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OL Reign obtain rights to Alyssa Malonson from NC Courage

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OL Reign today announced that it has obtained the NWSL rights to defender Alyssa Malonson from the North Carolina Courage, who in exchange acquired midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri from OL Reign following a successful Discovery Challenge.

If Discovery Challenge is a new term for you, well, you are certainly not alone. It’s a mechanism in the league that is very rarely utilized. Here’s a basic overview of the rule: if one or more clubs attempt to add the same player to their Discovery Lists, the club that filed the claim on the earlier date — the Reign in this case — has the priority right to sign the player. If the second club wants to sign this player, they can issue a “Discovery Challenge” to the club with the higher priority. That forces the initial club to either extend an offer to the player, accept a $25,000 fee from the second club, or negotiate a different deal with the second club. Essentially, this process prevents teams from squatting on players’ rights.

In the case of this trade, sources shared with Ride of the Valkyries that Tagliaferri — who the Reign added to their Discovery List after the 2021 draft — was interested in staying on the East Coast near family, which made the deal possible for the Reign and North Carolina. The Courage had a player that had been on OL Reign’s radar, Malonson, so both sides worked out a deal to exchange rights using the Discovery Challenge process mechanism.

Malonson was originally drafted 20th overall by North Carolina in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but she opted to stay at Auburn University to play out her fifth year of NCAA eligibility in 2021, an option made available to players during the pandemic.

Primarily a defender in her first three seasons in an Auburn uniform, Malonson transitioned to the midfield in 2020 and tied for second on the team in points that fall. She again played in both spots on the field in her final season of eligibility in 2021, finishing the year as a defender, where she was named United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-American, SEC Defender of the Year, and First Team All-SEC. In her final season, Malonson scored twice and assisted four goals while also helping lead Auburn to seven total shutouts and five shutouts in SEC play.

Here’s a glimpse of what the speedy player, who was often streaking down the left flank, did with Auburn last fall.

In her career with the Tigers, Malonson played in 97 matches — an Auburn record — and started each match. Malonson scored four goals and tallied 23 assists for Auburn. Malonson also has U.S. Youth National Team experience and was most recently called up to join the U-23 WNT in 2019 for the U-23 La Manga Tournament, where she played alongside Reign player Alana Cook with the U.S. as they faced Sweden and France.



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VfL Wolfsburg swoops for D.C. United homegrown star Kevin Paredes

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D.C. United homegrown Kevin Paredes is making the big move, with VfL Wolfsburg swooping in to bring the Virginia native to the Bundesliga. Terms were not reported by either club, but The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer has reported the German side is putting up $7.35 million in their initial transfer fee, with United getting an additional $500,000 if Paredes meets certain benchmarks relating to appearance totals. The Black-and-Red would also be due 10% of any transfer fee Wolfsburg brings in by selling Paredes’ rights in the future.

“We couldn’t be prouder and happier for Kevin to follow his dreams to compete in a great league like the German Bundesliga,” said Dave Kasper, United’s President of Soccer Operations, in a team press release. “Kevin’s rapid rise from our Academy to a first team starter is a testament to his desire, talent, and commitment, as well as a lot of hard work and support from our great coaches and staff at the club. All of us at the club wish Kevin a very long and successful professional career.”

“We are extremely proud of Kevin and the work that he has done to earn his opportunity to play at the highest level in Europe,” said United GM Lucy Rushton. “As a Homegrown, this transfer reflects the commitment and investment our ownership have made in our Academy infrastructure to prepare Kevin to fulfill his lifelong dream. We want to thank him for representing the club with so much pride and wish him the best of luck in his next chapter in the top flight of European soccer.”

Paredes, 18, made his debut in professional soccer with Loudoun United late in the 2019 USL Championship season, and his rise since then has been remarkable. D.C. United offered him a homegrown contract that winter, and while the MLS season was disrupted by Covid-19, a series of injuries and struggles as a club opened the door for Paredes to show what he could do. After making his debut in the MLS is Back Tournament that summer, Paredes used the next couple of months to assert himself as not just a promising youngster, but a player who was going to be a factor every week.

