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Anthony Fontana joins Ascoli Calcio in Italy’s Serie B from Philadelphia Union

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Union academy-bred midfielder Anthony Fontana’s move to Italian second-division team Ascoli finally crossed the line on Friday, starting a new career chapter for the 22-year-old from Newark, Del.

Fontana left the Union at the end of the 2021 season to seek his fortune elsewhere, after growing up in his hometown club’s academy and playing four seasons in MLS. He debuted in 2018 as a big-time playmaker prospect, the first marquee Union academy product at soccer’s most glamorous position. And it was never a secret that he dreamed of playing in Italy, as a longtime fan of Italian superpower Juventus and holder of an Italian passport.

The hype justifiably grew when Fontana started and scored in his first MLS game, on the opening day of the 2018 season. But on the whole, Fontana never quite fulfilled his potential.

There were a few of his own shortcomings, but just as importantly due to competition within the team. There were always big names taking big minutes, from Bořek Dočkal to Marco Fabián to Jamiro Monteiro to Dániel Gazdag. And there were other big-time academy products too, Brenden Aaronson from 2019-20 and Paxten Aaronson last year.

It also didn’t help that Fontana missed nearly two months last summer because of a concussion.

» READ MORE: Mikael Uhre’s arrival at Union preseason camp is still delayed by visa issues

In the end, Fontana played 51 games for the Union’s first team, recording 12 goals and 1 assist. The Union twice offered him a new contract last year, but he declined. He went to Italy last month, got a tryout with Ascoli, and after weeks of reports that the team would sign him, it finally happened.

A source with knowledge of the situation said that the Union will get some money from Ascoli even though Fontana was technically out of contract. Because the Union made those offers last year, the team is eligible to be paid under FIFA’s training compensation system for teams that develop future pros.

The source said the Union could receive up to 120,000 Euros — around $136,000 — in performance incentives, such as games played by Fontana and if the club gets promoted to Serie A. (The odds of that happening this season aren’t great.)

There’s also a deal for a sell-on fee that ranges from 15-25%, if Ascoli ever deals him elsewhere. And if Fontana moves to a team in another country, the Union would be eligible for further compensation through FIFA’s solidarity payment system.

When a player age 23 or older is sold between clubs in different countries, FIFA mandates that 5% of the transfer fee is divided proportionally among all the clubs where the player played from ages 12 through 22.

If a player changes clubs before that age, the solidarity percentage is reduced on a sliding scale according to a system that FIFA has formalized.

» READ MORE: The World Cup wants a sustainable stadium. Are the Eagles green enough?

This is a big deal for the Union, because it means that they will get a piece of any future moves between countries that players like Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie make.

But it’s important to again note the use of between countries. If Aaronson’s next move is to an English club — such as Leeds United, which bid $27 million for him this winter — the Union would be eligible to get a solidarity payment out of that. (They’d also get the sell-on fee they agreed with Salzburg of up to 20% of the transfer cost.)

Now say some time after that Leeds sells Aaronson to another club. If that next club is in another country, the Union would be eligible for a solidarity payment. But he moves from one English club to another, the Union would not be eligible.

FIFA lays all of this out in a legal document on its website called “Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.” Naturally, that document is 87 pages and full of jargon, but you can read it if you’d like to.

The Union will also benefit from future eligible moves made by Auston Trusty, the Media native who grew up in the Union’s academy and joined England’s Arsenal this winter from the Colorado Rapids. And as more academy products move abroad, more solidarity payments can come the Union’s way.

» READ MORE: Media’s Auston Trusty joins Arsenal from the Colorado Rapids, and the Union are likely to profit



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Gaga Slonina opts for USMNT over Poland: “My heart is American”

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Shortly after Slonina made his announcement, the USMNT officially released their 27-player roster for the June window of Nations League games and friendlies.

Slonina wasn’t among the three goalkeepers called in, though Berhalter made clear that he’s a big part of the program’s future. The goalkeeper’s going through a dip in form as Chicago’s 2022 season unfolds.

“We have guys at really high levels and experienced guys that played for us before, and [I told him] your form hasn’t been good enough,” Berhalter relayed. “I can understand if you’re going to go take a look at Poland because you’re disappointed with this. And his response was great. It was he understands where he’s at, he’s going to work to get out of where he’s at. But he said he’s still committed to us and that’s all you can hear.”

