A Spectacular Week for Los Angeles Football Club
LAFC Introduces Italian Superstar Giorgio Chiellini
June 30, 2022
La dolce vita arrives in Los Angeles. LAFC's 3-1 resolute victory over visiting FC Dallas on Wednesday night, June 29, capped off the most groundbreaking week in the club's five-year history. Off the field, Los Angeles Football Club became the talk of the soccer world with three significant signings, each one worthy of front-page status.
The remarkable sequence kicked off this past Sunday at Banc of California Stadium, beginning with a 2-0 sweltering high-noon showdown win over the New York Red Bulls. On Monday, the club announced the signing of world-class Welsh winger Gareth Bale to a 12-month contract. On Tuesday, LAFC re-signed their heart and soul star forward Carlos Vela through the 2023 season. On Wednesday afternoon the crescendo was amplified when legendary defender Giorgio Chiellini of Italy was introduced as the club's newest player.
"From the first time I started to talk with Will (Kuntz, LAFC Assistant GM) and John (Thorrington, LAFC Co-President & GM) I'm fully convinced of this club, that this club is perfect for me. I start to understand the organization behind the club and they really want me... I am really happy and proud to be here," responded Chiellini to a packed room at the Banc.
When LAFC originally announced Chiellini's signing on June 13 Thorrington commented: "Giorgio is a special, one-of-a-kind player and person. Signing Giorgio was a unique opportunity to improve our club. He will complement what we believe is already a strong team as every day he will set the right example with his leadership competitiveness, and experience." He double-downed during Wednesday's introduction: "He is a coach's dream. He is a club's dream. We have never seen a player like him in our league."
Chiellini, who played in Italy's Serie A for 17 seasons with perennial champion Juventus, help the club win nine consecutive titles from 2011-2020. He also won Serie A's Defender of the Year for three consecutive seasons, 2008-2010, made 117 appearances for the Italian National team, and captained Italy to the 2020 European Championship. Chiellini started in 410 of 430 Serie A appearances while logging 36,284 minutes on the pitch.
LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo added: "Giorgio's experience will be invaluable to us. He is one of the top defenders to ever play. He brings a deep knowledge of the game and an ability to have an impact on our young players both on and off the field. His addition is the perfect supplement to the work we are doing every day."
Chiellini further assessed: "Surely it's impossible for me to have the same physical characteristics like 10 years ago, but I can bring also something to them... We have to create a good mix with experience, with enthusiasm, with younger players in order to become a winning group.
Coincidentally, Chiellini will be first eligible to play on Friday night, July 8, at the Banc against crosstown rival L.A. Galaxy, the 16th chapter of "El Trafico." LAFC has one match prior to the Los Angeles derby when they travel to take on the Whitecaps this Saturday, July 2, 7:00 p.m. at the 54,500-seat BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver is mired in 11th place with 21 points.
Adding Chiellini and Bale to roster along with securing Vela through next season will further compound any opponent's growing concerns in dealing with a resurgent LAFC, who won the MLS Supporters' Shield for having the league's best record in 2019. "Carlos has been an integral piece of LAFC's success on and off the field since the beginning," said Thorrington about Vela, first-ever signed player by the club in 2018.
Carlos has proved that he is one of the top players this league has ever seen, and we are thrilled to have him continue to lead our Club as we attempt to win more trophies this season and beyond."
Thorrington was equally impressed with Bale: "Gareth is one of the most dynamic and exciting players of his generation. Adding a player who brings his talent and experience at the highest levels is an incredible opportunity to improve our Club.
The Black & Gold is currently leading the Supporters' Shield race as well as the MLS Western Conference lead with 36 points after 17 matches, the halfway point of the regular season.
The club improved its home record to 7-1-2 and boasts the league's best road record at 4-2-1.
Inspired by the team's form during the first half of this season under first-year head coach Cherundolo, and recent high-level siginings, the 3252 LAFC Independent Supporters Union elevated their infectious mantras even further to help drown FC Dallas on Wednesday night.
The post-victory celebration ended on a dream note before the still jubilant supporters in the north end section of the Banc. Chiellini joined his new teammates on the pitch in singing the LAFC feverish chant song 'LA Forever More' while initiating and drenching him with water bottle showers. "Sha la la la la la la... L-A-F-C!" never sounded or tasted so sweet drifting into the warm L.A. summer night.