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Blue Notes: $20 Million for Pepi, MLS News and Rumors, US Open Cup

If you missed last week, there have been a ton of transfer moves in and around MLS, particularly since the European window opened.

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MLS: Sporting Kansas City at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The week between Christmas and New Years is a slow news week for Major League Soccer in general. Staffs take the week off to get some recovery in before a short offseason wraps up and preseason kicks off. But that doesn’t mean there is no news, as there were some pretty big transactions and rumors that went down. Let’s get caught up.

Pepi Sold for $20 Million!

USMNT and FC Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi is on the move. He’ll be joining Bundesliga club FC Augsburg for $20 million plus add ons (Update: the team confirmed it).

That only places him behind Alphonso Davies in MLS Homegrown players being transferred out (Gianluca Busio is on the list too). It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out for Pepi. The teenager could use this as a stepping stone to something greater, or he could stumble, as many have before him. Now at least fans won’t be mad when he’s called into the National Team since he’s not in MLS anymore. What an academy Dallas has. I still don’t get firing Luchi Gonzalez or why no one else tapped him to run their academy.

Pepi will immediately be joining a relegation battle as Augsburg is one point above the relegation playoff in Germany. It remains to see if that’ll be good for him after fellow USMNT strikers Josh Sargent and Bobby Wood struggled at times in Germany.

Bryan Reynolds back to MLS?

Another one of the biggest transfers in MLS history, and another FC Dallas product, Bryan Reynolds is rumored to be getting a loan back to MLS. Sporting Kansas City find themselves without a right-back but this doesn’t make sense for my money (I only bring it up because I saw social media accounts asking for it).

Reynolds is now 20, but SKC already have a similar prospect in 18-year-old Kayden Pierre. I’d rather see him play over taking a loan and developing someone else’s talent. Reynolds only has 15 starts in MLS and somehow translated that into $8.5 million to go to AS Roma. He played well, but that’s some serious good business from Dallas after they had just sold Reggie Cannon just before that (Cannon was ahead of Reynolds on the depth chart).

Let’s make Pierre the next Reynolds instead of burying him on the bench.

Anderlecht is rumored to be the destination currently, so this isn’t happening with KC, but I had to mention it.

SKC and the US Open Cup

The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is hopefully returning after a two year hiatus brought on by the pandemic. The 2022 version of the tournament is currently set to have Sporting KC enter in the round of 32. 17 MLS teams enter a round earlier in the third round, but because Sporting finished higher up the table they get to join a round later.

In prior seasons, most MLS teams joined in the round of 32, but a format change came for the 2022 version seeing a chunk of teams start earlier. This will allow up to 24 lower division teams to a chance to advance to the round of 32, versus only 11 having that chance in 2019. All 17 MLS teams coming in for the third round will face a lower division opponent. If more of them were to advance, that increases the likelihood Sporting would have a new opponent instead of just playing the same old teams again.

Miramontez to NWSLPA

Recently retired Kansas City Current defender Sydney Miramontez will be continuing her soccer journey. The KC native will join the NWSLPA in only their second full time staffed position. It sounds like she’ll wear many hats in her new role and it’ll be interesting to see the role she plays in bringing the NWSL their first collective bargaining agreement with the players.

MLS News and Rumors

  • Current Designated Players, Albert Rusnak and Sebastian Blanco, appear to be on the move. Blanco’s new suitors are unnamed but the Seattle Sounders are tied to Albert Rusnak. The rich get richer. And Real Salt Lake get much poorer, so I’m not super sad about it.
  • Caden Clark is returning to the New York Red Bulls from RB Leipzig on loan for pandemic related reasons. I imagine he’ll join Leipzig in the summer for the start of their season.
  • Orlando City striker Daryl Dike joins English Championship side West Bromwich Albion on a transfer deal worth $9.5 million plus a 20% sell on fee. That’s good business for Orlando, but it shows just how damn good Peter Vermes is at squeezing out money considering they got more for Busio.
  • Maxi Morales will return to MLS Cup Champions, New York City FC, for the 2022 season. The deal will make the player a former Designated Player, as he’s agreed to a lower salary. That makes sense because he’s going to be 35 in the coming weeks. He was an integral part of their title run, so it’s good business to bring him back.
  • One of the more sought after free agents in MLS was RBNY midfielder Sean Davis. The soon to be 29-year-old will join Mike Jacob’s team at Nashville SC. That’s going to be a tough midfield to play through.
  • Inter Miami CF are rumored to be loaning one of their DPs, Rodolfo Pizzaro, to CF Monterrey in Liga MX. It would be a return for him, after being a disappointment in MLS. He’ll probably be a star there as he’ll be surrounded by a lot more talent than Miami could give him, despite their best efforts to circumvent the salary budget.
  • Speaking of DPs going on loan, Austin FC have verbally agreed to send Tomas Pochettino to River Plate on a one-year loan deal with a purchase option. Despite playing most of the games last year, he only had two goals and two assists. That would free up one of their DP slots.
  • NYCFC midfielder James Sands could be heading to Scotland to play for Rangers. The move is rumored to be a loan with a purchase option. Johnny Russell will have another reason to root against Sands now since he’s a huge Celtic fan.
  • In, ‘he won’t be a backup striker in KC’ news, Maxi Urruti has agreed to join Austin FC. He’ll now have played for all the MLS Texas teams. If Robert Beric doesn’t actually sign with SKC (after being drafted from the Chicago Fire), Urruti would have made a ton of sense as he plays very similarly to Alan Pulido.
  • Toronto FC are spending all the money as they are tied to Napoli forward (and captain!) Lorenzo Insigne. He would reportedly join in the summer of 2022 and make a record shattering $13 million per season. He’s already 30 and the deal is rumored to be for five seasons. That’s a lot of money to be tied up, but it’s a huge deal for now.
  • 2021 MLS Golden Boot winner, Taty Castellanos, may be on the move. A rumor has Palmeiras, in Brazil, offering $12.5 million for the New York City forward.
  • Nashville SC center back Alistair Johnson was traded to CF Montreal for $1 million in General Allocation Money (GAM). I’m not going to lie, I had no idea he was worth anything near that. The question is, will he be as good without Walker Zimmerman next to him?
  • 19-year-old USMNT and Atlanta United left back, George Bello, could be set for a move to Premier League side Watford. It’s just one potential option, though nothing is concrete.