Los Angeles Football Club had an open Designated Player spot, and they have officially filled it, after announcing the signing of Uruguayan attacker Brian Rodriguez on Wednesday, officially as a young DP.
The 19-year-old joins from Uruguayan powerhouse Peñarol, the club LAFC star Diego Rossi came through. Following a transfer saga of about two weeks, in which Peñarol’s executives have declared the deal done repeatedly and effectively off at other times, the deal is done and the player is a member of the black-and-gold.
“Brian is an exciting and dynamic player who is one of the top talents in South America,” LAFC EVP & General Manager John Thorrington said in a team statement. “Acquiring a player of Brian’s quality in this window is another powerful statement from LAFC about our commitment to winning and building a Club that excites our supporters.”
“We’re very excited to bring Brian to LAFC,” said LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. “He is an exciting player that will fit in with our style of football, and we can’t wait to work with him.”
Rodriguez made his first-team debut for Peñarol only about a year and a half ago, and has played 26 games across domestic and continental competitions. He has experience in both the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, has won a full season title with Peñarol, and has three goals and seven assists to date in his career.
He’s also a U-20 international for Uruguay, playing at the 2019 U-20 World Cup, where he made four appearances, scoring two goals and an assist as the South Americans reached the knockout stage.
Rodriguez appears to be a mold similar to Rossi, a versatile attacker capable of both scoring and setting up teammates. It should be noted that Rossi had played close to twice as many games for Peñarol before joining LAFC, although both players came over at 19.
Given LAFC’s track record, it seems likely Rodriguez would be brought along slowly into the lineup, although the fact that he’s been playing for Peñarol lately means he should have match fitness.
At the same time, it will be interesting to see how things unfold, both for Rodriguez and for LAFC. Many will see this signing as a succession plan or insurance policy if Rossi is indeed sold to Europe, with tangible rumors bubbling up in recent weeks. And assuming the newcomer will most likely play as a wide forward in a 4-3-3, he will be unlikely to bump Rossi or MLS MVP frontrunner Carlos Vela from the lineup, and may not get many minutes in the homestretch. And given LAFC’s first-place standing, that may be just fine for now.
But if Rodriguez can adjust to MLS and make use of the minutes he is given, then he may force Bob Bradley to make some tough decisions, something that never happened with former DP Andre Horta. It would be unfair to compare Rodriguez to any other player based on the team’s track record, but hopefully he’ll be the next big hit for the black-and-gold.
It’s unclear if Rodriguez will be available for Sunday’s game against the New York Red Bulls, but once his paperwork clears he should be eligible later this month at the latest.
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