LAFC and the future of Brain Rodriguez
Through Luis Bueno – RIVERSIDE, CA (Jul 14, 2021) American Soccer Players – For any MLS club, the chance to land a 21-year-old attacking player fresh out of a major international tournament who spent the previous season in Europe seems like a major victory. A player like this should add quality to the squad, making them more dangerous in the future. LAFC could use such a player, especially on the offensive side. It’s exactly that kind of talent that could land at Banc of California Stadium, albeit under interesting circumstances.
Brain Rodriguez could join LAFC this summer after spending the first half of 2021 on loan at Spain’s UD Almeria team. Rodriguez, who was with Uruguay for the Copa America, saw his loan deal ended bluntly in May with a fine and a clash with an Almeria teammate.
A return to Los Angeles seems possible, but it is not inevitable. LAFC coach Bob Bradley said last month he would welcome Rodriguez again if the club fail to strike a deal that makes sense to both sides. Returning to LAFC then seems to be the backup plan. Rodriguez himself has said he is aiming for a potential Uruguay comeback.
When he joined LAFC, Rodriguez’s profile seemed too good to be true. At 19, he had transitioned from the Uruguayan national under-20 team to the senior team, playing important games with los Charruas. After joining LAFC, he was still called up in Uruguay, even against his LAFC teammate Diego Rossi, despite Rossi’s outstanding club outing.
Rodriguez turned two goals and seven assists in 26 regular season MLS games into European interest. He granted the loan to the candidate for promotion UD Almeria over the winter. Rodriguez ended up starting four games and coming off the bench for ten more. Almeria finished fourth, coming out in the promotion playoffs in 3rd place from Girona.
The end of the season for Rodriguez has become his own problem. First, he spoke to Uruguayan TV station Teledoce in mid-May, which was a violation of team rules. During this interview, he said his representative was in talks with Uruguayan club Penarol over a possible return to Montevideo despite one club (LAFC) holding his rights and another club (UD Almeria) paying for the use for this season.
Then Rodriguez and his teammate Umar Sadiq argued over the execution of a free kick in a league game. Rodiguez went to take it, but Sadiq snatched the ball from Rodriguez’s hands. His teammates had to restrain Rodriguez as he tried to face Sadiq. After the game Rodriguez took off his jersey and again attempted to face Sadiq as his teammates separated them again. The tiff continued in the locker room. Almeria coach Joan Francesc Rubi told reporters the near fight was a “sin of youth” and promised club supporters it would not happen again.
Rubi left Rodriguez out of the squad roster for the next game. The club also fined Rodriguez for his interview and he no longer played for the club before joining Uruguay for international service.
With Uruguay in the World Cup and Copa America qualifiers, Rodriguez will play seven minutes in the June 3 qualifying game against Paraguay. Now his future seems to be on hold. If what Rodriguez said in his mid-May TV interview is correct, then there appears to be interest from his former club Penarol. This decision might be the best for Rodriguez, but the question of whether Penarol officials are willing to pay for him is the question that LAFC reportedly spent $ 12 million to land Rodriguez in 2019.
Considering LAFC’s offensive issues, they could use Rodriguez’s help. LAFC has struggled this season, but the club have returned to contention. They are in 5th place in the Western Conference with a 5-4-3 record, but have only scored 15 goals in a dozen games. Sporting KC lead the Western Conference with 24 goals. Five other conference opponents have scored more goals than LAFC.
This could be the most likely move. Active on social media, Rodriguez updated his Instagram profile to say he’s back in Los Angeles and part of LAFC. Suppose he can play with the same energy that put him on LAFC’s radar and possibly their roster. In this case, it could be the equivalent of a designated player’s mid-season pickup without any additional expense. This is something any MLS team would accept without hesitation.
Luis Bueno is a veteran soccer writer. Follow him on twitter @BuenoSoccer.
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