Toronto FC acquires Mexican defender Carlos Salcedo, transfers Yeferson Soteldo


Published January 31, 2022 at 4:56 pm

Toronto FC has confirmed the acquisition of Mexican international defender Carlos Salcedo from Mexico’s Tigres UANL as a designated player through 2024, with Venezuelan international winger Yeferson Soteldo going the other way. 

While the MLS club called them two separate transactions, they are intertwined. Soteldo’s departure provides the designated player opening Salcedo needed. 

The 28-year-old Salcedo, who started his pro career in MLS with Real Salt Lake, has also played in Italy and Germany. He has won 48 caps for Mexico, making his international debut in April 2015, and started all four matches at the 2018 World Cup. 

Toronto hopes Salcedo will instil the steel in defence that was absent last season when TFC gave up a franchise-worst 66 goals. Nicknamed El Titan for his strength in the air and on the ground, the six-foot 183-pounder seems the right man for the job. 

TFC kept digging a hole for itself in 2021, conceding a league-worst 15 goals in the first 15 minutes of games. Toronto was 2-17-6 when allowing the first goal in a dismal season that saw it finish 26th out of 27 teams with a 6-18-10 record. 

“Carlos is an excellent defender with a strong mentality and his ability to play from the back will be important for us,” Bob Bradley, TFC’s head coach and sporting director, said in a statement. “He has a track record as a winner and has played an important role on a very good Tigres team.” 

Soteldo is the 15th player out the door from last year’s first-team roster. 

“I look forward to playing in front of Toronto FC fans, making them proud and making history with the club,” Salcedo said in a statement.

With Italian star Lorenzo Insigne set to join the club in July when his contract with Napoli expires, Toronto has more roster work to do. It’s expected TFC will buy out the contract of striker Jozy Altidore, who spent close to two months on the outs with the club last season, to create a DP slot for Insigne. 

Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, named league MVP in 2020, remains with the club as the other DP. 

Soteldo, 24, showed flashes of brilliance in his one season with Toronto recording four goals and 10 assists in 26 appearances in all competitions. Elusive on the ball, he tormented defenders at times. But his season was interrupted by injury and his body language on the field sometimes suggested he wasn’t a happy camper. 

Salcedo’s arrival and Soteldo’s departure makes it two days in a row that TFC has made headlines. 

On Thursday, the club confirmed that former star forward Sebastian Giovinco is in camp. The 35-year-Italian, the club’s all-time leading scorer who won MVP honours with Toronto in 2015, is currently without a contract but says he wants to finish his career in TFC colours. 

Salcedo returns to MLS after spending the last four seasons with Tigres, where he made a combined 102 appearances and scored seven goals in all competitions. He won the 2019 Clausura Championship and was a part of the Tigres squad that won the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League. 

A native of Guadalajara, Salcedo is a graduate of the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy. His father Carlos played with academy director Martin Vasquez at Guadalajara-based Club Atlas while his grandfather Manuel played for Chivas Guadalajara in the 1950s. 

Salcedo signed with Real Salt Lake as a homegrown player in January 2013, scoring nine goals in 43 appearances over two seasons with the club. Before joining the RSL academy, Salcedo was a part of Tigres’ and Guadalajara youth systems. 

Salcedo left MLS for Mexico in 2015, joining Chivas Guadalajara for two seasons. In August 2016, he went on a short loan to Fiorentina, becoming only the third Mexican to play in Italy after Miguel Layun and Rafael Marquez. He went out on loan Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt in June 2017. 

In two seasons with Frankfurt, Salcedo appeared in 34 matches, scored eight goals in all competitions and won the 2017-18 German Cup. 

“Carlos is a fierce competitor who I have known since he was a young player with Real Salt Lake seven years ago,“ Toronto president Bill Manning, a former RSL president, said in a statement. “ 

“Carlos is one of the top defenders in the CONCACAF region and will immediately improve our backline as we build for 2022 and beyond,” Manning added. 

Salcedo will likely pair up with Chris Mavinga, a French-born centre back who plays internationally for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Toronto opted not to pick up the contract option on veteran Omar Gonzalez, who partnered Mavinga at the heart of the Toronto defence the last three seasons. 

The 33-year-old Gonzalez has since joined the New England Revolution. Veteran backup centre back Eriq Zavaleta, whose option was also declined in December, has also left. 

Soteldo joined Toronto last April in a US$6.5 million transfer from Brazil’s Santos FC, where he wore the same No. 10 that Brazilian legend Pele had at the club. 

The five-foot-two winger signed through 2025 with a salary of US$1.965 million last season, according to the MLS Players Association. 

At the time, Manning called Soteldo “a dynamic, exciting, fearless player who will immediately improve our already strong roster.” Then GM Ali Curtis described Soteldo as a “difference maker.” 

Soteldo filled the DP spot left by Argentina’s Pablo Piatti, whose option was not picked up by the MLS club after the 2020 season. 

MLS rules allow for teams to have up to three designated players with only a portion of their salary counting against the club’s salary budget. Last season the maximum salary budget charge for a DP was US$612,500. 

Pozuelo earned US$4.693 million, fourth-most in the league, while Altidore was the seventh-highest at US$3.6 million. 

MLS teams are allowed to buy out one contract in the off-season without it counting against the cap. 


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2022.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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