Carlos Vela’s first goal for Mexico’s senior team was scored in Los Angeles.
He and Bob Bradley used to face off on opposite sides of the Mexico-U.S. rivalry, as Vela plays for El Tri and Bradley managed the USMNT from 2006-11. Both have previous connections of a sort with Chivas de Guadalajara, with Vela being a product of the Mexican club’s academy and Bradley coached the Chivas-owned Chivas USA MLS team in 2006.
Now, the duo join forces for the first time, as Bradley is the first head coach and Vela the first Designated Player for MLS expansion team Los Angeles Football Club, which begin play next year.
The coach and player were asked about each other during Vela’s introductory press conference at the California Science Center on Friday.
“First DP, first signing, first player. It’s a statement,” Bradley said during the press conference. “It’s a statement that reaffirms what the club is all about, the values, the connection with the city.
“And it’s a statement of what we want our football to be like, because when you have a player like Carlos, who’s capable of scoring great goals, setting up goals, a player that when he has the ball at his feet, the stadium rises because you know good things will happen — this is what we will be about when we step on the field.”
For his part, Vela was straightforward in his assessment of his new manager.
“I think he’s a great coach,” he said. “I’d like to be part of his team, and I hope we can make a good team. That’s important for me, because when you feel you have a good coach, it’s easier to [play].”
While there has been a vocal opposition to Vela’s arrival into MLS among some Mexican fans and press, Bradley did some name-dropping of famous former players of his who were impressed with LAFC landing Vela.
“The biggest testament for this signing — social media is great, all the things that we judge — but yesterday, from my football friends, Hristo Stoichkov, Mohammed Salah, many others, my phone was lighting up. Because they know what kind of player, what kind of person [he is], and every one of them said, ‘That is a great day for LAFC.’”
As he did during his own introductory press conference, Bradley made sure to tie the latest move in building the expansion side to the entire community.
“It’s the start of building a team that I think everybody is going to be proud of, and we do it together,” he said, pointing to the supporters in attendance.
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