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Sweezy's News And Notes From Around MLS

By Tom Sweezy

Miguel Araujo (Photo courtesy of Portland Timbers)

Peruvian International Defender Heading To The Rose City:

The Portland Timbers acquired Peruvian international center-back Miguel Araujo on Friday, June 30th from Dutch club FC Emmen. The 28-year-old defender has been with FC Emmen since 2019 and since then has racked up over 110 appearances for the club, including 12 goals and 4 assists. Araujo won the Eerste Divisie (Dutch 2nd Division) in 2022 with FC Emmen and was named the club’s Player of the Year for the 2020/2021 European season. Araujo also had success in his career with league titles coming from his time at Club Alianza Lima, winning the Liga 1 title, as well as winning the Serbian SuperLiga with Red Star Belgrade.

Where does Araujo fit in with the Timbers? Well as The Athletic’s Tom Bogert reported in one of his MLS transfer pieces, the Timbers have been interested in a new starting center-back since trading Bill Tuiloma to Charlotte FC earlier this season. In my opinion, the club has seen some success in 2023 with now Canadian international defender Zac McGraw stepping into a starting role. Along with Dario Župarić and Larrys Mabiala, the Timbers now are rounding out an experienced but talented center-back core.

Minnesota United Sign First Player From MLS Next Pro:

Adrian Heath has decided to sign his first player from the Loon’s MLS Next Pro side, midfielder/winger Emmanuel Iwe. The 22-year-old Nigerian-born talent has made four appearances for the first team already in his career, with one appearance coming in the U.S. Open Cup where he scored. A majority of his career appearances have come with the Minnesota United 2 side where he has scored 6 goals and 3 assists in 28 games. According to Jacob Schneider who covers the Loons for Sota Soccer, Iwe has had an amazing journey to the first team. He has gone from an open MLS Next Pro tryout to now playing within MLS.

Iwe joins a Minnesota United attack in need of goal-scoring talent. Currently, Minnesota United has one of the lowest goal-scoring totals in MLS. The Loons did bring in new DP striker Teemu Pukki (who I wrote about in my last article) as well as had the return of star attacking midfielder Emmanuel Reynoso. I feel that Iwe might be able to add some much-needed depth out wide for Minnesota United, especially with the recent season-ending injury to star Robin Lod.

LA Galaxy Waive 27-Year-Old Sega Coulibaly:

MLS veteran center-back Séga Coulibaly has now been waived by Head Coach Greg Vanney and the Los Angeles Galaxy. The former French youth international racked up 53 appearances for the Galaxy between 2021 and 2023. However, with an injury and only 87 minutes played this season, Coulibaly is gone from the Galaxy.

Part of the reason why Coulibaly became expendable for this Galaxy side resides in the growth of current U.S. Men’s National Team center-back Jalen Neal. The 19-year-old defender has developed into one of the best youth talents in Major League Soccer this 2023 season with a bright future ahead. Another reason why Coulibaly has been released seems to be a current injury he has picked up. According to this tweet from The Corner of the Galaxy Podcast, Vanney wanted to leave the news of his waiver around some “undisclosed medical reasons”.

Vancouver Whitecaps Sign Goalscorer From Canadian Championship:

The Vancouver Whitecaps have signed their 3rd player from their MLS Next Pro side. This time, the Whitecaps have signed 24-year-old Canadian forward Levonte Johnson. Johnson has made 4 appearances for the Whitecaps first team, his biggest, scoring in this season’s Canadian Championship. Johnson also has 7 goals and 2 assists for the Whitecaps 2 team in MLS Next Pro.

With a majority of the Whitecaps attacking output coming from Julian Gressel and Ryan Guald this season, Vanni Sartini’s side could use an attacking player who can finish their chances created. Johnson doesn’t immediately slot into this first team, however, I could see him being a staple of the club (and even the Canadian Men’s National Team) over the next few years.

FC Cincinnati Signs Former MLS SuperDraft Selection From MLS Next Pro Side:

Cincinnati has signed 23-year-old wing-back Bret Halsey from their MLS Next Pro side FC Cincinnati 2. Halsey has made 13 appearances for Cincinnati’s second team, plugging in at both the left wing-back and right wing-back positions. In recent weeks, Halsey has also made his first two MLS appearances with minutes against Toronto FC and D.C. United. Halsey was drafted by Real Salt Lake in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft, but only made appearances for the Real Monarchs during his time within the organization.

Halsey’s versatility should come in handy for FC Cincinnati for the rest of 2023. FC Cincinnati plays in a 3-5-2 formation where Halsey could now be a beneficial depth piece behind Santiago Arias, Alvas Powell, and Raymond Gaddis.

Austin FC Loan Striker To Turkish 2nd Division:

Former U22 Initiative striker Moussa Djitté has been loaned by Austin FC to Turkish club Bandirmaspor. Djitté, 23 years old, will now play in the 1. Lig (Turkish 2nd Division) after his previous loan move to Ajaccio in the French Ligue 1. Djitté was the first player in Austin FC history to score a hat trick and now will look to find club form on another loan move.

Austin FC will remain with striker options on the first team of Gyasi Zardes, Maxi Urruti, and Will Bruin. Austin also has decent striker options within their Austin FC II side with Alfonso Ocampo-Chávez and Sebastien Pineau who look to be prepping for the future.

Colorado Rapids Loan World Cup Defender To Alajuelense In Costa Rica:

The Colorado Rapids have signed Costa Rican international center-back Daniel Chacón from their MLS Next Pro side Colorado Rapids 2. The Rapids then decided to loan Chacón to the Costa Rican giant Alajuelense for the remainder of the 2023 season. Chacón blew up onto the MLS scene after being the lone MLS Next Pro player to make a 2022 World Cup roster with the Costa Rican Men’s National Team. Chacón now has 10 caps for Costa Rica, playing his last game for his nation back in the World Cup against Japan.

Before signing for the Rapids 2, Chacón played for CS Cartaginés in the Costa Rican top division where he did win the Primera Division Verano title. Chacón now heads back to the Costa Rican top division where he can get minutes for one of the best clubs outside of MLS or Liga MX.