Major League Soccer

Columbus Crew signs Sebastian Berhalter
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Sebastian Berhalter signs Homegrown deal with Columbus Crew

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The Columbus Crew have signed Sebastian Berhalter to a Homegrown Player deal.

The 19-year-old midfielder is the son of former Crew and current USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter.

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Sebastian played 17 times for the University of North Carolina as a freshman, starting nine of those games. He went 210 minutes in twin extra time matches to close UNC’s season.

Here’s Crew general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, via a team release:

“As a longtime member of the Crew SC Academy, Sebastian is someone who understands the values and ideology of our Club. We are happy to see him join the professional ranks after a successful year at the college level and look forward to his continued development with the Crew.”

Sebastian praised the role of his parents in his development in a video interview. Gregg was a UNC star in his college days before moving to Europe to play for PEC Zwolle, Crystal Palace, and Energie Cottbus amongst others.

“My parents have been very influential on my career,” said the player. “They’ve helped me so much. They’ve always stayed positive to me, but also pushed me in a good way and I cannot thank them enough.”

Sebastian repped the U.S. at the U-16 level. Could dad and he one day join Bob and Michael Bradley as father-son USMNT combos? That’s a long way off and presumes dad turns around the national team, but would be a remarkable achievement.

Defending champ Sounders open camp with plenty of questions

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TUKWILA, Wash. — Barely two months after celebrating their second MLS Cup title, the Seattle Sounders opened training camp Tuesday in a winter snowstorm.

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The thin layer of snow on the practice field was hardly the biggest obstacle facing Seattle after a challenging offseason. Players have departed and the team has struggled to finalize new signings – not to mention league-wide uncertainty regarding negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.

All told, it’s been a quiet break for a team trying to build on last year’s title run.

“That offseason after you win is always the roughest offseason because everyone gets recruited, right?” general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “Understandably and correctly, everyone’s like, `Oh, you have a really good team, we want your players. And so players get other opportunities. So we have to always work through that. And if you combine that with not having a CBA, that’s been really tough.”

The Sounders will return the core of a roster that led Seattle to its second league championship, but Lagerwey would like to make supplemental additions, especially entering a season where depth will be tested due to the number of competitions Seattle faces. Along with the MLS season, the Sounders will also be in the CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup and the Campeones Cup against the champion of LigaMX.

Making those additions would be easier for Lagerwey and coach Brian Schmetzer if Seattle knew the structure of the CBA. Right now, it’s all a guessing game.

“They’ll tell us when they tell us, and when they tell us, then we’ll jump in and do everything we can,” Lagerwey said. “In the meantime, you wind up as a GM doing more work because you have to have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C, and you might not be able to execute any of them.”

The uncertainty of the CBA has a major trickle-down for Seattle, especially in its more glaring area of need along its defense. The Sounders started camp with just one center back in Xavier Arreaga and in need of a left defender. Roman Torres signed with Inter Miami in the offseason, and both Kim Kee-hee and Brad Smith – key contributors to Seattle’s defense – are unlikely to return, Lagerwey said.

Midfielder Victor Rodriguez, who scored the key second goal in the final victory over Toronto, is also not returning to Seattle.

For now, a thin roster is fine. But Seattle begins its busy season on Feb. 20 when it starts play in the Champions League. The Sounders open the MLS season on March 1 hosting Chicago.

“It’s challenging to open training camp without perhaps a full roster,” Schmetzer said. “I can’t hide from that fact. But that’s part of life.”

LA Galaxy ‘serious’ about signing Chicharito

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Okay, this Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to LA Galaxy report has moved on quite quickly.

Chicharito, 31, has been linked with a move from Sevilla to the Galaxy and it appears that a deal for Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer is getting closer as the most successful team in Major League Soccer history badly need a new star man.

If it goes through it would be for a franchise-record transfer fee of close to $10 million.

The Galaxy’s general manager Dennis te Kloese told the LA Times that they are pushing hard to sign Hernandez, who has played in just two La Liga games for Sevilla since November after his summer transfer from West Ham in the Premier League.

“I think he could be good for us. We’ll give it a serious try,” te Kloese said, as the report claims LA and Sevilla are in advanced negotiations.

Hernandez would link up with El Tri teammate Jonathan dos Santos at the Galaxy and he knows te Kloese well as he previously was the director of Mexico’s national teams.

Over the years it is tough to keep count of how many MLS teams Chicharito has been linked with a move to but it always seemed like a LA would work out, somehow, for the former Chivas and Manchester United.

Chicharito recently stated that he would be open to a move to MLS and the Galaxy need a Designated Player, and new star striker, to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic who left at the end of his contract following the conclusion of the 2019 season.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side start preseason training this weekend and it is believed they want Hernandez to be part of it. Things may not move that quickly but the wheels are in motion for the Galaxy to replace Zlatan and for Hernandez to become the latest in a long line of stars to call the LA Galaxy home.

