On Tuesday 12th December, LAFC selected five players in the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft as they fleshed out more spots in preparation for their inaugural campaign in 2018. Here are the five players selected:
Name: Tyler Miller
Drafted From: Seattle Sounders
A goalkeeper and no mistake, considering that Tyler stands six-foot-four inches tall and has hands the size of frying pans. Miller was the backup goalkeeper for MLS Cup runners-up Seattle Sounders for the past two seasons behind the impressive Stefan Frei. The 24-year-old made two regular season appearances with the club and added another one in the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, starting the first leg against the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference Championship.
Name: Latif Blessing
Drafted From: Sporting Kansas City
Latif Blessing is a diminutive, rapid attacking winger/forward who joined Sporting Kansas City prior to the 2017 season. Previous to this he was 2016 Ghana Premier League player of the year, scoring 17 goals, and finalist for the 2016 Ghanaian FA Cup Most Valuable Player award. The Ghanaian scored three goals during the regular season for Sporting, and added three more in U.S. Open Cup play as he helped his club win the trophy. He has received his green card meaning he will not occupy an international roster slot for LAFC.
Name: Marco Ureña
Drafted From: San Jose Earthquakes
Costa Rican Marco Ureña, became drew the ire of USA fans after he scored both goals in Costa Rica’s 2-0 vicory over the US in Hexagonal Qualifying last September. The 27-year-old forward scored five goals for the Earthquakes in 2017, including the goal that sent the Quakes through to the playoffs on Decision Day.
Name: Jukka Raitala
Drafted From: Columbus Crew
Versatile defender Raitala hails from Finland and only joined Columbus Crew prior to the 2017 campaign. He can play right across the back line, which makes him a valuable commodity. He made 28 appearances for the Black & Gold and has 39 international caps to his name.
Name: Raheem Edwards
Position: Left back/left wing
Drafted From: Toronto FC
Raheem Edwards boasts two Trillium Cups, two Canadian Championships, a Supporters Shield and an MLS Cup in his trophy haul from his time spent with Toronto FC. Edwards made his debut for the Canadian national team against Curaçao in June 2017 and was subsequently named in Canada’s 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup squad.
Following the draft, both Raheem Edwards and Jukka Raitala were immediately traded to Montreal Impact in return for Belgian international defender Laurent Ciman.
Ciman signed for the Impact in 2015 after nearly five seasons with Belgian giants Standard Liege. He was named MLS Defender of the Year in his first season in addition to being selected for the 2016 MLS All-Star Game. His performances earned him a spot in Belgium’s Euro 2016 side.
LAFC’s defence now boasts Ciman, former FC Dallas centre back Walker Zimmerman and goalkeeper Tyler Miller, who was drafted from MLS Cup runners-up Seattle Sounders.