A closer look at the new international arrivals to MLS NEXT Pro

International Players

The 2024 MLS NEXT Pro regular season is not far from kicking off and several new faces will be seeking a smooth transition to the league later this spring.

Nico Gordon, Jhonathan Restrepo, and Pedrinho are just three of 11 international players to embark on new chapters of their respective careers. Gordon and Mehdi Ouamri are the lone two making their moves from Europe.

North American and South American countries are also represented on this list, showing the continued efforts of scouting departments throughout the league.

Here is a closer look at the new arrivals to MLS NEXT Pro:

Nico Gordon - North Texas SC - England

North Texas SC bolstered their defensive corps with Nico Gordon making the move to MLS NEXT Pro.

The 21-year-old Gordon came through Birmingham City’s Academy before making 16 first-team appearances for the Blues. With EFL Championship experience under his belt, Gordon should fit in nicely with John Gall’s plans for 2024.

Jhonathan Restepo - Colorado Rapids 2 - Colombia

Colorado Rapids 2 have a major hole to fill in their attacking corps but will hope Jhonathan Restrepo can deliver.

Restrepo, 19, comes on loan from the Colombian second division. A former Colombian youth national team player, Restrepo scored four goals in 34 appearances for Leones FC, receiving an early taste of competitive action.

Now he joins a Rapids 2 squad seeking similar success to that of 2023.

Pedrinho - North Texas SC - Brazil

Flair and creativity are both coming to North Texas SC’s midfield this season.

Pedrinho joined the Western Conference club on a one-year deal from Brazilian side Flamengo. The 20-year-old debuted for the Flamengo first team in September 2023 and excelled for the club’s Under-20 team.

With nine goals scored last year, Pedrinho will surely be seeking to carry that form to his new club in Texas.

Antony Garcia - Colorado Rapids 2 - Honduras

Midfield help is also coming to the Colorado Rapids 2 squad this season.

Antony Garcia, a Honduran youth national team midfielder, has joined Rapids 2 on a one-year loan spell. The 19-year-old has 50 first-team appearances under his belt, including three goals and one assist. He will be one of several new faces to watch in the Western Conference.

Callum Watson - Chattanooga FC - England

Experience is one of the most important things you can add to a team and that is exactly what Chattanooga FC is receiving in defense, midfield, and attack.

Watson, 23, makes the move to Chattanooga FC from the Canadian Premier League. Watson played collegiately at Hastings College and Creighton University before joining Halifax Wanderers in 2023.

After 25 appearances for Halifax, Watson now will aim for a leading role in Chattanooga FC’s midfield.

Mehdi Ouamri - Chattanooga FC - Algeria

Mehdi Ouamri is also making the move to MLS NEXT Pro, joining Watson at Chattanooga FC. 

The 24-year-old forward has been a journeyman so far in his career, featuring in Croatia, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and his native Algeria. Ouamri has produced 18 goals and 12 assists in 82 combined appearances to date. Ouamri could very well be the leading man in Rod Underwood’s squad.

Duvan Viafara - Chattanooga FC - Colombia

25-year-old Duvan Viafara rounds out three new international faces in Chattanooga FC’s squad.

Viafara has mainly played in his native Colombia, as well as in Venezuela to date. He’s amassed 66 combined appearances between six clubs, scoring two goals and logging over 5,000 minutes of action. Veteran leadership in Chattanooga FC’s backline is key for the start of their life in MLS NEXT Pro.

Anthony Garcia - Austin FC II - Mexico

A few MLS faces made the move to Liga MX this winter, but Anthony Garcia did the opposite in joining MLS NEXT Pro.

Garcia spent most of 2023 in Santos Laguna's youth system, scoring three goals in 14 appearances for the Under-23s. Before his move to Mexico, Garcia played collegiately at La Sierra University, earning Cal Pac Freshman of the Year honors in 2021 before earning Player of the Year honors in 22’.

Austin FC II has provided early opportunities to young players in the past and Garcia might be next on that growing list.

Yair Ramos - FC Cincinnati 2 - Venezuela

Yair Ramos is one of two 18-year-olds eager to make an impact with FC Cincinnati 2. 

Ramos made the move to the United States from Caracas FC in his native Venezuela. Despite not featuring for the senior team, the midfielder did feature for Caracas’ U-20 squad, including featuring in the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores tournament. He’s also earned multiple Venezuela senior national team call-ups, providing a glimpse of his long-term potential.

Abdoul Zanne - North Texas SC - Ivory Coast

Abdoul Zanne spent the last two seasons in the USL Championship but now has a new opportunity in MLS NEXT Pro.

Zanne joined the Western Conference club on loan from Ivory Coast club ASEC Mimosas. The 20-year-old logged close to 2,500 minutes for Loudoun United in the USL, totaling two goals and four assists in league play. John Gall now has Pedrinho and Zanne to call on for 2024.

Yeiner Valoyes - FC Cincinnati 2 - Colombia

Yeiner Valoyes might just be a prospect to start the 2024 season but he very well could be a key player by season’s end.

Valoyes, 18, played for Sócrates Valencia FC in his native Colombia, earning crucial playing time at a young age. Alongside Yair Ramos, Valoyes will be eager to prove a point for the Eastern Conference club.