MLS Ticker: Sounders sign Rusnak, SKC retains pair of veterans, and more

MLS Ticker: Sounders sign Rusnak, SKC retains pair of veterans, and more

The Seattle Sounders filled their third and final Designated Player spot on Thursday, bringing in one of MLS’ more recent productive attacking stars.

Albert Rusnak joined the club on Thursday, signing a two-year deal with the Sounders, which includes a club option for 2024. The 27-year-old Slovakian has totaled 41 goals and 39 assists in five seasons previously with Real Salt Lake.

“We are very excited to welcome such a quality player like Albert to Seattle,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “At 27, he is in the prime of his career and already knows our league very well. We’re confident his addition puts our roster in a very good position to succeed in 2022.”

Rusnák is coming off a 2021 season where he scored a career-high 11 goals to go along with 11 assists, while starting all 34 MLS regular season games for RSL. Prior to his move to MLS, Rusnak played with Dutch Eredivisie side FC Groningen for three seasons.

Rusnak will join a lively Sounders attack which already features Raul Ruidiaz, Jordan Morris, and Nicolas Lodeiro. The Sounders were eliminated in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2021, losing to Real Salt Lake at Lumen Field in a penalty shootout.

Here’s all of Thursday’s MLS news:


Sporting KC re-signs veterans Zusi, Espinoza


Sporting Kansas City retained a pair of key veteran figures, re-signing Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza on Thursday.

Both Zusi and Espinoza signed one-year deals through 2022 with SKC. Zusi and Espinoza have played key roles for the club during their lengthy times in Kansas City.

Zusi has played his entire 13-year MLS career with SKC, winning one MLS Cup and three U.S. Open Cup titles. The 35-year-old is SKC’s all-time appearance leader with 373 appearances, while also registering 33 goals and 87 assists. Zusi has also earned 55 caps with the U.S. men’s national team.

Espinoza ranks third in club history with 335 appearances, while also playing a part in three U.S. Open Cup titles. The midfielder has totaled 12 goals and 43 assists during his time with the club over two separate stints.

SKC was eliminated in the second round of the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2021.


Austin FC signs Colombian midfielder Jhojan Valencia


Austin FC bolstered its midfield options on Thursday, acquiring Colombian midfielder Jhojan Valencia on a permanent deal.

Valencia joins from Deportivo Cali and has signed a three-year contract, which includes an option for 2025. The 25-year-old will occupy an international roster spot on Austin FC’s roster.

“I’m very excited to come to Austin,” said Valencia. “It’s such an amazing city, with great support for the Club and everything needed to compete for trophies. I want to thank Claudio and Josh for their support, and I look forward to all of the great moments ahead.”

A Colombia native, Valencia made 73 appearances in all competitions for Deportivo Cali, registering one goal and one assist en route to helping the club win two Colombian First Division titles. In addition, the midfielder spent time on loan with Cúcuta Deportivo in 2017 and two seasons on loan with Unión Magdalena in 2018 and 2019, helping Unión win promotion to the Colombian top flight for the 2019 season.

Austin FC failed to make the playoffs in its inaugural season in 2021, but will hope for better success in Josh Wolff’s second season in charge.


Quakes re-sign goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski

J.T. Marcinkowski will continue to play a leading role for the San Jose Earthquakes after re-signing with the club on Thursday.

Marcinkowski, a former Homegrown player with the Western Conference club, signed a new deal through 2024. The 24-year-old Marcinkowski, 24, earned the No. 1 job in San Jose in 2021 and ranked second in MLS with 129 saves.

“JT has quickly become a leader on the field and a role model in the community,” San Jose general manager Chris Leitch said. “Not only is he someone our academy players can look up to, but he’s developed into one of the best young goalkeepers in all of Major League Soccer.”

Marcinkowski has registered 10 clean sheets in 49 appearances with the Quakes. He’s appeared in three USMNT camps and previously represented the USMNT U-23 and U-20 national teams in competitive play.


Minnesota United re-acquires forward Abu Danladi


Abu Danladi is back with Minnesota United after rejoining the club on a one-year deal on Thursday.

Danladi, a former No. 1 overall pick by the Loons in the 2017 MLS Draft, made a total of 67 appearances with 11 goals and six assists to his name. The forward also played two seasons with Nashville SC, totaling three goals and one assist in 26 appearances for the club.

“I’m really pleased because I think we as a club, and Abu [Danladi], have a little bit of unfinished business,” said Loons head coach Adrian Heath. “Everybody knows I was really disappointed when we lost him [in the Expansion Draft]. There’s a top player there. I love him as a kid and he’s got great potential. People forget that he scored eight goals in his first year as a professional and if we can get him back to playing in that vein of form, then I know we’ve got somebody who can contribute for years to come.”

The 26-year-old will add some needed experience to the Loons attacking corps in 2022.


Quick Kicks

  • The Portland Timbers signed goalkeepers David Bingham and Aljaz Ivacic to two-year contracts on Thursday. Ivacic’s contract includes a club option for 2024. Portland lost starting goalkeeper Steve Clark to free agency this offseason, before the veteran signed with the Houston Dynamo.
  • Inter Miami signed midfielder George Acosta and defender Aime Mabika to first team contracts. Acosta’s deal will run through 2022 while Mabika’s contract extends through 2023. Both players have played previously with USL affiliate Fort Lauderdale FC.
  • Real Salt Lake made its fourth Homegrown signing this week, signing Jaziel Orozco to a first team contract. Orozco made 24 appearances in the Real Monarchs backline in 2021 after making his professional debut back in May.
  • D.C. United made its 17th Homegrown signing in club history, inking midfielder Ted Ku-DiPietro to a two-year deal. Ku-DiPietro has made 48 appearances for USL affiliate Loundon United, scoring nine goals and recording four assists since debuting in 2019.
  • The Columbus Crew signed midfielder Sean Zawadzki to a Homegrown player contract through 2023. Zawadzki played collegiately at Georgetown University for the past four seasons.