When soccer’s rumor mill begins churning about someone joining a new club, and the club insists nothing is finalized and no contract has been signed and not to jump to conclusions, this is why:

AS Monaco’s Carlos Avina was widely reported to be heading to MLS expansion franchise San Diego FC as its sporting director after the conclusion of the French league’s season, with a formal announcement in the coming weeks.

Except it’s not happening now.

The club confirmed reports Sunday by respected Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano, the same person who first linked Avina to SDFC, that the Mexican-born executive is no longer coming.

“We couldn’t reach final terms and don’t have an agreement moving forward,” SDFC CEO Tom Penn said.

The development is not expected to impact the signing of Mexican winger Hirving “Chucky” Lozano from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, which also has been widely reported in recent weeks. That deal has been described by sources as being “in the final stages.”

It may impact, however, the timing of hiring a head coach, which generally falls to the sporting director (soccer-speak for general manager).

Avina spent five years with Mexico City’s Club America in various scouting and player development roles, then served as sporting director at Belgian club Cercle Brugge, then moved to AS Monaco in the same role last summer.

“We’re still very active and we’re hopeful to have a significant (player) signing soon,” Penn said. “We’re continue to look for the right combination of sporting director and head coach who are aligned with the Right to Dream style of commitment to young players and commitment to winning now. We’ve had a bunch of interest from a number of individuals.”

On Thursday, SDFC and the Tijuana Xolos announced a partnership that includes a five-year commitment for an annual friendly at Snapdragon Stadium in Mission Valley that will be included in SDFC’s season-ticket package. The two clubs also hope to exploit cross-marketing, cross-border opportunities — especially with the Xolos typically playing Friday nights in Liga MX and SDFC expected to play Saturday nights in MLS.

“People said, ‘What’s it going to be like with Xolos? Is it difficult?’” Penn said. “When we were able to meet the leadership of the club, we just had this connection around the spirit of the game. Let’s compete in a friendly way but let’s collaborate to do something good in our communities.”

Said Xolos owner Jorgealberto Hank, who attended University of San Diego High School (now Cathedral Catholic): “I grew up in this area, I love this area. When we started Club Tijuana, we always wanted to be looked at as a team with no borders. It’s a regional team for us, and I think that’s exactly what you guys want for San Diego FC and I think we can co-exist in many ways.

“It’s always good to have a healthy rivalry on the pitch. I think our fans can be fans of both teams, and I think the whole region wins with you coming here.”


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