Gabriel Pec, Joseph Paintsil "bring another level" to LA Galaxy

Gabriel Pec - Joseph Paintsil - intro presser

The LA Galaxy's offseason maneuvering culminated on Friday afternoon, as the club officially introduced new Designated Players Gabriel Pec and Joseph Paintsil during a press conference at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Pec's arrival was announced in late January from Brazilian top-flight side Vasco da Gama, reportedly for a club-record transfer fee of $10 million plus incentives. Paintsil's signing from Belgian Pro League side Genk was announced on Wednesday for reportedly a near-$9 million fee.

Their introduction occurs in the lead-up to the Galaxy's 2024 regular-season opener, when they host Lionel Messi and his star-studded Inter Miami CF on Sunday evening (9 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

"We're really excited to add these guys to the roster," head coach Greg Vanney said of his new wingers.

"This has been the culmination of a lot of work by [general manager] Will [Kuntz] and his team and all of us trying to fill these two positions with guys that can bring the talents that these two gentlemen have – that are younger, that are dynamic, that are going to bring another level to our team."

Ready to debut

While Pec and Paintsil just formally joined training, Vanney anticipates they could debut vs. Inter Miami in some capacity. It also helps that Pec, 23, is in form after representing Brazil at the 2024 Conmebol Pre-Olympic Tournament. Paintsil, 26, was midseason at Genk and featured at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations for Ghana.

"For us, we're excited to get them going," said the former Toronto FC manager. "What role they'll play on the weekend, we'll see. But we are excited to have them a part of the group and get them active."

Added Kuntz: "It was really important for us to have them here as soon as possible so we can start the season in the best way possible."

Both Pec and Paintsil spoke of a desire to help LA return to the MLS elite. The record five-time league champions have missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in five of the past seven seasons, though have a significant global reputation from their days of sporting David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Zlatan Ibrahimović and more.

"I chose LA Galaxy because it's unique and a fantastic club," said Paintsil. "I'm here to always play for the badge and also for the family of LA Galaxy, and to win games and to also win some trophies."

Added Pec: "I hope I can get the club back to where it belongs."

Force multipliers

Pec and Paintsil fill the DP spots opened by the offseason departures of striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and winger Douglas Costa. With proven track records for club and country, they join DP No. 10 Riqui Puig and striker Dejan Jovelic in the final third.

"[Pec and Paintsil] have the speed and the one-on-one ability," explained Vanney. "They're both goal-scoring wingers that we can look for as guys that can threaten the space behind the opposition, get to the front of the goal and can add a different layer to our team. Not just because of their qualities and what they bring, but I think they're also guys who complement the rest of our group and are going to help other guys to be better as well and be more effective in the way they play the game."

With the DP wingers officially in LA, there's the belief that last year's 13th-place Western Conference finish is in the rearview.

"It's safe to say the vibes feel really different," Kuntz said. "Everybody's really excited, really hungry. For a lot of reasons, we want to put 2023 behind us.

"But you can feel the energy with this group, in the building," Kuntz continued. "And that's not just for the players, that's for the front office staff and the people that aren't up here all the time. So I'm really proud to see how this group has come together and really proud of the work we put in this offseason because it was a big lift to get the right guys in. But I think we hit our marks."