Future MLS expansion team Los Angeles Football Club made its first soccer personnel hire Tuesday, announcing that former player John Thorrington will be the club's vice president of soccer operations.
The club, which has a star-studded, 24-person ownership group and paid its $110 million expansion fee with a single check, has largely been focused on off-field details in the build-up to an expected 2018 inaugural season, but the hiring of Thorrington is the first significant move the club has taken toward building a team on the field.
Thorrington was born in South Africa but grew up in the L.A. area and represented the U.S. internationally, earning four caps at the senior level. After eight years on the club scene in Europe–which included signing with Manchester United as a 17-year-old–Thorrington came to MLS in 2005. He played for the Chicago Fire, Vancouver Whitecaps and D.C. United before calling an end to an injury-riddled playing career in 2013.
“Having played both in the U.S. and internationally, John brings an unparalleled depth of insight and experience to our club,” Tom Penn, LAFC’s president and owner, said in a club statement. “John knows our game, he knows our league, and is the right soccer mind to build our team on a global level.”
LAFC is part of MLS's growing expansion plan, with the league's Board of Governors signing off on growth to 28 teams after commissioner Don Garber's plan to expand to 24 teams by 2020. The league currently stands at 20 teams, with LAFC, Atlanta United FC, NASL's Minnesota United FC and David Beckham's team in Miami in line to take the next four places. After a lengthy stop-and-go search, Beckham's group just acquired a stadium location in the Overtown section of Miami, and the MLS Board of Governors approved the stadium proposal, which is a vital step in the club securing a place in MLS.
USL's Sacramento Republic FC remains adamant about its MLS aspirations, with the club unveiling stadium renderings for a potential MLS venue last week. San Antonio officials have also been outspoken about their plans to join the league.