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LAFC sign teenage defender Julian Gaines

Youngster moves to MLS after playing for de facto reserve team.

Gaines (left) in action with Las Vegas.
Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

LAFC announced on Thursday they have signed defender Julian Gaines on a free transfer. Gaines joins after playing with Las Vegas Lights FC this year, but LAFC had to pick him up off the MLS Waiver Wire, sending $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) in 2022 and the No. 21 spot in the MLS Waiver Order to Toronto FC in exchange for the No. 1 slot in the Waiver Order to facilitate the move.

“Julian is a talented and exciting young player who has played well with Las Vegas,” said LAFC Co-President & General Manager John Thorrington in a team statement. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with him at LAFC as he continues to develop as a person and a player.”

The 18-year-old is an Austin, Texas native who made one appearance for Austin Bold in 2019. A U.S. youth international, he spent time playing in the Barca Academy residency program in Arizona, the same program LAFC midfielder Bryce Duke came from. A forward as a youth player, Gaines is being converted to a fullback in Las Vegas and that looks set to continue.

So far in 2021, Gaines has featured 12 times for Las Vegas and I expect he’ll still get loan minutes there this season. But LAFC must think they may need him in a pinch for the first team, so we may see him suiting up for the black-and-gold before long.

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