LAFC is first in MLS with sleeve sponsorship deal

Newest Member of the Golden Boot Club

MIAMI, Fla. (October 15, 2019) —

Los Angeles Football Club has added a new corporate sponsor to its lineup. The club revealed that retail giant Target will join the exclusive Golden Boot Club beginning in January 2020, serving as the Official Retailer of LAFC. The multi-year partnership includes the Target logo prominently displayed on the left sleeve of LAFC’s primary and secondary shirts.

“This is another historic day for our Club as we welcome Target to the Black & Gold family,” said LAFC President and Owner Tom Penn. “Target is an innovative leader that shares our passion for culture, community and inclusivity. We’re proud to showcase Target on our jerseys and throughout the LAFC community.” 

“With a strong presence in the Los Angeles community, we’re thrilled to team up with the Los Angeles Football Club,” said William White, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Target. “We support soccer because we know how much our guests love this sport, and we’re excited to bring the bullseye to the jerseys of the Black & Gold.”

LAFC’s elite level of partnership is the Golden Boot Club, which provides exclusive access, visibility and experiences for its members. As the newest member of LAFC’s Golden Boot Club, Target joins Banc of California, Delta Air Lines/Aeromexico, Heineken, Kaiser Permanente, Toyota and YouTube TV.

The Target sleeve patch will also be present on shirts sold in retail.

Major League Soccer (MLS) announced approval of sponsored sleeve patch sales on team uniforms in October 2018. The new initiative is a multi-year pilot program, and available only to those clubs that have already secured a primary jersey sponsor.

The terms of the arrangement were not disclosed, but my research suggests said that MLS sleeve deals could be worth anywhere between US$500,000 and US$1 million per year. Given the success that LAFC has had, and their location in the nation’s No. 2 media market, it seems likely that the Target sleeve sponsorship will earn above the estimated range.

The size of the sponsored sleeve patch will be roughly the same size as the existing MLS logo on the right jersey sleeve, roughly 2.5 by 2.5 inches.

The deal comes at the close of LAFC’s second season, which saw them winners of the MLS Supporters Shield, and an upcoming game for the MLS’s Western Conference championship.

LAFC’s Carlos Vela chases down a ball during a match on April 13.
LAFC’s Carlos Vela chases down a ball during a match on April 13. Photographer: Harry How/Getty Images

Target is already heavily invested in MLS. The Minneapolis-based company is the main shirt partner for Minnestoa United FC. It is also a league partner.

In addition to the sleeve patch, Target will place its logo on digital signs around the team’s stadium. The company also has the right to brand a field-level suite where the club entertains VIP guests and celebrities.

Being the first to announce a sleeve partner was a goal for the team, according to Penn, who compared it to the team’s 2018 YouTubeTV deal, when it became the first major U.S. franchise to award its local TV rights to a streaming provider.

“We love being first,” said Penn, who is also an LAFC owner.

Data Analytics

LAFC studied data gathered by the club in order to help sell potential partners on the new ad space, including metrics such as the exposure its jersey had received in 2019 from live broadcasts, highlight videos, social-media posts and news coverage. For example, over the first six months of this season, the MLS patch on the other sleeve received 550 million impressions.

“Every time Carlos Vela does something dramatic and the goal footage goes global, it will have a Target mark right on the sleeve,” LAFC President Tom Penn said. “It’s easy to quantify the number of impressions and the extent of the exposure that the partner gets.”

Selling sleeve patches aligns MLS with prominent soccer leagues across the world, such as La Liga Santander and the English Premier League, where teams have both a main shirt sponsor and a second logo on the sleeve.

Image result for lafc
Aug 25, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; LAFC players pose for team photo prior to kickoff. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LAFC Background

Los Angeles Football Club became the second MLS club in Los Angeles, joining the Los Angeles Galaxy, after owners paid $110 million in 2014 to establish the team. It started play in 2018 and immediately became one of MLS’s most valuable franchises, according to Forbes.

LAFC is controlled by a trio of owners — Apollo Global Management senior partner Larry Berg, Ares Management co-founder Bennett Rosenthal and Riot Games Inc. co-founder Brandon Beck. Other investors include Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, who is also co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., actor Will Ferrell, soccer star Mia Hamm, and former Los Angeles Lakers player Earving “Magic” Johnson.