Slonina wrote that he “loves everything about my heritage,” but the dual-national landscape is seldom a simple one. His parents are from Poland.

“You make relationships with players, you welcome players to the group – guys make them feel welcome,” Berhalter said. “You hope that’s enough and at the end of the day they decide. But in Gaga’s case also, his heart was telling him where to go. That’s a really important part of the equation.”





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Gameday Guide: Your complete timeline for the Rapids’ Sunday doubleheader 

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2:00-5:00 P.M. Happy Hour at Hamburger Mary’s

Start your gameday off right at Hamburger Mary’s for drink specials and giveaways! Individuals have the option to bus from Hamburger Mary’s to DICK’S Sporting Goods Park at 4:00. The bus will return individuals to Hamburger Mary’s after the match. Purchase bus tickets here.

5:00 P.M. C38 Pride Tailgate

Join C38 for their Pride tailgate before making your way into the stadium! All are welcome to enjoy the pregame festivities and get hype to watch the Burgundy Boys with Colorado’s best supporters’ section.

Countdown to kickoff starts now! Welcome the Rapids to the pitch with hype videos, lineups and special Pride features.

6:00 PM Colorado Rapids vs Seattle Sounder FC Kickoff

Come on you Burgundy Boys!

9:10 PM Rapids 2 vs Tacoma Defiance Kickoff

Don’t head out just yet! Colorado’s MLS NEXT Pro side Rapids 2 will make their DICK’S Sporting Goods Park debut directly at the conclusion of the Rapids’ matchup with Seattle.





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2022 MLS season: Fire standing behind struggling goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina

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Gabriel Slonina has made his decision. He’s going with the United States men’s national team.

Slonina, 18, announced Friday on social media he is committing to the US over Poland. A dual national, Slonina was recently named to Poland’s roster for its upcoming UEFA Nations League matches but has chosen to cast his lot with the United States program. Poland clearly wanted Slonina badly, as shown by coach Czesław Michniewicz traveling to Chicago to meet with him and present him a jersey.

Those overtures were rejected, and Slonina explained why. Though he discussed his pride in his heritage and what it means to be Polish, Slonina said “my heart is American.”

“This country has given me and my family all the opportunities I could ask for,” Slonina posted. “It’s pushed me and supported me through good and bad. I understand the privilege of wearing the badge, and the only time I’ll put my head down is to kiss it. America is home and that’s who I’m going to represent.”

Because of his age, FIFA rules allow Slonina to play in three matches for a national team before being bound to a country, so it’s possible he could change his mind in the future.

Slonina is part of a crowded US goalkeeping picture that includes Manchester City’s Zack Steffen, the Revolution’s Matt Turner (who will join English club Arsenal this summer) and former Fire standout Sean Johnson, currently the captain of reigning MLS Cup champion New York City FC. Poland is also strong in net, led by Wojciech Szczęsny, the starter for Italian powerhouse Juventus.

But just because Slonina, who’s represented the US at youth levels, has made this decsion doesn’t mean all his major choices are complete. Slonina’s been linked with major European clubs, and with their transfer windows opening soon, the young goalie might be forced to decide between famous teams in the near future.

Slonina’s recent play for the Fire has raised questions about whether those outside factors have taken a toll. Last Saturday, Slonina’s late giveaway led to the Fire’s 2-1 loss to FC Cincinnati. Then on Wednesday against the Red Bulls, Slonina whiffed on an easy save for New York’s second goal, overcommitted on their stoppage-time equalizer and could’ve easily given away a penalty after contacting an opposing attacker in the Fire box.

After the Red Bulls match, coach Ezra Hendrickson was asked whether the external noise was affecting Slonina’s concentration.

“Maybe outside of the game but in the game I don’t think he’s thinking about all that stuff. He just happened to make some mistakes,” Hendrickson said. “You know, we all make mistakes as soccer players and it just happened to be that in that position of his, your mistakes are more dangerous, are more costly than someone missing a goal or something like that. But he’ll get out of it and we’ll make sure that he stays positive and stays confident.”

Perhaps that will be easier for Slonina with one major decision out of the way.





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