MLS Transfer roundup: Johnson to Toronto, Freese to NYCFC

The MLS transfers are heating up as the 2023 campaign approaches. Here’s everything you missed:

Sean JohnsonSean Johnson

Sean Johnson joins Toronto FC. / Ira L. Black – Corbis/GettyImages

Sean Johnson is headed to Toronto FC. 

The Reds signed the goalkeeper as a free agent using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). He joined through the 2024 Major League Soccer season.

“Sean has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, given his club and international career,” Toronto head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley said in a release. 

“Sean continues to demonstrate his elite shot-stopping ability, athleticism, and decision-making in important moments and the biggest games.”

Johnson departs New York City FC after five years, where he helped the team lift their first league trophy. He entered the league in 2010 through the MLS SuperDraft, and spent six years with Chicago Fire FC before joining NYCFC. 

Overall, he’s recorded 355 regular-season MLS matches. 

Matt FreeseMatt Freese

Matt Freese joins NYCFC. / Ira L. Black – Corbis/GettyImages

Matt Freese replaces Sean Johnson at NYCFC. 

The Eastern Conference team announced the signing of goalkeeper Matt Freese, just as Johnson joins Toronto FC.

NYCFC completed a trade with the Philadelphia Union for the goalkeeper, in exchange for a guaranteed $350,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM). The Union will also receive a percentage of a future transfer fee and could get an additional $400k in conditional GAM.

“We are delighted to have been able to finalize this acquisition and would like to welcome Matt to New York,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said in a release.

“He is an extremely talented American goalkeeper who is coming into the best years of his career. He is an excellent shot-stopper, and we believe is ready to take the next step in his career and we are excited to see his continued development at NYCFC.”

Freese previously served as the backup goalkeeper at the Union, standing behind Andre Blake.

Emerson RodriguezEmerson Rodriguez

Emerson Rodriguez joins Santos Laguna on loan. / Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Inter Miami have loaned winger Emerson Rodriguez to Liga MX’s Santos Laguna through the end of 2023. 

He departs after one goal in 22 league appearances for Inter Miami, and three goals for the MLS NEXT Pro affiliate Inter Miami CF II. He’s expected to see a lot more playing time under Eduardo Fentanes, as Santos Laguna’s squad needs bolstering.

Amro TarekAmro Tarek

Amro Tarek joins Austin FC. / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Austin FC have signed Amro Tarek through the 2023 MLS season with an option for 2024.

He last played for Al Masry SC in the Egyptian Premier League, moving overseas in 2021 after two-and-a-half seasons at the New York Red Bulls. He also saw loan spells with Columbus Crew in 2016 and Orlando City SC in 2018, contributing to two goals and one assist across 66 MLS regular-season appearances.

The versatile defender can also play left back.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to play for Austin FC and to help the team toward its goal of winning trophies this season,” Tarek said in a release. “Everything I have seen about the club, from the fans and the facilities to the players and the coaching staff, has been first-class, and I can’t wait to get started.

“I’m also very grateful to my former club, and for their understanding of my family situation and why this move made sense for me at this time. I look forward to getting started.”

Tarek will not occupy an international roster spot since he was born in the United States. 

“Amro is an athletic, left-footed center back who adds another option to our talented group of defenders as we prepare to compete in four different competitions during the 2023 season,” Austin interim sporting director Sean Rubio said in a release. 

“We wish him a warm welcome to the club and to the city of Austin.”

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