Unveiling the Game-Changers: A Journey through the Major League Soccer Transfer
Rising Stars United: FC Cincinnati Snags Homegrown Maestro Gerardo Valenzuela
‘Dado’ Valenzuela, a Cincinnati native, has signed a contract with FC Cincinnati that runs through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027–28, the team announced on Thursday.
The 18-year-old is the fifth player now on the FC Cincinnati squad and the seventh FC Cincinnati academy graduate to sign a first-team contract. In August 2020, Valenzuela joined the FC Cincinnati academy and started playing for the U-17 and U-19 squads. In 22 games (20 starts), he has two goals and three assists for FCC 2 in MLS Next Pro.
Arquimides Ordoez, a Guatemalan international, has been Cincinnati’s most significant homegrown player. Malik Pinto, a rookie midfielder, also attended the club’s academy.
Blazing the Future: Chicago Fire Locks in Mauricio Pineda with Thrilling Contract Extension
Chicago Fire FC announced on Wednesday that it had extended the contract of native-born defender/midfielder Mauricio Pineda through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027.
After playing collegiate soccer at UNC-Chapel Hill, Pineda, 25, initially signed with Chicago before the 2020 MLS season. In 90 league games (78 starts) with the team, he has five goals and four assists to his credit. He has participated in 11 games this year, making four starts.
Pineda was awarded the 2020 Chicago Fire FC Defensive Player of the Year after being the first homegrown player in club history to start each game of the season. Pineda has represented the United States internationally at the U-18, U-20, and U-23 levels. Pineda assisted the squad in 2015 in capturing a national championship for the academy before joining Chicago’s main team.
Samba Showdown: Luiz Arajo Dazzles as Atlanta United Transfers him to Flamengo
With the unexpected departure of prominent winger Luiz Arajo to Brazilian Serie A powerhouse Flamengo announced on Thursday, Atlanta United is selling one of the most important players on their squad.
The 26-year-old will remain with the team through their match at the New York Red Bulls on June 24 before moving to the Mengo. He signed with the Five Stripes in the summer of 2021 in one of Major League Soccer‘s most expensive inbound transfers ever (reportedly for $10 million plus another $2 million in incentives). The departure of Arajo frees up a designated player spot for Atlanta prior to the secondary transfer window of the league, which is open from July 5 to Aug 2. Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, an offseason addition, are the team’s other two designated players.
Arajo never quite attained the heights anticipated for him in Atlanta despite his costly price tag and the high expectations that came with his arrival from the then-Ligue 1 champion Lille. In 56 regular-season games (51 starts), the Brazilian has contributed 11 goals and 12 assists. During his first season, he also made one Audi MLS Cup Playoffs appearance with the Five Stripes.
He is on track for his finest MLS season, though, with 3 goals and 2 assists thus far in 2023. Arajo most recently scored in Matchday 13’s 4-0 rout of the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, earning him a spot on the Audi Team of the Matchday sponsored by Audi.
Arajo is the most significant contract to be released from the club’s payroll under the leadership of the new CEO and President Garth Lagerwey. Since taking command in November 2022, Lagerwey has presided over Marcelino Moreno’s season-long loan to Coritiba and Alan Franco’s move to So Paulo.
Flamengo reportedly paid $10 million to sign Arajo, sending an Atlanta player to the Brazilian Serie A again. The Five Stripes will probably rely even more on Almada’s offensive after this maneuver. But the World Cup champion from Argentina is also anticipated to leave the team sooner rather than later, likely fetching a league-record transfer cost.
In contrast, Giakoumakis, playing as Atlanta’s No. 9, has adapted well in his first season, scoring six goals in nine games. In the offensive, head coach Gonzalo Pineda may pick among players like Derrick Etienne Jr., Tyler Wolff, and Machop Chol, who are homegrown.