Goal vs. USA caps strong start to senior international career for LAFC's Rodriguez

ST. LOUIS – What was bad news for the US national team on Tuesday night was great news for LAFC.

Brian Rodriguez, signed by the club as a Designated Player on Aug. 7, scored in Uruguay’s 1-1 draw with the USMNT, completed 13 of 17 passes and demonstrated the 1v1 skills that have made him one of South America’s top young prospects.

Coupled with a solid outing in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over Costa Rica on Friday, his full senior debut, the performance staked the 19-year-old winger’s claim as a rising star for his country, and as a force to be reckoned with for LAFC.

Oscar Tabarez, La Celeste’s head coach since 2006, is credited for developing the system that has produced waves of outstanding Uruguayan players. Tabarez has not anointed Rodriguez as the next in that line quite yet, but said that “over these two games, Brian played very well. Nothing is guaranteed, but there comes motivation with being called up to the national team. He showed his potential.”

Tuesday’s goal was a prime example. Racing forward on the counterattack, Rodriguez took on US defender Aaron Long at the top of the penalty area. Rodriguez dribbled to his right, fooled Long with a feint, then cut the ball back to his left and “absolutely smashed it,” USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. The shot found the top far corner in the 50th minute.

“The goal was the perfect finish to my debut [with the national team],” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez earned his first call-up following an outstanding run in this summer’s U-20 World Cup. He scored two goals and had an assist in Uruguay’s four games at the tournament, and he has six goals in 19 appearances across Uruguay’s youth national teams. He played with Peñarol in Uruguay’s first division before signing with LAFC.

“I’m really content with how everything went in my first call-up with the national team,” Rodriguez said.

His showing with Uruguay’s senior squad points to greater possibilities for Rodriguez as he returns to LAFC, who visit Philadelphia Saturday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada).

“It’s been a big challenge me moving from Uruguay to MLS,” Rodriguez said. He has started one game with LAFC and has appeared as a substitute in another since his arrival via a reported multi-million transfer fee last month.

Rodriguez is one of “a lot of our players who aren’t playing in starting positions with their clubs,” Tabarez said. “They are leaving this game with a base of things to work with.”

Which bodes well for Rodriguez and LAFC.