By Ivan Yeo
Another milestone reached for LAFC.
Almost two weeks after hiring Bob Bradley to be its first head coach, LAFC signed its first player on Wednesday. The team announced they had agreed to terms with Mexican international forward Carlos Vela on a Designated Player contract.
Vela will remain with his current team, Real Sociedad, until the January Transfer window, at which then he will join LAFC in time for training camp ahead of its inaugural season in 2018.
Vela’s abilities for club and country are certainly noteworthy, as well as his ability to draw from the Vast Mexical community in Los Angeles. What makes Vela attractive for LAFC is the fact that Vela is just 28 and entering his prime, meaning that LAFC could have a player to build around on the field for many years to come.
Vela’s club career has certainly taken him to a lot of places. Vela first started out in Guadalajara’s youth teams, and his performance caught the eye of several European teams. Arsenal came out the winner for his signature in 2005, and Vela was immediately loaned out to two Spanish clubs, first to Salamanca, then to Osasuna as Vela awaited his work permit.
Vela finally obtained that work permit in 2008, but still struggle to crack Arsenal’s main squad. Then midway through the 2010-2011 season, Vela was loaned out to West Bromwich for the remainder of the season, then in August of 2011, Vela was loaned out again, this time to Real Sociedad, for the entire 2011-2012 season. It was at San Sebastian that Vela finally started to realize his potential. In 30 matches in all competitions in 2012, Vela scored 12 goals, and his breakout season was enough for Sociedad to pay a three million transfer fee to secure his services. In the four season following the loan spell, Vela has featured in 171 matches and scored 53 goals.
Vela has also had a rocky tenure for the Mexican national team. Vela had a three-year hiatus from the national team from February 2011 until November 2014. During that time, Vela declined numerous call-ups to the team and despite some last minute attempts by the federation, chose not to participate in the 2014 World Cup. Vela however has not only returned to El Tri, but has started to establish themselves as one of its key players. Recently, Vela scored the equalizer in Mexico’s 1-1 draw with the United States in World Cup qualifying back on June 11.