Report: Chicharito to meet with Galaxy officials to seal $10M deal

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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is on the brink of completing a move to MLS.

The 31-year-old Mexican striker and Los Angeles Galaxy officials are set to meet on Monday to negotiate a contract, according to Marca.

It is reported that Galaxy will pay Sevilla $10 million for El Tri’s all-time leading goalscorer, who moved to Spain on a three-year deal in September from West Ham for $11 million.

Chicharito has reportedly given Los Angeles a “yes” on a proposed offer, and is now only a signature away from joining compatriots Carlos Vela and Jonathan dos Santos in the City of Angels. The forward has been linked to MLS for several years, but is now closer to league than ever before.

Sevilla recently notified Hernandez that he’s not Julen Lopetegui’s first choice at striker, a position that former PSV star Luuk De Jong and Munir El Haddadi are currently battling for. With the desire to be a regular starter at this stage of his career, Galaxy’s offer for Hernandez to be the face of the club entertains the Mexico international.

In late 2019, Chicharito admitted that he’d be open to a move to MLS. “Yes. Definitely,” Hernandez said. “Look, I am always thinking about my future. I want to be as open as I can to any opportunity. MLS is a league that is improving. It is an opportunity. Every league is an opportunity.”

Hernandez, who had successful spells at Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen, has made nine league appearances for Sevilla this season, scoring once.

Hermann Trophy winner Robinson leads MLS SuperDraft picks

Hermann Trophy winner highlights MLS SuperDraft picks
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Clemson forward Robbie Robinson capped off a strong season by becoming the first draft pick for Inter Miami in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-2 Robinson scored 18 times with nine assists as a junior as Clemson went 18-2-2 before falling to Stanford in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Tigers had three players selected on Thursday.

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College players from 13 countries found professional homes by the end of the draft’s first two rounds.

Twenty-nine Americans were selected, with Canada and England boasting four each to finish joint-second. Senegal, Germany, Denmark, France, and Spain had two players selected, with Ireland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Brazil and Mexico each placing one on the board.

Round 1
1. Inter Miami – Robbie Robinson, Clemson
2. Nashville – Jack Maher, Indiana
3. Inter Miami – Dylan Nealis, Georgetown
4. Vancouver – Ryan Raposo, Syracuse
5. Orlando City – Daryl Dike, Virginia
6. New England – Henry Kessler, Virginia
7. Columbus – Miguel Berry, San Diego
8. Houston – Garrett McLaughlin, Southern Methodist
9. Montreal – Jeremy Kelly, North Carolina (traded to Montreal)
10. New York Red Bulls – Patrick Seagrist, Marquette
11. Nashville – Alistair Johnston, Wake Forest
12. San Jose – Tanner Bearson, Stanford
13. Nashville – Elliot Panicco, Charlotte
14. FC Dallas – Nkosi Burgess, Seattle
15. New York Red Bulls – Cherif Dieye, Louisville
16. Portland – Aaron Molloy, Penn State
17. FC Fallas – Cal Jennings, Central Florida
18. Minnesota – Noah Billingsley, UC Santa Barbara
19. Toronto FC – Nyall Higgins, Syracuse
20. Real Salt Lake – Dayonn Harris, UConn
21. DC United – Simon Lefebvre, Temple
22. NYCFC – Jesus Perez, UIC
23. Atlanta United – Patrick Nielsen, Michigan State
24. LAFC – Paulo Pita, Marshall
25. Toronto – Ifunanyachi Achara, Georgetown
26. Chicago – Jonathan Jimenez, Pacific

Round 2
27. San Jose – Jack Skahan, North Carolina
28. Nashville – Tanner Dieterich, Clemson
29. Cincinnati – Rey Ortiz, Portland
30. New England – Simon Lekressner, California
31. Orlando – Joey DeZart, Wake Forest
32. Vancouver – Daniel Gagliardi, FIU
33. Toronto – Malick Mbaye, Clemson
34. Houston – Luka Prpa, Marquette
35. Seattle – Danny Reynolds, Wilmington
36. New York Red Bulls – Wallis Lapsley, UC Davis
37. Colorado – Robin Afamefuna, Virginia
38. San Jose – Jon Bell, UMBC
39. Orlando – Jonathan Dean, Central Florida
40. Dallas – Manuel Ferriol, James Madison
41. New York Red Bulls – Deri Corfe, Wright State
42. DC United – Josh Fawole, Loyola
43. New England – Keegan Meyer, High Point
44. Orlando – Austin Aviza, Providence
45. LA Galaxy – Tom Smart, Akron
46. Real Salt Lake – Michael Wetungu, Michigan State
47. Columbus – Remi Prieur, Saint Mary’s
48. NYCFC – Felicien Dumas, Notre Dame
49. Columbus – Danny Griffin, Providence
50. LAFC – Jack Hallahan, Michigan
51. Toronto – Simon Waever, Indiana
52. Seattle – Timo Mehlich, UNLV