Columbus, Ohio – As if the Columbus Crew SC couldn’t get any stronger, the reigning MLS Cup champions found a way to bolster their attack. Kevin Molino, 30, has joined the Crew. Terms of his contract, including its length, were not disclosed. Molino signed with the Crew as a free agent.
Molino joins the Crew after spending the last four seasons with Minnesota United FC. He’s been in MLS since 2015, spending two years with Orlando City SC. In addition, Molino picked up four more goals in the MLS postseason, where he started all three of his appearances. Minnesota fell in the Western Conference Championship to the Seattle Sounders.
Last year, Molino bagged nine goals in 18 appearances, while also notching four assists. Throughout his MLS career, he has over 100 appearances and 32 goals to his name.
“Throughout his time in this league, Kevin Molino has been one of the most talented and explosive wingers in Major League Soccer, and he proved that not only throughout the 2020 regular season, but most recently when it mattered most, in the playoffs, on a team that was minutes away from an MLS Cup final,” Crew president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said.
“Kevin will bring individual game-changing ability, with his smart and technical play, which will aid in our team chemistry with our other top quality attackers. Kevin has also consistently produced goals and assists – a critical asset from the wide position.”
Bezbatchenko went on to say that Molino was a player in “high demand” this offseason.
“We look forward to the impact he will have, which we feel will be immense, as we compete for trophies in multiple competitions in 2021 and beyond.”
Inter Miami and Diego Alonso part ways, mutually
After an initial report from The Athletic stated that Diego Alonso had been fired from Inter Miami CF last month, the club announced that the report was false.
However, today, Inter Miami announced that the club mutually parted ways with Alonso.
Alonso led Inter Miami on a rollercoaster season last year. The club made the playoffs – barely. Inter Miami slid into the 10th place spot and went on to face fellow expansion club Nashville SC. Miami couldn’t handle the Tennessee club, falling in the first round.
Inter Miami finished the regular season with a 7-13-3 record, with a PPG of 1.04.
So, Diego Alonso done at Inter Miami. I chatted to him a few times, including my big piece for SI last February. He is a good man, ultimately limited by overwhelming factors.
I will say, if Phil Neville takes this job, I see zero – ZERO – reason for their fans to get excited.
— Luis Miguel Echegaray (@lmechegaray) January 7, 2021
“On behalf of the organization, I want to thank Diego for his hard work and dedication during our inaugural season and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Inter Miami CF Managing Owner Jorge Mas said, via a team release. “This was a difficult year and a very tough decision for everyone, but we believe it is the right step for the club. We have great expectations for Inter Miami in the short and long term.”
Meanwhile, Alonso said that being part of the first season was an “incredible” experience.
“I want to thank the staff for their work and friendship, the players for their efforts on the field, and especially the fans for their constant support throughout the year. I wish everyone the best this upcoming season,” Alonso said.
Rumors are swirling that current English women’s national team manager Phil Neville could take over in Miami. Neville was former teammates with Inter Miami owner David Beckham at Manchester United. Currently, Neville is preparing to lead the Lionesses of England at the Summer Olympics this year.
Neville’s coaching career began in 2015 with Salford City.
Mark McKenzie signs with Genk in Beligum
Another young American is heading overseas.
Mark McKenzie has transferred to K.R.C Genk in Belgium. His exit comes immediately after former Philadelphia Union teammate Brenden Aaronson transferred to Red Bull Salzburg. According to MLS, both deals are multi-million dollar transfers.
Both players were Union Homegrown athletes. In 2020, the Union came from behind Toronto FC to win the Supporters Shield. However, the Union crashed out of the MLS Cup Playoffs against the New England Revolution.
McKenzie has been with the Union since 2018 at the senior level. He registered 46 starts in 48 appearances, netting two goals and providing three assists. All of his assists came in 2020. In the postseason, he started three of three appearances in 2019 and 2020.
“Before working towards my goal of playing in Europe, I remember sitting in the stands watching my home team, the Union, and hoped that one day I’d get the chance to play for my city in front of my family, friends, and fans. I am so thankful to have been given the chance to do so,” McKenzie said in a statement.
“I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am and have this opportunity to further my career without my coaches, my family, and the Philadelphia Union fans. And I am so appreciative to everyone who has dedicated their time, knowledge, love and put their faith in me… The city and the Union will always be a part of me, and the future looks nothing but bright for myself and this club.”
— PhilaUnion🛡 (@PhilaUnion) January 7, 2021
Roger Espinoza re-signs with SKC; Luis Robles retires
Lo’eau LaBonta can breathe a sigh of relief; her fiancé isn’t going anywhere.
Roger Espinoza — who is engaged to the NWSL Kansas City player — has re-signed with Sporting Kansas City. Ever since coming to MLS in 2008, Espinoza has starred for Sporting Kansas City. The Honduran international has over 250 appearances with the club.
Still a regular starter, Espinoza started 12 out of 16 matches in 2020. He scored twice and had two assists, as well. Also, Espinoza scored once in the playoffs last season, starting both of Sporting Kansas City’s matches.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to return to Sporting and compete for an MLS Cup,” Espinoza said, via a club release. “Kansas City is a special place where I have spent most of my career and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’m proud to continue representing this club and playing for our fans.”
According to the club, Espinoza is currently third on the all-time appearances list. Matt Besler — who recently signed with Austin FC — holds the most appearances with 284, while Graham Zusi is right behind with 279 appearances. Last year, Espinoza passed Davy Arnaud and is the third all-time leader in appearances with 254.
Hangin' up the gloves. 🧤
Enjoy retirement, Luis Robles! 👏 pic.twitter.com/duQcCU77iJ
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) January 7, 2021
Luis Robles retires from professional soccer
While one legend stays in Kansas City, another leaves the beautiful game altogether.
Luis Robles, the longtime goalkeeper for the New York Red Bulls, has announced his retirement. Robles, 36, came to Major League Soccer in 2012, joining the Red Bulls. He began his professional career with the Boulder Rapids Reserve before heading to Germany to feature for FC Kaiserslautern. He then joined Karlsruher SC before making his way to the U.S.
Robles also has three appearances with the U.S. men’s national team.
After a long tenure with the Red Bulls, he joined Inter Miami last season, making 15 appearances. Robles announced his retirement via social media.
He leaves MLS with 253 appearances, as well as 23 appearances in the postseason.