LAFC Star Diego Rossi might be the next big thing

SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 4: Diego Rossi
SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 4: Diego Rossi /

Diego Rossi has made a dream start to his MLS career with LAFC and has the chance to become the face of the league’s new movement. Here’s why he might just be the next big thing.

MLS has been going through a shift in recent seasons. Instead of targeting big-name European players who are at the tail ends of their careers, teams now look to South America to find youngsters who have the potential to become superstars. This has been branded a league-wide evolution, dubbed “MLS 3.0”.

Atlanta kicked the movement into high gear, spending big money on players like Miguel Almiron and Ezequiel Barco. Other teams have taken notice, with Orlando City signing Josué Colmán and the New York Red Bulls picking up Alejandro Romero. However, the pick of the bunch, at least on current form, has to be Los Angeles FC attacker Diego Rossi, who is set to become the face of MLS 3.0.

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Rossi was the 8th player to join LAFC, and the club’s second-ever Designated Player, joining Mexican international Carlos Vela. The attacker arrived from his native Uruguay after helping Peñarol secure the league title for a record 51st time. While at the Uruguayan giants, Rossi grabbed 13 goals in 47 matches, and scored for the club in the Copa Libertadores. He has also represented his country at youth level, playing for the countries U-21 team that won the South American Championship in 2017.

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He’s made a dream start to his MLS career, and is an early favorite for newcomer of the year. Rossi started the first game in the history of LAFC, away to the Seattle Sounders, and would end up grabbing the team’s first ever goal. Starting on the left wing, he linked up well with his teammates early on, threatening the Seattle defense with his movement. He wouldn’t have to wait long for his debut goal, scoring the opener in the 11th minute. It was a goal well worthy of the occasion, as Rossi ran onto a pass from Vela, opened up his hips, and curled his shot past Stefan Frei into the far corner. His second game would be even better, spearheading a LAFC attack that put five past Real Salt Lake. Rossi played a part in every goal, scoring twice, assisting once, and grabbing two secondary assists. It was a five-star performance, and Rossi was deservedly named Player of the Week.

The diminutive winger has everything you could want in an attacking player. He has great quality on the ball, and is rarely ever let down by a bad first touch, he has the vision to find an open teammate, and then also boasts the ability to pick out the right pass in any situation. Off the ball, Rossi might be even better.

His running is at an elite level. His forward darts are constant and unpredictable, with the player able to find space with either a straight or diagonal run, his speed and awareness make him a nightmare for defenders, and, most importantly, he has the composure in the final third to finish off any attacking move. He is a clinical finisher, proven by his curler from outside the box against Seattle and two well-taken goals against RSL, and also knows when to be unselfish, setting up Vela with a delightful through ball against Salt Lake. The fact that he only turned 20 at the start of the season means he will only continue to get better and better, which is a scary thing for opponents to realize.

Now, it is up to Rossi to prove his consistency. Many players have come to MLS and gotten off to a hot start early, only to tail off as they are slowly figured out. That especially applies to younger players, who have a hard time recovering from the gruelling travel schedule of the league.

The good news is fans will get plenty of chances to watch Rossi this season. The league has given LAFC plenty of games on national TV, with ESPN, FS1, and Univision each picking up a couple of fixtures. The team’s next game, against local rivals Los Angeles Galaxy, will be on cable channel FOX, allowing a number of soccer fans nationwide the ability to see what he is capable of. This added exposure will help Rossi grow in stature and popularity to no end.

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Sadly, most don’t expect Rossi to be in the league for long. Every young South American has dreams of playing in Europe, and the Uruguayan won’t be any different. When the time comes, and a big European team makes a bid for the player, LAFC will be able to make quite the profit off the transfer fee. Until then, MLS fans across the country should enjoy watching Rossi play while he is here. He might just be the next big thing.