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Inter Miami hires Diego Alonso as first head coach
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Inter Miami hires Diego Alonso as first head coach

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Inter Miami finally has its first manager.

Diego Alonso is the man for the honor, the 44-year-old a two-time CONCACAF Champions League winner.

He led Pachuca to the Clausura 2016 title and a third place finish at the 2017 Club World Cup. He won 42 percent of his matches at Pachuca and 56 percent during his time with Monterrey.

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Inter Miami CF Sporting Director Paul McDonough said this about the hire, via the team’s web site.

“In Diego we found a manager that fits our culture and has a strong desire to build a winning club for our fans. He brings a lot of experience and championship-winning mentality as we begin our drive to be among the best clubs in the Americas. We have big aspirations for our club and believe Diego has the right drive, passion and leadership to accomplish our goals.”

A well-traveled striker during his playing days, Alonso was capped eight times.

Alonso will have some interesting ingredients for his first team. There’s plenty of MLS experience in goalkeeper Luis Robles, defenders Roman Torres and Alvas Powell, and forward Juan Agudelo.

Teenage playmaker Matias Pellegrini is the club’s first Designated Player, and more are sure to come in January. Pedro has been most recently linked, joining a long list of names connected to David Beckham’s long-awaited MLS project.

Report: Inter Miami set to hire Diego Alonso as first head coach

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Inter Miami are reportedly on the brink of announcing their first-ever head coach.

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According to ESPN’s Jorge Ramos y su Banda, David Beckham’s new expansion side have reached an agreement to appoint Diego Alonso as the team’s first head coach. The report states that an official announcement from the MLS side is set for Monday.

Alonso, 44, most recently was at the helm of Monterrey, winning the Concacaf Champions League with the deep-pocketed Mexican club in May of 2019. Prior to his time with Rayados, Alonso was in charge of Pachuca, where he won the Clausura in 2016 and Concacaf Champions League in 2017 during his four-year spell with the club.

As a player, Alonso’s 16-year career saw him play in Mexico, Argentina, China, Spain and his native Uruguay. In addition to his club career, Alonso recorded eight caps with the Uruguayan national team.

Inter Miami, who will debut in MLS in March against LAFC, had reportedly been in talks with Patrick Viera and Carlo Ancelotti recently.

Less than a month removed from preseason, the Florida franchise has yet to complete its roster, although the Beckham and company are set to sign MLS veterans Juan Agudelo and Roman Torres at “significantly lower salary figures,” according to The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio.

USMNT’s Gonzalez: “I think that we’re in good hands”

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Omar Gonzalez might’ve planned to be doing promotional duty ahead of this summer’s World Cup, but not solely as an observer of the biggest tournament in the world.

But Gonzalez, 29, and his United States men’s national teammates fell short in their World Cup qualifying bid, losing in Trinidad and Tobago when a draw would’ve done the trick.

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Despite his own goal and a still bewildered disappointment in his voice, the Liga MX center back says he’ll be watching and cheering for fellow CONCACAF nations when the tournament starts next week in Russia.

“I am Mexican, I’ve lived there now for three years and I have friends on the team, some of my teammates are on the team,” said Gonzalez, who was born in Texas to Mexican parents.

“I have a friend who plays for Costa Rica, so I’m definitely not bitter. I’ll be cheering them on and I hope they represent CONCACAF well. I’m looking forward to seeing Mexico hopefully get past the group stage and see how far they can go. My teammate Erick Gutierrez and my former teammate Chucky Lozano, I’m really pulling for them and I hope they have a good tournament.”

Gonzalez was speaking to ProSoccerTalk on behalf of Clamato and their promotion of a michelada, a drink made when the tomato and clam juice drink is mixed with beer and spices (Gonzalez suggests hot sauce).

Like many of his veteran USMNT teammates, Gonzalez has not been called into national team camp since that fateful night at Ato Boldon Stadium. That evening saw him produce an own goal and the United States end a seven tournament run as World Cup participants.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

That also loss cued up a number of big changes for U.S. Soccer. Bruce Arena resigned his post, and president Sunil Gulati did not run for another term. Carlos Cordeiro is now in charge of the federation, and the USSF has hired team centurion Earnie Stewart to help find its new manager.

Gonzalez is hoping things calm down a bit around the team.

