances to his name (plus another 50-plus from his time in Europe). The Kitchen-Jonathan dos Santos/Joao Pedro double-pivot is a fantastic foundational unit. 7/10 — not flashy or sexy, but highly functional and priority no. 1

After finishing 20th in 2017, the Colorado Rapids’ massive rebuild has begun. Enter: USMNT and Monterrey left back Edgar Castillo, and Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Jack Price. Castillo is 31 and brings a wealth of experience at the club and international levels. Price, 25, joined the Wolves academy at the age of 8, and never left (save for a pair of loan spells) and made nearly 100 appearances between League One and the Championship. 5.5/10 — plugs a pair of holes with replacement-level (maybe slightly above) starters

For the first half of 2017, Real Salt Lake were arguably the worst team in MLS; for the second half of the season, Mike Petke’s side was inarguably one of the best (and youngest), ultimately missing the playoffs by a single point. So far this winter, RSL have made Brooks Lennon’s loan permanent, signed 26-year-old Spanish forward Alfredo Ortuño, and on Tuesday completed their capture of 23-year-old right back Adam Henley — an American-born Welsh international. As he’s only ever appeared in friendlies for Wales (and never played for U.S. youth national teams), Henley would be eligible for a one-time switch, should his development and play warrant such a move. 6/10 — a starting right back with upside, without giving anything away in a trade

Giles Barnes, 29, has bounced around MLS in recent seasons — from Vancouver, to Houston, to Orlando, all since 2016. Now, the English-born Jamaican international is headed south of the border, to Leon, where he’s been given a Cristiano Ronaldo-like VIP welcome.

Other lesser-known (but perhaps just as impactful) signings in MLS

Columbus Crew SC — 21-year-old Venezuelan midfielder Eduardo Sosa, from Venezuelan side Zamora (FULL RELEASE)

Minnesota United — 24-year-old Cameroonian attacker (2 caps, 1 goal) Frantz Pangop, from Cameroonian side Union Douala (FULL RELEASE)

New York City signs longtime Atalanta mid to DP deal

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Maxi Moralez is headed for Yankee Stadium, New York City FC announced its third Designated Player on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Argentine midfielder has a knack for the final pass, and was a difference maker for several seasons in the Serie A with Atalanta.

More recently, he posted seven goals and 10 assists for Leon in Liga MX.

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Moralez is fired up to play for Patrick Vieira, and alongside Andrea Pirlo and David Villa. Here’s what else he had to say, from NewYorkCityFC.com:

“Maxi is dynamic, he’s direct and he’s very good in one v. one situations. He can create chances and can score goals. He’s a really creative player who can make an assist – he can create something from nothing and I believe that our fans will love him.”

WATCH LIVE: Club Leon vs. Sinaloa in Liga MX finale (Live Stream)

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Club Leon seeks second-place in the Apertura when it battles Liga MX bottom feeders Dorados de Sinaloa at the Estadia Leon on Saturday night (Watch live, 9 p.m. ET on NBC Universo and En Vivo Extra).

[ MORE: Premier League roundup ]

USMNT players William Yarbrough and Miguel Ibarra are both on the Club Leon roster — Yarbrough is the No. 2 keeper while Ibarra has played sparingly as a sub — for a match with top-end implications for their side and relegation danger for the visitors.

WATCH LIVE AND ONLINE VIA EN VIVO EXTRA

The playoff field is yet to be decided, with a cluster of teams needing wins on the final day.

Report: Klinsmann calling up León goalkeeper William Yarbrough for March friendlies

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Mexican journalist Ruben Rodriguez is reporting that USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann has followed up his high praise of León goalkeeper William Yarbrough by calling him into camp for this month’s friendlies with Denmark and Switzerland.

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Last week, American Soccer Now reported that Klinsmann said, “With Ventura Alvarado, we have a kid we have watched several times.William Yarbrough, the goalie at Club León, we like him a lot. We are in touch with these two. There are a couple of youngsters in Germany coming through with the possibilities to play for us. There is one kid in England.”

There’s no word on whether Alvarado will get a call as well, but on Yarbrough:

— Age: 25 (26 on Saturday).

— Born in Mexico to emigrants from Texas.

— Has made 60 appearances for the Green Bellies and won the 2014 Clausura.

 

Report: Rafa Marquez offered one-year deal from Lazio

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El Tri star Rafa Marquez could be skipping Leon to join Serie A side Lazio, as the Rome-based side has reportedly offered the defender a one-year deal with the potential for more.

The Eagles recently added young Dutch star Stefan de Vrij to strengthen their defense, and Marquez would give them even more depth and experience.

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Lazio finished ninth in Serie A last season, allowing 54 goals, a figure that put the club in the bottom half of the league in goals allowed. Still, Lazio finished just four points back of fifth and nine points back of fourth.

A stint with Lazio would be Marquez’s first in Italy. The 35-year-old back played at Atlas, Barcelona, Monaco, and New York Red Bulls before joining up with Leon in 2013, helping the club to Apertura and Clausura titles in consecutive seasons.