Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (September 3, 2021) US soccer player – This is an end to LAFC. Anyway, an end. Half of the attacking duo that burned Major League Soccer is gone. The club announced that Diego Rossi was joining Fenerbahce from the Turkish SuperLig on loan before the summer transfer window expired.

“It’s an exciting day for LAFC, it’s the fulfillment of a plan and a vision from day one,” said LAFC President John Thorrington. “To identify young talent, develop those young talent and nurture them in a way that is beneficial to both the player and the club. It has not escaped us that Diego was the first player to be part of that vision. It was signed with exactly this plan in mind. “

What it also represents is a great test for the essentially still young club.

Rossi’s departure from Los Angeles was inevitable when he arrived in his native Uruguay from Penarol. LAFC’s move to the South American player market mirrored that of Atlanta, who arrived at the MLS a year earlier and caused a sensation with new signings such as Paraguayan striker Miguel Almiron.

Full of ambition and money, the LAFC leadership became aggressive from the start. Mexico star Carlos Vela became the club’s first signing. Adding Rossi felt like a shot across the bow for the rest of the MLS. Rossi neither had the name Vela, nor was he back in one of the top competitions in Europe, but his potential was immense.

LAFC bought Rossi’s rights to win an MLS Cup ASAP. With the league getting more involved in the business of buying and selling players, LAFC had a different goal than Rossi grabbed: make money.

Rossi’s time in MLS was equally divided into helping the LAFC win and develop as a player. That would eventually attract the attention of rich clubs in Europe. That’s what happened. It’s fair to say that Rossi has been the league’s most talked about potential sale over the past few seasons.

With that conversation came a healthy price. Rossi fell into the same category as Almiron when the numbers came up. The guess was that the LAFC would benefit from its starlet a year or two after his MLS career. Rossi’s output fueled the hype.

In his and LAFC’s first season in the MLS, Rossi scored a dozen goals, Vela added 14. Bucking the usual trend, the LAFC qualified as an expansion team for the Western Conference playoffs before losing to Real Salt Lake in the first round.

The disappointment of 2018 only increased the desire for success. In 2019, the LAFC set or set records for points and goals in the regular season, playing some of the best football games the league had ever seen. Individually, Rossi flourished and increased his score to 16.

Interest in Rossi soared that summer. Rumors linked him to big deals, but LAFC never took a step. Instead, Rossi stayed. Last season that was an opportunity to show what he can do without Vela.

Rossi’s seven goals at MLS Is Back (five in the group stage and two in the knockout round) set the stage for a golden shoe in the shortened 2020 season. At the moment, his star was on the rise again. When Vela returned to the team after moving the MLS to the home stadiums, the duo reunited.

Unfortunately for the LAFC, Rossi missed the playoff rematch with the Sounders in the first round due to injury. Because of the pandemic, Rossi was back with Vela for the Concacaf Champions League tournament that was being played in Orlando. They came close to a continental title, though the notion that 2021 would bring the club more success was comforting.

That didn’t happen. When September comes the LAFC is out looking for the playoffs. Vela is injured. While Brian Rodriguez took a step forward in a rivalry game with a sovereign performance against the Galaxy, the best LAFC could do was a draw. There is a lot to do to get back to the top of the MLS. This work only gets tougher with Rossi’s departure.

LAFC seems confident that Fenerbahce will exercise the option to purchase for an undisclosed fee. You have already started your search for a Designated Player to replace Rossi.

This is a crucial moment for LAFC. Vela’s contract expires at the end of the season. There is always the possibility that he will not agree to a new deal. Getting the next signature right might play a role in keeping the marquee player in town. The measure of a club is its ability to cope with these transitional moments.

It is now up to the LAFC to show how this works for them. They always knew that Rossi’s departure was part of the plan. That time is now. It also has to be a fresh start for LAFC.

Jason Davis is the founder of MatchFitUSA.com and the host of The United States of Soccer on SiriusXM. Contact him: matchfitusa@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Photo by Michael Janosz – ISIPhotos.com