“I think that we’re in good hands,” he said of the Stewart hire. “Everyone knows that change was needed. Change has happened, and now it’s about moving forward.”

As for his hopes of returning to the team — 29 is not old for a center back — Gonzalez looks forward to a chance for redemption, but is not expecting anything. What he would like to see is a little more organization, hunger, and commitment from the men who are called into the team.

“I just like for things to be running smoothly and when guys go into camps, they are there for the team, to wear their jersey with pride and get along with everyone. It doesn’t happen all the time, but knowing what’s happened with not qualifying and all the things that went wrong, it’s in everyone’s best interest to put everything behind themselves. When they do get together, it has to be all about the team and how they can come together to get the results they need to get.

“I’m liking the changes that are happening with the GM, and looking forward to a new coach, and seeing the direction they takes. I’m happy they are giving these young guys opportunity. I’m think they are moving in the right direction and I’m interested in seeing how it all comes to fruition, and I hope to still be a part of the group and do what I can to help the program and help the young guys if that’s what I have to do, just whatever it takes.”

Is he hopeful of a return to national team duty? Yes, but he’s not necessarily expecting it.

“I’m at the point where I’m just hoping it does come at some point, but if it doesn’t, I’m totally fine with that. I have to focus on my club play and get better every day. If I do happen to get a call-up, I’ll be super excited and ready to go in and join the team. Until it happens, it’s not going through my mind.”

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It so happened that our conversation took place hours after a reported agreement to send Gonzalez from Pachuca to Atlas. Gonzalez says “nothing’s done yet” regarding the proposed transfer.

“It’s been all over the Internet, but either I’m going or I’m staying at Pachuca. Nothing is official.”

(Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

A product of Maryland, Gonzalez was the third overall pick of the LA Galaxy in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. He was Rookie of the Year, won three MLS Cups and two Supporters Shields, and was in the league’s Best XI in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014.

He transferred to Pachuca in 2016, winning the Clausura in his first season and then the CONCACAF Champions League in 2017.

The split season is the biggest difference between MLS and Liga MX, Gonzalez says, adding that the desperation is consistent.

“Both leagues are very competitive but the biggest difference for me is that every game is really tough,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes in MLS, the season is long and there are some games, you hate to say, but that don’t really matter. You hit that period in May and April and the games just aren’t that interesting. For Liga MX, there are two short seasons, two playoffs, you only have 17 games, and there’s that stress that goes along with losing a couple of games and feeling the pressure from everywhere. Every game matters, and every game is a big game.”

Would he like to see that in MLS?

“It could be fun to have that implemented but it’s difficult because how big the U.S. is and the differences in how cold it can get and how hot it can get.”

As for the World Cup, Gonzalez thinks the winner won’t be coming from UEFA for the first time in more than a decade.

“I’ve been saying I want Brazil to win it. I feel really bad the way it ended in Brazil in 2014. They have a great team, and I think they can make a final and maybe finish this one off.”

Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

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All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET

Manneh done in Columbus, MLS; signs for Mexico’s Pachuca

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One of the most electrifying (if not frustrating and short-on-end-product) players to ever come through MLS has spurned a future MLS, in favor of a move south of the United States-Mexico border.

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22-year-old Kekuta Manneh, who was drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2013 at the age of 18 before being traded to Columbus Crew SC in March of this year, has signed with Liga MX side Pachuca on a free transfer, the club announced on Tuesday.

Born in The Gambia and moved to Texas at the age of 15, Manneh became an American citizen during his time in Vancouver (he maintained residency this side of the U.S.-Canada border his entire time with the team in order to do so), and was subsequently called in this year’s January camp without appearing in the post-camp friendlies.

Crew SC’s move to acquire Manneh, which cost them midfielder Tony Tchani and $300,000 in combined allocation money, netter the (perhaps) Austin, Tex.,-bound team four goals and three assists before losing the player without receiving a single dollar in transfer fees. Columbus will, however, retain Manneh’s MLS rights.

It’s been a solid 24 months since we’ve seen anything resembling Manneh’s best, let alone the potential pinned on him early in his career. The blazing speed he possesses in the open field has rarely been harnessed and used to produce the kind of end product that many thought could eventually make him an elite attacker in MLS and set him on his way for a move to Europe.