MLS

2020 Donovan MLS MVP Winner Alejandro Pozuelo to Inter Miami

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Thursday morning, the summer transfer window opened in Major League Soccer, what fans of the sport may refer to as “the silly season.” It’s in this silly season between now and Wednesday, Aug. 4 that teams attempt to make waves in order to bolster their chances at an MLS Cup Playoffs berth later on in the fall. One such move will see former MLS MVP Alejandro Pozuelo move to Inter Miami!

Already, we’ve seen one signing in the silly season that’s turning heads, when LAFC announced a few weeks ago that it would be acquiring the services of former Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur forward Gareth Bale when the transfer window opened up, yet the chances of Bale debuting Friday night against the LA Galaxy have grown slim due to a paperwork snafu.

A Former MLS MVP On The Move From Ontario to South Beach

While Gareth Bale’s immediate future is in question, a former MLS MVP’s future is all but assured, as it was announced Thursday morning that Alejandro Pozuelo, who won the 2020 Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award, would be departing Toronto FC for Inter Miami CF by way of trade.

Inter Miami acquired Pozuelo for $150,000 (USD), with the team paying $75,000 in General Allocation Money over the next two years to Toronto FC in exchange for the midfielder as part of the trade

Chris Henderson Speaks about the former MLS MVP

With the move to acquire Alejandro Pozuelo made, Inter Miami CF Sporting Director Chris Henderson spoke on the matter earlier Thursday.

“We’re thrilled to be able to welcome a player of Alejandro’s caliber,” Henderson began. “He has proven himself to be one of the brightest talents in the league and we are confident that will continue here in South Florida. We were looking to add a decisive, creative attacking player and we feel he fits the profile.”

Pozuelo’s statistics since joining MLS speak for themselves, including his numbers thus far in his fourth season in the league.

Alejandro Pozuelo By The Numbers: 2019

Alejandro Pozuelo joined Major League Soccer about a month into its 2019 season for Toronto FC, netting 12 goals alongside another 12 assists over the course of 30 of the team’s 34 regular season matches including a brace in his Toronto FC debut, becoming the team’s No. 1 goal scorer in the process en route to a berth in that year’s MLS Cup Playoffs.

During postseason play that year, Pozuelo tallied another two goals with three assists as he helped Toronto FC reach the 2019 MLS Cup Final.

In the MLS Cup Final in 2019, Toronto FC was beaten by Seattle Sounders FC, 3-1, a match where Alejandro Pozuelo was kept off of the scoreboard and the lone Toronto goal was netted by USMNT forward Jozy Altidore during second-half stoppage time.

That MLS Cup Final was the second time in three seasons that Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders met for the championship, as the teams previously played in MLS Cup 2017.

Alejandro Pozuelo By The Numbers: 2020 MLS MVP Season

The 2020 MLS season began on Feb. 29 of that year, setting a record for earliest start to an MLS season in league history, a record that would only stand for two years.

Alejandro Pozuelo started his season off right on opening day, converting on a 40th-minute penalty kick for his first goal of the season en route to a 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on the road in Northern California on Leap Day, but he’d be held scoreless in a 1-0 victory a week later versus New York City FC

After the second weekend of the season, MLS, along with all other sports organizations which would otherwise have been in-season at the time, suspended play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MLS would ultimately draft a return-to-play plan which would carry it through the balance of the regular season and playoffs, beginning that July with the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando.

It would take Pozuelo almost seven months (counting the hiatus) to get back on the scoreboard in league play, netting his second tally of the abbreviated season that September with a 17th-minute strike on the road against DC United.

He’d score goals in three straight games that month en route to a nine-goal campaign (tying him for No. 1 in goals with forward Ayo Akinola, including an 84th-minute penalty kick on Nov. 1, 2020, giving him the Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award for the season.

Alejandro Pozuelo By The Numbers: 2021

MLS would return to a more normal schedule in 2021, starting with opening weekend between April 16-18, but Alejandro Pozuelo would not make his season debut until May last year as he recuperated from a strained thigh muscle sustained during preseason training camp, resulting in him missing 10 games.

His offensive impact was greatly diminished in 2021, scoring just a single goal on Aug. 7 during a 2-2 draw against NYCFC.

Pozuelo would sustain a leg injury last September, costing him six games.

All told, Alejandro Pozuelo would make just 14 starts in 19 games played.

Alejandro Pozuelo By The Numbers: 2022 (So Far)

The 2022 MLS season marked the return of an on-time, on-schedule season beginning on Feb. 26, a new record for earliest start to an MLS season in its 27-year history, and Alejandro Pozuelo made up for lost time in the early portion of this season.

Prior to Thursday morning’s trade, Pozuelo started in all 16 of Toronto FC’s matches, scoring four goals along with recording five assists.

His last Toronto FC goals in league play came during a 2-2 draw against Chicago Fire FC on May 28, when he netted his second brace of the season.

Just last weekend, Alejandro Pozuelo would play in his 100th match for Toronto FC, competition notwithstanding, a 2-0 loss to Seattle, getting traded five days later.

Phil Neville Speaks on the former MLS MVP and Final Thoughts

Subsequent to Chris Henderson’s comments on the trade for Pozuelo, Inter Miami CF manager Phil Neville also offered up his thoughts on his team’s new player Thursday morning.

“We believe Alejandro will fit right in with our group,” Neville said. “He’s a player of tremendous quality that we feel can be a real game changer for us. We can’t wait to integrate him into the squad and are looking forward to seeing him on the pitch in Miami colors.”

The statistics don’t lie: Inter Miami CF traded for a good player on Thursday morning in Alejandro Pozuelo, a man who has been voted to each of the last two MLS All-Star Games, in addition to his MLS MVP, was instrumental in Toronto FC clinching a playoff berth during the 2019 season.

At the end of the day, whether or not he’ll keep his form in Miami is all up to the man himself.

We’ll know soon enough as to if Inter Miami’s return on investment with the former MLS MVP was worthwhile.

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Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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