LAFC signing Ilie Sanchez & Real Salt Lake strengthen midfield

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The MLS season 2022 is fast approaching and the transfer market is starting to get busy.

Ricardo Pepis and Daryl Dike’s departures and Toronto FC’s remarkable catch of Lorenzo Insigne have stolen the headlines, but they represent the tip of the iceberg as lists are reshaped and head coaches look for the all-important MLS experience.

Here are the offers you may have missed from Wednesday …

Welcome to Barrio Angelino, Ilie. ?? LAFC pic.twitter.com/CYPUTAxYTV

– LAFC (@LAFC) January 12, 2022

Eduard Atuesta was destined to leave LAFC this winter, but few expected him to go to Brazil. Either way, he left a big hole in the Black and Gold midfield that needed to be filled.

Ilie Sanchez should go to great lengths to do so, and comes on a two-year contract via free agency after his five-year period with Sporting Kansas City ended.

The Spaniard – a product of Barcelona’s youth system – is a handsome ball player and stable defensive presence. In a league where experience is more than just a troop, Sanchez offers plenty, with 144 MLS matches under his belt so far.

“Ilie is a player I have long admired not only for his ability on the pitch but also for his character and professionalism, making him a perfect fit for us,” LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington said in a press release. “We trust that these qualities will help LAFC in our commitment to winning on and off the field for many years to come.”

Bring more talent to midfield.

Welcome to SLC, @ scaldwell15!

– Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) January 12, 2022

Speaking of MLS experience, the often underrated Scott Caldwell has played 229 times in this league just during the regular season. He was not the most famous of the New England Revolutions 2021 Supporters’ Shield winners, but ask any of his coaches or teammates and they will tell you how important he was.

After leaving Revs, Caldwell is now with Real Salt Lake and signing a two-year contract in Utah.

“We have long admired Scott for his quality on the pitch and professional approach to the game,” RSL general manager Elliot Fall said in a press release. “When he became a free agent this year, he was a natural target for our club. He adds another excellent alternative to our midfield, as well as long-term experience in a proven, winning environment.”

It may not have been easy to leave the Revs behind given that the midfielder was the club’s second home-grown player ever. But Caldwell is “fired” for a new challenge.

“I’m excited to start this new chapter in my career with RSL this season,” he said. “I can not wait to start training with my teammates and work with Pablo, Matt and the entire coaching staff. I am ready to win matches for this city and for our fans.”

Say Cheese ?

– Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) January 11, 2022

Caldwell was one of two midfielders they brought in on Wednesday, and also signed Julio Benitez to a home-built contract until 2025.

The 16-year-old has gone well through RSL’s youth system and although it may be a little early for him to jump directly into MLS action, he is one to look to for the future. His two international appearances for the United States at U-15 level are proof enough of that.

“Julio has proven to be an exceptional talent in our club since the day he came to the academy,” Fall said of Benitez. “He embodies what we strive to develop in our club – athletes who excel on the field and, more importantly, off it. I have no doubt that Julio will have a positive impact on the field and in our society for many years to come. ”

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