Afternoon kickaround

Thoughts: Tata takes Miami, Weah & Pepi on the move, Musah & Vazquez rumors, & more

ASN's Brian Sciaretta offers up his thoughts on Tata Martino coming to Miami - a deal the club had to make. Pepi and Weah on the move. Interest in Vazquez and Musah while Matt Turner goes yard
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 29, 2023
4:50 PM

WHILE THE GOLD CUP is moving on, there are still plenty of other stories in and around the American soccer world to analyze, breakdown, and talk about. It starts with the silly season and then it goes through real, actual news.

But let’s start in Florida.


Tata takes Miami


Leave it to MLS for the worst team in the league to be getting all the headlines. And this isn’t even the big announcement about Lionel Messi – whenever that happens. It’s not even the supporting cast that might follow Messi including Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, or Luis Suarez.

This is about the head coach. And Inter Miami finally has a head coach, and it will be Tata Martino. Martino will replace interim manager Javi Morales who filled in once the club fired Phil Neville. It remains to be seen inf Morales will remain but given that he is Argentine with a Newell’s Old Boys background.

Assuming Messi happens soon, this will be the third time Martino and Messi have worked together – when Martino was the head coach of Barcelona and the Argentine national team. Now, neither time Martino worked with Messi was particularly successful, it could be different this time. For one, Martino has already enjoyed a lot of success in MLS and his Atlanta United team in 2018 was arguably the best and most iconic team in the history of the league. And Martino will have the full support of the Inter Miami front office and fans.

This should give Messi at least a little bit of familiarity in the league to let him hit the ground running. It’s one less thing he must learn, adjust, etc.

This was the hire Inter Miami had to make. How often does a club have the opportunity to hire a manager who has managed huge clubs, has had a ton of success in its league, and who has worked with the biggest player in the game who is also joining your team? Who has also worked successfully with your No. 9 before? 

What’s even better, is that Martino wanted to join Miami. He spoke at length in the press conference about loving the league and wanting to return. He checked an extraordinary number of very unique boxes.

Miami hit a home run and it was the hire they had to make.


Weah nears Juventus


Tim Weah, 23, is joining Juventus on a $11 million deal. It’s an impressive move for Weah and further suggests that he is joining the Italian giants to play as a wingback position which would be a continuation of the positional switch that he went through will Lille over the past season.

For Weah, he certainly can succeed at Juventus and they are bringing him into the team to play. He’s not a speculative signing. The club is moving on from Juan Cuadrado and Angel Di Maria and they need an a presence on the right side of the field.

For Weah, it’s a great opportunity but the situation will demand him to improve from Lille. First, he will need more goal contributions. Second, he will need to stay fit and prove to be dependable. He is now 23 and is yet to hit a 2000-minute season.  

But this could be a nice fresh start for Weah. We will see.


Pepi to PSV


If there was one transfer regarding an American player that should inspire confidence, it is Ricardo Pepi moving from Augsburg to PSV Eindhoven. This will allow him to remain in the Eredivisie where he scored 12 goals last season on a Groningen team that was relegated amid a dysfunctional environment. Now he remains with the same league, going against the same opponents. This time, however, he will have better teammates and better service. There is no reason to believe his production in the Eredivisie won’t improve. The question, however, is how he will do in the big European games?

But Pepi is in a great spot and last season put his career on track after a tough move from Dallas to Augsburg.


Musah rumors


There are now rumors of Yunus Musah being moved to AC Milan. This is just the latest big club to be linked with him in the rumor mill. Is it true? Perhaps. But Musah is coming off a rough season at Valencia (no goals and two assists) and any move for him is a bit of a gamble. And a $25 million price tag is a big gamble.

Musah, 20, looks the part. He is smooth on the ball. He is fast and strong. He has experience in a huge league. But scouts must be convinced he will explode in productivity once he leaves Valencia because he didn’t show much progress from the season before.



The Vazquez situation

FC Cincinnati doesn’t want to sell Brandon Vazquez right now. The team has been the best in MLS this season and has already sold one of its key attacking players, Brenner, to Europe this season. While Vazquez is not putting up the numbers he did last season, he is still playing well despite only having four goals.

Earlier this season in March, Borussia Monchengladbach’s sporting director flew to the United States to watch Vazquez against Nashville. Vazquez scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 Cincinnati win. Now it is being reported (and ASN has heard the same thing) that Cincinnati doesn’t want to let Vazquez go midseason.

Cincinnati was awful when they expanded into MLS. They won the “Wooden Spoon” award for their first three seasons. Then in their fourth, they made the playoffs and Vazquez’s 19 goals got them there. Now they are in the driver’s seat for the Supporters Shield. It’s understandable they don’t want to sell, despite interest from Monchengladbach (and we don’t have a report yet what their offer actually is).

We will find out soon if there is any more interest and if any suitors would be willing to lend him back to Cincinnati for the remainder of the season – as has been common in recent midseason moves.

If Vazquez continues to play well for Cincinnati and is in the mix for the USMNT (while having a strong Gold Cup), he won’t be in Cincinnati much longer. But Cincy is dedicated to make a real push for MLS Cup this year and that requires Vazquez sticking around another six months.


Turner goes yard


Before he switched his sport to soccer in high school, Matt Turner was a baseball player at St. Joseph’s in New Jersey. He is a fantastic athlete and that has allowed him to switch sports in his teen years to be a national team player signed to Arsenal.

But how about being able to go back to his original sport for a day? Well, Turner went to take batting practice with the St. Louis Cardinals while the national team was the city for the Gold Cup. Turner ended up hitting four straight home runs. That is unbelievable athleticism.


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