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Toronto’s Lorenzo Insigne deal is massive, but highlights MLS restrictions and inefficiencies – The Athletic

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There have been several high-profile outgoing transfers, multiple head coach hires and an announcement of a new owner, but no piece of MLS news so far in 2022 has come close to being as noteworthy as Toronto FC signing Lorenzo Insigne. While the move has the potential to be transformational for both Toronto and MLS, it also serves as yet another indicator of the drawbacks of the MLS model of roster building.

Let’s start with the good news. Insigne, who will arrive at TFC in July on a free transfer following the expiration of his contract with Napoli, is coming to the league near the height of his considerable powers. The 30-year-old Italian international helped lead his country to the European Championship title last summer, recorded 19 goals and seven assists in 35 Serie A matches last season and has four goals and five assists in 17 league appearances during the current campaign. As long as he’s fit and motivated, he should be an absolute force in MLS for the bulk of his mammoth four-year, $60 million guaranteed contract. TFC also expects that he’ll significantly boost enthusiasm for the club in the greater Toronto area, something that feels a bit necessary after the misery the club endured in a brutal 2021. Acquiring him is a huge swing by TFC and new head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley, a resounding statement that the club isn’t here just to win, but to win everything.

Signing Insigne is a feather in the cap for MLS, too. He won’t generate the same amount of mainstream media attention or sell as many tickets as previous designated players like David Beckham, Thierry Henry or Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his place in the Italy national team might be secure regardless of his club situation, but his decision to join TFC in a World Cup year is a signal to other international stars that the league is an acceptable place to spend at least part of their primes.





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Toronto FC’s GoalMachine takes home eMLS League Series One title

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It was a historic performance for the Toronto man, who just signed as the Reds’ eMLS representative in December and was making his debut appearance on the circuit. With the victory, he delivered Toronto FC’s first eMLS final appearance and championship in club history.

He got everything he could handle in the final from PauloNeto999, who had a 3-2 aggregate lead in the 88th minute of the second leg, only to see GoalMachine strike for a clutch late equalizer to force extra time.





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Lion Links: 1/16/22 – The Mane Land

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Hello, Mane Landers! This week kept The Mane Land staff team busy with breaking news, which must indicate the opening of Orlando City’s preseason camp is right around the corner. Tuesday, to be exact. Let’s head to the links!

Pato Returns to Orlando City

Orlando City announced Saturday morning the re-signing of center forward Alexandre Pato to a one-year deal. The Lions’ front office does not include financial terms when it announces transactions. However, multiple outlets reported the deal mostly consists of performance incentives. Pato was injured in the first game of last season and ultimately appeared in only four regular season matches and the Lions’ lone playoff game in Nashville. The accomplished Brazilian striker, if he can stay healthy, and Tesho Akindele are expected to provide goal-scoring depth behind whomever is acquired to succeed Daryl Dike up top. We’re going to sign more guys, right?

Moments after the club announced the return of Pato, which means “duck” in Portuguese, the Lions’ assistant general manager and technical director Ricardo Moreira tweeted perhaps the catchiest celebration of the news. LDG!

Pato shared an announcement video in which he promised “2022 will be better than the last one.”

Lions Announce 2022 Preseason Schedule

The Lions will face five MLS sides and Florida’s two USL Championship clubs in preseason action. All seven matches will be played behind closed doors. The preseason opener is Jan. 23 against an MLS club not yet named. Orlando City will also play Minnesota United, FC Dallas, and the Colorado Rapids. The Lions will battle the USL’s Miami FC, which is now led by former Orlando City B head coach Anthony Pulis. The Welshman played for Orlando City from 2012-2014 when it competed in USL Pro. The Lions and the Tampa Bay Rowdies square off on Feb. 19 to close out the schedule. Even though it’s a preseason match and the two teams compete in different tiers, is it still considered an I-4 derby? I think so.

Weston McKinnie Is On Fire

Juventus and U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Weston McKennie is the hottest American player in the world right now. McKennie headed in Juve’s second goal in its 2-0 triumph over Udinese yesterday, and he has now netted eight goals in 50 Serie A competitions. Yesterday’s goal followed one he scored in Juve’s Italian Supercoppa loss to Inter Milan on Wednesday. The American continues to improve on the pitch and that bodes well for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it prepares to resume Concacaf World Cup qualifiying later this month.

Reports: Che & Bassett to Europe; Arriola to Mexico City

MLSSoccer.com’s Transfer Tracker shared reports that two young MLS players will soon be loaned to European clubs for 18 months with options to buy. FC Dallas will reportedly send Homegrown defender Justin Che to the Bundesliga’s Hoffenheim and the Colorado Rapids will ship USMNT midfielder Cole Bassett to Eredivisie club Feyenoord. Club America is also expected to bring D.C. United and USMNT winger Paul Arriola back to Liga MX.

Man City Downs Chelsea, Coutinho Scores in Aston Villa Debut

A dazzling strike from Kevin De Bruyne lifted Manchester City over Chelsea yesterday to extend the Cityzens’ Premier League lead to 13 points. A close three-team battle for the Premier League crown is looking less likely.

Philippe Coutinho introduced himself to the Villa Park faithful with a game-tying goal after coming on as a substitute in Aston Villa’s come-from-behind 2-2 draw with Manchester United.

Free Kicks

Thanks for visiting, Mane Landers. Enjoy this week’s scenes from preseason camp.



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Inter Miami CF sign Jamaica international defender Damion Lowe

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TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Signing

The 28-year-old joins Inter Miami through the 2023 MLS season with a club option for 2024.

“Damion is a capable center back who has proven himself at the international level for Jamaica and we’re happy to welcome him at Inter Miami,” chief soccer officer and sporting director Chris Henderson said in a release. “I’ve known Damion for a long time and I’m sure he’ll welcome this challenge to break into MLS while helping us achieve our objectives. We’re looking forward to continuing to solidify our backline with this signing.”





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