LOS ANGELES — On his way to Montevideo to pitch Brian Rodriguez, who LAFC targeted to fill the recently vacated Designated Player spot, general manager John Thorrington opened the same presentation deck he showed Diego Rossi less than two years earlier.
All the Banc of California Stadium renderings lit up the screen. There were slides about what the club would be, how their training facility would look, what sort of style they planned to employ. It was all an imagined future for a club ahead of their debut season.
“I mean our renderings were really good, but now were showing how the team plays, were showing our environment, the training facility, the stadium, all of that,” Thorrington said before LAFC faced the New York Red Bulls Sunday night.
Looking at the deck he showed Rossi ahead of his meeting with another young Uruguayan product at Peñarol, Thorrington knew he had so much more to show this time around.
“It was a really cool moment of perspective for me to go back down — same place, same club, same age of player, and how far we have come in that short period of time.”
Thorrington said Rodriguez was the first name on the list once midfielder Andre Horta returned to his native Portugal this summer.
Despite being heavily linked to major European clubs, Rodriguez was swayed by Thorrington’s pitch, signing with the club August 7. He did some light training on Banc of California’s pitch Sunday, calling the stadium “spectacular.”
“I’ve watch the club and their great players,” said the 19-year-old attacker, who was unveiled to the press before Sunday’s match. “I want to play with them and do big things and share those moments.”
Rodriguez, who was familiar with Rossi before the move to LAFC, spoke about how the MLS-All Star selection helped his adaptation to the new city, new country, and new club.
“There were other opportunities in other countries, but this is a great opportunity, the club is fantastic, the city is fantastic, and the style of play,” he said.
When asked whether Rossi’s success thus far at LAFC — and that of other South American players in MLS — made the move for a promising young talent at Peñarol easier this time around, Thorrington admitted the deal wasn’t exactly simple, but it was better than his first few trips south.
“It’s eye opening to people,” Thorrington said. “I do think MLS has grown and it’s by no means just us, but I am selling LAFC to people and I think clubs that have come before us and clubs that are continuing to develop, the perception of MLS globally now is very, very different where now there are players with big European clubs after them that are choosing to come here.”
Thorrington, who gave credit to LAFC’s scouts, the technical staff, and the owners in helping the deal get across the line, also explained LAFC’s current place in the league meant the deal never felt rushed or forced, but it was the right move at the right time. He also confirmed they see Rodriguez as being able to contribute both this season as well as the future.
“I feel good,” said Rodriguez summing up his first few days in Los Angeles. “It’s fantastic to be here.”