MLS teams need to meet roster compliance deadlines for the upcoming 2022 season by Friday, and with LAFC co-president John Thorrington and new director of football operations Marco Antonio Garces speaking to reporters on Wednesday, we got some updates ahead of Saturday’s season opener.
Thorrington confirmed that midfielder Francisco Ginella has received his Green Card this offseason and will not occupy an international roster slot for the upcoming season. He also said there’s “an outside chance” they could get a second complete before roster compliance. It seems likely that player could be Jose Cifuentes, but that is not a certainty. MLS has tightened up Green Card regulations in recent seasons and if a player does not have a Green Card before the roster compliance deadline, even if he gets in later in the year, he won’t count that season as a domestic player.
In addition, Canadian newcomers Maxime Crepeau and Doneil Henry will both count as international players this season on LAFC’s roster and will require international roster slots. Thorrington said the club will work on getting them Green Cards as quickly as possible, hopefully before the start of next season.
If you’re confused as to why Canadian players don’t just count as domestic players in a league that has Canadian teams, it is admittedly confusing. In the past, MLS Commissioner Don Garber has blamed the issue on American labor laws, but it’s worth noting the league has implemented some tweaks to give exceptions to the rules. Thorrington explained the issue was a worldwide one dictated from federations, which makes some sense considering so few domestic leagues in the world cross national borders.
“The way the MLS when they made the designation of these players what they did and what is not well known is it’s not necessarily just an MLS league policy, but it also has much input from the federations, both the US Soccer Federation and the Canadian Federation as to who can be designated for and and who is more importantly, designated as domestic player,” Thorrington said. “And most federations do so to ensure that the local player has as much chance as possible to play. So that’s the basis for foreign and domestic designations worldwide. What MLS has done, and I don’t know you have to forgive me. I don’t know exactly when it happened. The first time we dealt with it was our first year in 2018 with Mark-Anthony Kaye. The rule is such that if a Canadian player has been a part of an MLS Academy at a certain age or younger, then they will be designated as domestic if they were to move to an MLS team in America. So unfortunately, Doneil and Max did not meet that threshold with Toronto and Montreal, respectively.”
Clear as mud, but those are the rules LAFC is working with.
In other news, what of the Diego Rossi situation? The forward remains on loan with Turkish club Fenerbahçe, but a recent release from Fener that has circulated on social media claims Rossi’s transfer from LAFC is complete. Amid rumors the Turkish club are looking to quickly flip the Uruguayan, Thorrington was asked about Rossi’s status in relation to LAFC.
“He technically is still on loan, but our expectation as it was from the beginning is that will soon conclude with the full transfer to Fenerbahçe,” said Thorrington. “We expect news on that in the coming weeks. I have heard that there are rumors of subsequent plans as to where he may go if he were to leave Fenerbahçe but that is not anything that we deal with. That’ll be up to them once the transfer is complete. And I know nothing more, other than those rumors. But from our perspective, nothing has changed and we have full expectations that Diego will be transferred.”
As a result, LAFC are unable to add a new Designated Player to the roster until after Rossi’s transfer from the MLS club is official. Thorrington sounded optimistic the club could secure a new DP in the primary transfer window, open now, but that’s to be determined.
Finally, the executives were asked about the status of Carlos Vela beyond when his contract runs out, which rather alarmingly, was previously reported to be this summer. Thorrington only said talks were “continuing and picking up speed” with the star, with the club acting as though Vela will not be departing in short order. Time will tell on that front.
LAFC open the 2022 season Saturday afternoon at The Banc against the Colorado Rapids.
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