In 2021, under Hernán Losada, Paredes was first-choice whenever healthy, thriving as the team’s left wingback and quickly becoming a fan favorite thanks to his dribbling ability and high-energy style of play. In the end, Paredes made 41 appearances (28 starts) in his two seasons with United.

United will be able to convert $1.05 million of the fee into General Allocation Money (GAM), which they have stockpiled of late. Paredes’ departure comes two days after United made an MLS-record GAM trade, sending Paul Arriola to FC Dallas in a deal possibly worth up to $2.3 million. However, the club has also moved plenty of GAM in the meantime, sending $750,000 to the Seattle Sounders to acquire Brad Smith — very likely the player who will step into Paredes’ shoes on the left — just yesterday.

It’s been a furious remodel for United lately, who have also announced that they’ve signed Designated Player Taxiarchis Fountas on a pre-contract from Rapid Vienna, and have been strongly linked to a loan move for Toluca and Ecuador striker Michael Estrada.

The news of Paredes moving to Wolfsburg serves on one hand as an example to promising young players that United is capable of bringing a talent along quickly. Paredes went from academy program, to Loudoun, to starting at Audi Field, to the Bundesliga in very little time. Despite a record of giving more minutes to homegrown players than the majority of MLS clubs, United has to some extent had a reputation in youth soccer circles that was not favorable.

The club’s Pathway to Pro program was enacted to help change that, and between teenagers like Paredes, Moses Nyeman, and Griffin Yow getting first-team minutes, and Ryan Martin fielding one of the younger teams in the USL Championship over the last two seasons, there is a clear emphasis on shifting that perception. Paredes moving to the Bundesliga at 18 years old will go a long way on that front.

On the other hand, United’s hopes on the field take a hit with the move. Paredes, along with Andy Najar and Julian Gressel, were the players in 2022 that had to be at their best for United to hit top gear. Losing Paredes’ dribbling ability on the left, even with an experienced and respected replacement already in place, will be an obstacle for Losada and co. on the field this season.





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Report: Toronto FC sign Carlos Salcedo from Tigres UANL as Yeferson Soteldo departs

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The move would give Toronto a backline anchor, with Salcedo’s résumé also including stints in Europe at Fiorentina (Italian Serie A) and Eintracht Frankfurt (German Bundesliga). He originally turned pro in 2013 with Real Salt Lake and has been capped 48 times by Mexico.

Last year, Soteldo had three goals and 10 assists in 24 games (19 starts) for Toronto. He’s been rumored to exit after the Reds finished second-from-bottom in the Eastern Conference last year.

It’s the latest development in Toronto’s DP situation, with striker Jozy Altidore also suspected to depart, possibly via a contract buyout. Alejandro Pozuelo, the 2020 Landon Donovan MLS MVP, projects as a key playmaker under Bradley.

Should the Salcedo/Soteldo swap be completed, Toronto would still need to shed another DP before Insigne arrives in the summer from Napoli. Club president Bill Manning, speaking after signing the Italian national team forward to a long-term deal, has assured that won’t be an issue.





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Philadelphia Union club-record deal for Mikael Uhre yet another sign of growth

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The fee clocks in at $2.8 million, a modest amount for a leading center forward. It is a fraction of what Aaronson (likely $9 million after incentives, plus more coming soon with a healthy sell-on clause) and McKenzie ($6 million) were moved for. It would not be a club record for many other teams across MLS, but it still represents another progression for a club continuing to reach new heights.

“First and foremost, it’s about the quality of the player,” Tanner said of the club-record fee. “We are continuously spending, that is not a problem. We are spending very well and very efficient, this is a pathway we will never get away from. This is the culture we’ve established and it’s proven successful. The question is about what we’re going to achieve in the future, the goals get higher and higher.”

Uhre, 27, is coming off a career year and his first cap for Denmark. The center forward won the Danish Superliga Golden Boot last season and was named the league’s Player of the Year. Even at a club-record fee, most view it as an incredibly fair price, if not an outright bargain, for a club that’s specialized in identifying undervalued talent.

“The pressure is not on him,” Curtin said. “We recruited him and wanted him for a reason. It’s our job, the coaching staff and players, to make it easy for him. He just needs to be himself and over time, things will take care of themselves.”





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