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Los Angeles FC's Carlos Vela: 'I want to be an important player'

Los Angeles FC's Carlos Vela: 'I want to be an important player'
From ESPN - August 11, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Vela was intrigued and surprised when Los Angeles Football Club approached him several weeks ago to join an MLS expansion franchise that does not have a uniform, a completed stadium or any other players.

"It's crazy and it's strange," Vela said. "It's like, 'OK, I can play alone if you want.' I am the first. You feel like they are building the team around you. I feel cool, you know?"

Vela will have to get used to feeling strange and cool as he embarks on this unique journey with LAFC.

For instance, during his introductory news conference Friday, the Mexico international winger received a T-shirt with his name on it from LAFC co-owner Will Ferrell while standing under the Space Shuttle Endeavour inside the California Science Center, just across the park from LAFC's under-construction arena, which will be ready in March.

The 28-year-old Vela is now the centerpiece of a franchise with only one player so far, but deep pockets and global ambition.

Welcome, @11carlosV.#veLA pic.twitter.com/bU0gZ1v8eO

- LAFC (@LAFC) August 11, 2017

The charismatic speedster brings a scoring acumen honed over the last six years at La Liga's Real Sociedad. He will stay with that San Sebastian club through January before moving stateside.

"I think it was the right moment to come here, because the ambition of this team is very good," Vela said. "The people make me feel like this is my club, like I am important, and I want to be an important player. I hope I can be one of the best players in the league."

While Vela is taking a financially rewarding leap of faith, LAFC coach Bob Bradley is eager to build a team with Vela as its foundation.

"It's a statement that reaffirms what the club is all about -- the values, the connection with the city," said Bradley, who joined the franchise two weeks ago. "And it's a statement about what we want our football to be like, because when you have a player like Carlos who's capable of scoring great goals, of setting up great goals -- a player that when he has the ball at his feet, the stadium rises because you know good things will happen -- this is what we want to be about."

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