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LAFC’s Tom Penn talks “Showtime“ and signing Carlos Vela

Magic-era Lakers an inspiration for MLS expansion team.

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Courtesy of LAFC

Los Angeles Football Club has had quite a summer. Banc of California Stadium is making progress towards being one of the most unique stadiums in the world. Bob Bradley has been hired as manager, and Carlos Vela has been signed as the club’s first Designated Player. And if president and co-owner Tom Penn is correct, LAFC will be an exciting team to watch when they begin play in the 2018 season.

Penn joined the Max and Herc Podcast on ESPNFC with Max Bretos and Herculez Gomez this week, and said that the ownership and the coaching staff want a team that “identifies with the city’s image and brand,“ similar to the way that Pittsburgh’s teams like the Steelers and Pirates reflect the city’s culture.

“The identity of LA is that LA is creative, and innovative, and LA is sort of a city on the front foot and pushing the envelope and everything. So we want to play a fast, attacking... something that is showtime-esque, that’s pleasing, and what Bob Bradley said is he wants to be true to the tradition of the game, and to play real and authentic, good football but in an exciting, showtime manner. For LA, that connects to what the city is all about.”

“Showtime,” of course, is the nickname for the Los Angeles Lakers’ entertaining style of play in the 1980s, with Magic Johnson running the point like no player had ever done before. Johnson, of course, is also an LAFC co-owner — can the playing style come full circle and translate to soccer?

Penn then talked about LAFC’s first-ever Designated Player signing, Mexican international Carlos Vela. He had praise for the player, saying that he is the most talented player in the Mexican National Player pool.

He also added an interesting tidbit about the challenge of signing players, something that LAFC experienced early in the summer before signing Vela.

“It was a challenge in a World Cup year, with all the tricks that go with that in trying to get someone to come in January in the middle of their European season, and the stars lined up and we got a player who we never really thought we could.“

We at Angels on Parade have covered the journey to LAFC’s first DP extensively, as we saw links to players such as Chicharito, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Wesley Sneijder, Andres Guardado, and Keisuke Honda all fall flat. While LAFC finally have their first man, one whom they are clearly excited for and have absolutely embraced, it is fascinating to hear the owner of the club admit some struggles because of a combination of the World Cup and the MLS season’s placement on the calendar, as well as LAFC’s timing of entering MLS.

If you want to listen to the whole interview, you can check out the Max and Herc Podcast on ESPN.com and on Apple Podcasts.

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