LAFC adds another star to their first place roster
July 14, 2022
LAFC formally introduced star winger Gareth Bale of Wales as its newest member to a very packed media audience at Banc of California Stadium last Monday afternoon. The announcement comes as the 5th-year MLS club is enjoying its finest season since winning the Supporters' Shield in 2019. Along with the addition of Italian star defender Giorgio Chiellini introduced a few weeks ago, the Black & Gold are now odds on favor to win this season's MLS Cup.
"After speaking with John (Thorrington) and Larry (Berg), it became very clear to me that this was the place that I wanted to be at," said Bale in his opening remarks. "They have created an amazing environment for the fans, for everything around what you see is incredible, and yeah, hopefully now I can play my part and take this club hopefully to the next level and try to win a trophy."
LAFC announcer Max Bretos conducted the media event that included multiple international publications drawn by the Bale's impressive resume and more importantly his football (soccer) skills. His accolades include winning 19 trophies while scoring 106 goals and 67 assists in 258 appearances with Real Madrid. Just last month, Bale was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth of England for services to football and charity.
"Being able to bring a player, and more importantly a person of Gareth's caliber to LAFC is not only historic moment for Los Angeles and MLS, but for the sport in the United States," declared Larry Berg, LAFC Lead Managing Owner.
Co-President and General Manager, John Thorrington, added: "When it comes to Gareth I do not need to speak of his resumé... What I will tell you is that in conversation it became very clear, abundantly clear, that Gareth shared LAFC's ambition to win trophies."
Bale enjoyed a memorable reception during last Friday night's barnstorming 3-2 LAFC victory over the L.A. Galaxy in 'El Trafico 16'. The 3252 Supporters Union was in full force at the Banc of California Stadium that evening, which left an indelible impression on Bale: "I was just excited to get out here. Excited to get to the stadium and watch the fans I obviously saw on TV. I've seen videos of how incredible they are, and it doesn't do justice how good they actually are in the stadium."
Bale continued to say, "I had a great reception on the pitch after the game as well which was a good initiation. Yeah, I'm excited. I'm looking forward to playing with them all. Hopefully I can help improve the team as well."
The most subtly encouraging statement for LAFC's faithful concerned Bale's thoughts on his one-year contract with options through 2024: "I still have many years to come. I haven't come here just to for six months, or 12 months. I've come to try to be here as long as possible. I want to do as well as I can and make my mark on this league, on this team.
"My plan is to really work hard. It's a great physical team, medical staff, performance traffic at the training ground, and yeah, we've got a great plan going forward to get me up to speed and hopefully last as long as possible."
Bale mentioned that he'd played against Chiellini many times in Europe and that Chiellini was "a great player, a great professional, a great ambassador for the game. I think he's the same as me. He wants to give everything possible to try and win games, trophies, and I am looking forward to playing with him as well."
LAFC's next match is on the road this Sunday, July 17, at 5:30 p.m. PT against Nashville SC at GEODIS Park. The Black & Gold, with a 12-4-3 record (39 points), are currently in second place in the Western Conference, one point behind Austin FC (12-4-4, 40 points) but with one less match played. Nashville (8-6-6) is in third place with 30 points. The third-year MLS club has enjoyed success from the start, posting a combined 20-11-26 record in its first two seasons.
Nashville beat the Seattle Sounders,1-0, at home on Wednesday night, July 13. Midfielder Hany Muktar scored the game's only goal in the 44th minute. Muktar leads the team in scoring with 11 goals, including five assists, in 20 games. Muktar also led Nashville in scoring the first two seasons, scoring five goals in 2020 and 19 goals in 2021. Remarkably, this will be the first match ever between the two MLS clubs. Nashville will visit LAFC at the Banc for the last match of the 2022 regular season in October.
Last Tuesday, LAFC announced that team captain and star forward Carlos Vela, midfielder Ilie Sanchez, and defender Diego Palacios were named to the 2022 MLS All-star team. The MLS All-Stars will take on the best of LIGA MX (August 10, 8:30 p.m. PT) for the second consecutive season.
Vela, who has six goals and eight assists this season, will be making his fourth All-Star game appearance. He owns the MLS single season scoring record with 34 goals in 2019 and has scored 64 goals and 37 assists in all matches with LAFC. Vela captained the MLS All-Star team against 2017-18 Serie A champions Juventus and Atletico Madrid in 2019.
Sanchez leads LAFC in minutes (1,587), completed passes (797) and interceptions (31) this season. He has earned MLS Team of The Week honors three times this season. Sanchez will be making his second All-Star appearance. His first was in 2018 with Sporting Kansas City,
This will be the MLS All-Star debut for Palacios, who first started playing in the backfield with LAFC during their record breakingseason in 2019. Palacios has one goal (his first MLS goal) and three assists this season and leads LAFC defenders in interceptions with 27. He has earned MLS Team of the Week honors twice this season.