TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Trade
- TOR receive: CJ Sapong
- NSH receive: Lukas MacNaughton, up to $200k GAM
Toronto FC have acquired veteran forward CJ Sapong from Nashville SC in exchange for Canadian international center back Lukas MacNaughton and up to $200,000 in General Allocation Money, the Eastern Conference clubs announced Tuesday morning.
The deal, completed before the league’s Primary Transfer Window deadline Monday night, has $125k GAM guaranteed in 2024 and $75k GAM in 2025 based on Sapong's performance.
Sapong, 34, continues the veteran theme around Toronto’s roster moves and will compete for starter’s minutes up top alongside Adama Diomande and Canadian international Ayo Akinola. Both Diomande and Akinola have battled injuries in the first quarter of TFC’s 2023 season. In the club's 4-3-3 formation, they're the focal point alongside DP wingers and Italian internationals Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne.
Sapong has played in MLS since 2011, leading to 88 goals and 35 assists across 350 regular-season games (271 starts). He’s featured for Sporting Kansas City, Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire FC and Nashville.
“CJ has a long track record of scoring goals in MLS,” Toronto head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley said in a release. “His work rate, mentality, and ability to impose himself on opponents in front of the goal are some of the important qualities we look forward to seeing from him here at TFC.”
MacNaughton, 28, joined Toronto ahead of the 2022 season from Canadian Premier League club Pacific FC. He ultimately played in 28 games (22 starts) for the club.
In Nashville, MacNaughton enhances their center back depth alongside US international Walker Zimmerman and Jack Maher. They also have the likes of Josh Bauer and Laurence Wyke as options for head coach Gary Smith.
Nashville have seen some changes at center back over the last few months. Nick DePuy, acquired in an offseason trade from LA Galaxy, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury that was announced in March. They also traded Dave Romney to the New England Revolution during the offseason.
Squad ripple effect
As MacNaughton departs Toronto, their center back group is led by veterans Matt Hedges, Sigurd Rosted and Shane O’Neill. Hedges joined in free agency this offseason after becoming FC Dallas’ all-time appearances leader, while Rosted joined via transfer from Danish club Brøndby IF. Shortly after the Sapong-MacNaughton deal, Toronto also announced they've acquired Zambian international center back center back Aimé Mabika from Inter Miami CF.
At striker, Nashville are now increasingly dependent on MLS veterans Teal Bunbury and Ethan Zubak as part of an offense that’s reliant upon Hany Mukhtar, the reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP and Golden Boot presented by Audi winner. They also have Aké Loba on loan at Liga MX’s Mazatlán FC, a move that still occupies a Designated Player spot.
READ MORE: MLS Transfer Tracker presented by Avant