Diego Rossi’s path to Europe still paved with LAFC success
Diego rossi is in motion. Only, he does not go as far as he had hoped.
When Rossi left Uruguay for sign with LAFC, then an expanding MLS club, it was meant to be the first step on the path to a major football club in Europe. Three years later, it is still there.
So this month, he and his wife, Vivian, are moving to a location a little closer to the office, which in Rossi’s case is Bench of California Stadium, not England. If you think it made him bitter then you don’t know Diego Rossi.
“More than anything, I want to improve and help the team to keep improving as well,” he said in Spanish. “I don’t think so much about individual things.
“But obviously that’s a goal I’ve had since I was a kid.”
A goal that no doubt came closer during a checkered 2020 season in which Rossi became the youngest scorer in MLS history while leading his team to the playoffs, only to miss the playoffs after testing positive for COVID-19. Still, in good times and bad, Rossi has refused to draw attention to himself, preferring to remain anonymous rather than acknowledged.
“What we love about Diego and our players is that they care more about team success than individual success,” said LAFC Executive Director John Thorrington, who signed Rossi. “Every great team has a bunch of guys who let go of their selfish ambition for team service and team goals. Diego is definitely one of those guys.
For LAFC, Rossi’s selflessness could be a more important weapon than his powerful right foot, which has helped him score 42 goals in three seasons.
When Rossi learned that MLS was limiting the number of international players a team could carry, he got a green card to make the roster more flexible. When captain Carlos Vela, the league’s top scorer in 2019, decided not to make it to last summer’s MLS Is Back tournament, Rossi not only took the armband but also led the tournament with six goals.
And when Vela tore the medial collateral ligament of his left knee in his first comeback, Rossi continued to score, ending the regular season with a record 14 goals, making him and Vela the first teammates to lead MLS in goals. in consecutive seasons.
Rossi, 23, deflects praise the same way good goalkeepers deflect shots. So when he won the Golden Boot last season, he thanked his teammates.
This humility could ultimately hurt Rossi in his quest to follow former teammate Brian Rodríguez to Europe. Rodríguez, who played alongside Rossi on the LAFC frontline and with him in the Uruguay national team, performed well enough that Almeria, in the Spanish second division, loaned it this winter. Because to truly appreciate Rossi’s contributions, you have to look at more than the scores in the box.
Vela, who has played 12 seasons in Europe, said one of his goals this year will be to raise Rossi’s profile in the hopes of attracting a European contender.
“Diego and I have a great relationship,” Vela said. “He’s young, so I feel like I have to lead the way. My mind is like, Diego has to go to Europe.
“I try to teach him a lot of things. “You are doing well, you are a good player. But come on, you can be better and you’ve got to go to Europe and show you’re good there. ”
Thorrington, who started his professional career in England, believes Rossi could be good enough already.
“As a talent assessor, if the indirect question is: ‘Is Diego good enough to play at the highest level in Europe? “My answer to that is absolutely,” he said.
Rossi says that with Vela’s return he’s only too happy to resume his role as a staunch sidekick, even if that means fewer shots and fewer goals.
“Everyone’s going to shoot when they get the chance,” said Rossi, who started an 82-game franchise record for LAFC. “We play as a team and we create chances, and when we have one, he can shoot.”
Son of a father of Italian origin and a mother of Armenian origin, Rossi was born in Montevideo, the largest city of Uruguay, where he started playing football at the Solymar sports center at the age of 6 years.
He soon caught the attention of Peñarol, the most successful team in the country, who invited him to play in his academy at the age of 11. By the time he made his first-team debut at the age of 17, he had already played more than 60 games with the young Uruguayan national teams.
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After scoring 12 times in three seasons at Peñarol, Rossi signed with LAFC and scored the team’s first goal on the eve of his 20th birthday. If it was his exit party, last season was Rossi’s crowning glory – although it didn’t end as he hoped. He missed LAFC first round playoff loss after testing positive for COVID-19 while on international duty, he then saw his second-half goal erased in the final 18 minutes of a 2-1 loss to the Mexican Tigers in the CONCACAF Champions League final.
“It left a bit of a bitter taste, but these are things that happen in football,” he said.
That taste quickly faded, Rossi said, because he has neither the time nor the energy to look back. He therefore approaches this season with a new home, a former teammate and the same goal of finding his way to Europe.
“I always try to see the positive side of things,” he said. “I never stopped for long to think about negative things because there is nothing you can do about it. Instead, I think of the beautiful things that can come.