Your Saturday Kickoff: Who’s the hottest team heading into Leagues Cup Round of 16?
LAFC acquire Uruguayan forward Olivera
LAFC made another splash just before the Secondary Transfer Window closed Wednesday evening, announcing Friday morning they have acquired forward Cristian Olivera from LaLiga side Almería. The 21-year-old Uruguay youth international arrives from the Spanish first-division club as a U22 Initiative signing. He is under contract through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027.
NYCFC sign Costa Rican forward Martínez
New York City FC have signed forward Alonso Martínez from Belgian second-division side Lommel SK. The 24-year-old Costa Rican international joins from the City Football Group sister club through the 2025 MLS season with options for 2026-27.
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We’re through the Round of 32 and the games are going to come a little more sparingly going forward. Still, there’s plenty to get to from last night. Let’s talk it out.
What happened?: Chicago were up for the fight in this one, but América leaned on them a little too long and the Fire eventually toppled. América found the net with an own goal just a few moments after Chicago missed a shot on an open net and a huge chance to take the lead.
So, did we learn anything?: This was always an uphill battle for Chicago, but they were a missed sitter away from really making this interesting. There are worse ways to go out. América were definitely the better team, but they continue to look vulnerable so far in this tournament.
What happened?: Cincy finally lost at home! Technically! I mean, it’s really a draw and some bad luck but still… feels kind of momentous this year. Nashville will take on América Tuesday.
So, did we learn anything?: It’s an excellent win for Nashville. They’ve always had the potential to make it through the knockout rounds by doing exactly this. Playing solid defense and catching a break or two can take you a long way in a tournament. With América looking beatable, the Coyotes should be feeling good about their chances to keep making a run.
What happened?: Bongokuhle Hlongwane (we’ve been telling y’all!) put the Loons up twice, but the Crew got back in it and then took a late lead. Hasani Dotson found an equalizer just before stoppage time, though, and the Loons made it through on penalties. They’ll face a nuclear-hot Toluca side on Tuesday.
So, did we learn anything?: What a game. Hlongwane continues to be one of the best wingers in MLS, the Crew continue to play beautiful soccer and, like we said yesterday, Minnesota are scary when Bebelo Reynoso gets hot. He had three assists in this one and that’s bad news for the rest of the bracket. It’s hard not to get 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoff vibes from Minnesota when Reynoso is playing like that. He might need to be even better to get the Loons past Toluca, though.
What happened?: León were in control in the first half, but RSL exploded for three goals in 12 minutes to pull off one of the knockout round’s most notable results. Danny Musovski’s brace led the way. RSL have LAFC waiting for them on Tuesday.
So, did we learn anything?: The RSL we were hoping would show up against Monterrey showed up in the second half. They took full advantage of a León side that just ran out of gas and knocked out the reigning CCL champs. LAFC should be nervous. Not just because of Tuesday’s game, but because it seems like there’s a genuine challenger in the West once we’re back to normal MLS hours.
What happened?: Toluca poured four on an MLS side. Again. They’ll face Minnesota in the Round of 16.
So, did we learn anything?: Toluca are the hottest team in the competition right now. That’s now 12 goals in three games and a +7 goal differential. They’re pummeling folks. It’s going to take a heckuva performance from Minnesota to slow them down.
What happened?: Portland did exactly what you’d expect and made this way too close for comfort for Monterrey. Rayados were able to hold on for dear life and made it to the end, though. It’s Tigres and Monterrey on Tuesday in the Round of 16.
So, did we learn anything?: This was as vulnerable as Monterrey have looked all tournament. Tigres looked pretty vulnerable last night too, though. Something will have to give between the two of them. Either way, everyone else in the bracket will be glad to see one of them go.
What happened?: The ‘Caps took Tigres to the wire, but fell short in penalties.
So, did we learn anything?: The Whitecaps really can take on anyone on their day. They came close to pulling off the upset and that’s all you could really ask for.
FC Dallas sign Canadian midfielder Fraser: FC Dallas have acquired Canadian international midfielder Liam Fraser from Belgian second-division side KMSK Deinze. He is under contract through the 2023 MLS season with options for 2024-25. Fraser, 25, is FCD’s second central-midfield addition of the summer after the club previously acquired former Real Madrid player Asier Illarramendi. These moves coincide with the club trading homegrown midfielder Edwin Cerrillo to the LA Galaxy.
Toronto FC sign German forward Owusu: Toronto FC have signed free agent forward Prince Owusu. The former German youth international, 26, is under contract through the 2024 MLS season with an option for 2025. Per MLS roster rules, clubs can sign out-of-contract players until the Roster Freeze Date on Sept. 15 (the Secondary Transfer Window closed on Aug. 2).
Atlanta United, López mutually terminate contract: Atlanta United and forward Erik López have reached a mutual contract termination. The 21-year-old Paraguay native spent parts of four seasons (2020-23) with Atlanta, never firmly breaking into the first team. He departs with one goal scored in 19 games (10 starts).
Inter Miami buy out goalkeeper Marsman: Inter Miami CF have exercised a contract buyout on goalkeeper Nick Marsman. The 32-year-old Dutchman initially joined Miami in July 2021 from top-tier Eredivisie side Feyenoord. He posted six clean sheets in 29 appearances, which all occurred across the 2021 and 2022 MLS regular seasons.
Good luck out there. Always have something up your sleeve.
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