MLS Roundup: João Paulo to Seattle, Wil Trapp heads to Miami

João Paulo MLS

Seattle, Washington — The MLS defending champions have a new No. 6. After the departure of Ozzie Alonso, no player wore the number last season. Now, the Sounders have someone to fill the role — and the number. On Friday, the club announced the loan agreement that sent João Paulo to Seattle.

A native of Serafina Corrêa, Brazil, Paulo comes to Seattle after three seasons with Botafogo in Brazil. However, his deal is not permanent, as the club has loaned him to the Sounders for one season. There is an option to buy, though, should Paulo perform well and Botafogo is willing to let him leave for MLS permanently.

Garth Lagerwey, Sounders general manager, called Paulo versatile and talented. His experience, said Lagerwey, will be beneficial to the club.

“His signing adds a strong piece to an already talented roster, and we’re excited about the way our team is taking shape as the season approaches,” Lagerwey said.

Meanwhile, Brian Schmetzer, Sounders head coach, acknowledged the Brazilian’s track record of winning. Paulo won regional tropies like the Campeonato Carioca and back-to-back titles in the Campeonato Pernambucano.

“Chris Henderson and the scouting department have done a great job of identifying talented players for our club,” Schmetzer said. “He gives us options in the midfield, as well as some more vertical passing options in the initial build up, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he fits in with the rest of the squad.”

In Brazil, Paulo spent eight seasons in the Brasileiro Série A. he has over 288 career appearances in the league and state competition play. He also recorded 17 appearances in the Copa Libertadores. He and Botafogo made it to the Quarterfinals in 2017, before falling to fellow Brazilian club Grêmio.

Wil Trapp leaving Columbus for Miami

As first reported by The Athletic, Wil Trapp is heading to a new club. After spending his entire career, thus far, with the Columbus Crew SC, Trapp is heading to new expansion side Inter Miami.

According to The Athletic, Miami is sending $100,000 and an international spot to the Crew. Meanwhile, the deal could also include more money, including an extra $200,000 to Columbus. “Miami will now absorb Trapp’s cap hit of around $600,000 in 2020,” Paul Tenorio wrote.

A native of Columbus, Trapp joined the club as a Homegrown player. In the last seven seasons, Trapp has made 179 starts in 185 appearances, scoring two goals and providing 19 assists. Trapp has also started all of his 15 MLS Cup Playoff appearances.

He has 20 appearances with the U.S. men’s national team. Trapp was named to the MLS All-Star Game in 2016.

“Wil is one of the most respected leaders in American soccer,” Paul McDonough, Inter Miami sporting director, said. “He has served as captain at both the club and international levels and fits the culture we are building here in South Florida. Wil is also a top-class midfielder with established success in MLS.”

Meanwhile, Crew SC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko thanked Trapp for his contributions on and off the pitch in Columbus. He called the decision to trade Trapp “difficult.”

“… But headed into the final year of Wil’s contract, we were presented with an opportunity that we felt would mutually benefit both the club and the player,” Bezbatchenko said. “Wil represented his hometown club and country proudly during his time with Crew SC and continues to serve as a model for a path to the professional level through the Academy system. As he enters the next chapter of his career, we truly wish him the best and appreciate what he has meant to Columbus.”

Sounders loan out Emanuel Cecchini

In addition to adding Paulo, the Sounders also made the decision to send midfielder Emanuel Cecchini on loan. Cecchini is joining Unión de Sante Fe in Argentina for the entirety of 2020.

Cecchini did not have the splash impact the Sounders were hoping for in 2019. Instead, he only appeared in four matches, starting one, since the summer. Cecchini totaled 155 minutes in a Sounders uniform and did not record any goals or assists.

“We’d like to thank Emanuel for his time with the club last season in helping us win the MLS Cup title,” Lagerwey said. “We wish him the best going forward as he returns home to play in Argentina.”

Right now, the Sounders roster sits at 21 players for the upcoming season. The team had to rebuild a bit after the MLS Cup Final, where they defeated Toronto FC for their second MLS title. The rebuild especially took place on defense, with the departures of Kim Kee-hee, Brad Smith and Román Torres. Kelvin Leerdam is the only starting defender from the final that is returning. Also returning is Xavier Arreaga, who hit the bench when Torres returned from suspension.

Cecchini isn’t the only midfielder to depart Seattle. MLS Cup MVP Víctor Rodríguez left the club and returned home to Spain with his family. He officially announced his signing with Elche FC, a Spanish second-division club.