The 19-year-old Jamaican midfielder – selected with the 40th pick, LAFC's first of the draft – has already competed at every level for his country, boasting five goals in eight appearances for the senior national team.
"[He's] a good footballer," Bradley told MLSsoccer.com on Friday in Chicago. "I was very surprised that he didn’t go earlier. We kept thinking that maybe he would slip. He’s got really good feet – his ability to control balls and make passes. So I’m excited to work with him.”
Vassell's own assessment of his strengths matches Bradley's description. Those strengths are also well-tailored to the style of play already in place at LAFC.
"It’s about keeping good possession of the ball, going forward into attacks and scoring goals,” said Vassell. "They like to keep good possession of the ball, and that’s my thing.”
At first, LAFC appeared ready to inject some early draft day drama. MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal reported that Bradley's side were prepared to offer a combined $200,000 in General Allocation Money and Targeted Allocation Money to FC Cincinnati in exchange for the No. 1 pick. The two sides came to terms on a deal earlier in the week that sent LAFC's first-round pick to Cincinnati.
But LAFC and the expansion club couldn't agree to terms, and Cincinnati drafted Frankie Amaya in the top spot. So LAFC selected a player in Vassell that Bradley admires for having "an easy way of doing things."
"We tried a few things," Bradley said. "Seeing if we could move up. But those ideas didn’t work. We still come away with a young player who we think has talent.”
Vassell becomes the first member of his family to play soccer professionally outside of Jamaica, and is preparing to visit Los Angeles for the first time.
"It's a big dream," he said. "[Bradley] said he was happy to have me, and I’m happy to be at the club. I hope I can help the club going forward.”