Slowly but surely, the bravado surrounding LAFC's entry into Major League Soccer is turning into a reality. The Banc of California Stadium is under construction, the team has hired a big-name coach in Bob Bradley, and had already signed two players to its inaugural roster before today.
Now, that number is reportedly set to expand to three. The 2018 MLS expansion club took another big step in their team-building process this week, with the LA Times breaking news that the team has signed Mexican international forward Carlos Vela to a Designated Player contract. Vela becomes the club's first DP signing.
Real Sociedad later announced that Vela will join MLS for preseason in January after playing the first half of this season in Europe, while Vela himself confirmed the move to LAFC in a Twitter post later on Tuesday evening:
The signing of Vela figures to be as much boon to LAFC off the field as it might be on it. Vela is a bona fide Mexican national team star, albeit one that didn't play for the national team for a three year period that included the 2014 World Cup due to various personal conflicts with the confederation and the team's myriad coaches. Since returning, though, Vela has been a key part of Mexico's run in the 2017 Confederations Cup and 2015 Gold Cups. In Vela, LAFC gets an instantly-marketable star for its community, as well as one that can contribute a fair amount on the field.
Potential, future soccer stadiums in America
Vela has played the last five seasons for Real Sociedad of Spain's La Liga, with which he has bagged 65 goals in a little over 200 appearances. He left Mexico before making a top-flight appearance with Chivas de Guadelajara, instead coming through the youth system at Arsenal and making 29 appearances for the London side from 2005-2011. He also spent time on loan at Osasuna, Salamanca, and West Bromwich Albion.
Vela's signing means that, barring any big-time transfers over the January window, three of El Tri's biggest stars will play in Los Angeles in 2018: The LA Galaxy's Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos, and now Vela with their new rivals LAFC.