MLS: 2019 Secondary Transfer Window Updates, Part 2

Miami, Fla. (Thursday, July 11, 2019) –

Transfers, Transactions, and Reports for the second day of the MLS Secondary Transfer Window:

Toronto Football Club

Toronto FC has been active in preparing for MLS’ Secondary Transfer Window by announcing the signing of Zamora F.C. (Venezuela Primera División) winger Erickson Gallardo, via the use of Targeted Allocation Money. Gallardo, 22, will be eligible to play this weekend as the Reds take on the Impact de Montréal at Stade Saputo, a/k/a “Le Classique Canadien” for those in Québec, subject to receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (“ITC”).

After making his debut in 2014, Gallardo has made 116 combined appearances for Zamora F.C. In the past three seasons, he made a total of 91 appearances (64 starts) and recorded 10 goals and 19 assists. Gallardo was part of Zamora’s last three league championships in 2015, 2016 and 2018. In the second leg of the 2018 Apertura Final, he scored the winning goal.

“Erickson is a talented attacking player that will improve our team. He has good character and is excited to earn the respect of his teammates, meet our great fans, and he and his wife are looking forward to settling into the City of Toronto,” TFC General Manager Ali Curtis said. “He has speed, can shift directions quickly and can open up the game for himself and others. Mid-season can sometimes be challenging to step into a new team, particularly for young, international players. With that said, we’re excited to get him going because we believe he can make an impact now, and in the future.”

He won his only senior cap with the Venezuela National Team in a June friendly draw against Ecuador.

Back on June 3, TFC made another key move by also acquiring U.S. International defender Omar Gonzalez on a transfer from Atlas Fútbol Club (Guadalajara) of Liga MX.

Toronto used its first-place position in the allocation ranking to sign Gonzalez using TAM (Targeted Allocation Money), subject to Gonzalez passing a medical exam, as well as the receipt of his ITC. He will then be eligible for the roster on July 9 when the transfer window re-opens.

Gonzalez, 30, was in his first season with Atlas, having made 36 appearances with two goals since joining the squad in July 2018.

“Adding Omar will improve our team. He is a great competitor that will approach every training session and match with a high level of intensity. He’ll also be able to add a greater presence in the air for us, both offensively and defensively. And, while he has won numerous trophies during his career on the club and international level, he is hungry to be part of championship team in Toronto,” said Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis. “We were looking for a very specific profile of player. Omar’s a good guy. He will fit in well with the group, and he will be a welcome addition to the locker room and daily environment.”

Gonzalez began his professional career after being selected third overall by LA Galaxy in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. In seven seasons with the Galaxy, Gonzalez made 223 combined appearances (MLS, MLS Cup Playoffs, U.S. Open Cup, Concacaf Champions League) with 17 goals and 13 assists. With the Galaxy, he won three MLS Cups (2011, 2012, 2014), two MLS Supporters’ Shields (2010, 2011), was named to the MLS Best XI four times (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014) along with MLS Defender of the Year (2011) and MLS Rookie of the Year (2009).

In December 2015, Gonzalez was sold and signed with C.F. Pachuca (Pachuca) of Liga MX. While with Pachuca, he made 87 combined appearances with three goals and four assists. Gonzalez won three trophies with Pachuca including, the Clausura Liga MX championship (2016), 2016 Liga MX championship and the 2016-17 Concacaf Champions League.

Gonzalez has earned 49 caps for the U.S. Men’s National team. He was part of the U.S. 2013 and 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup winning sides; and the roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. His most recent cap came on March 27, 2019 in a 1-1 friendly match against Chile. Gonzalez was recently on the U.S. squad for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

“Greg gave me a clear picture of what the team is like, where he sees the team going and where I can fit into that picture. He sold me on coming here,” said Gonzalez. “Wherever you want me to play, I’ll do it. I’ll play my role; team comes first. On the left, on the right, it doesn’t matter. I’ve got to step up; do what I’ve got to do to help the team get wins.”

The addition of Gallardo, as well as defender Omar Gonzalez (who signed with TFC on June 3), gives Manager Greg Vanney the type of players that were much-needed – a pure winger and a big defender.

New England Revolution

Longtime dormant in the transfer marketplace, the decision to hire Bruce Arena as the sporting director and head coach in May came with it a pledge that he would have the latitude to invest in the roster. A veteran coach of Arena’s caliber would certainly not be interested in taking the job and continuing the club’s low-budget, penny-pinching (aka cheap) mentality.

That pledge turned into reality Wednesday, as the Revs announced the signing of Gustavo Bou as a Designated Player from Club Tijuana of Liga MX. It is reported that New England has paid a club-record transfer fee ($6-7 million USD) to acquire the Argentine striker.

The forward, who is nicknamed ‘La Pantera’, was the most expensive signing in the ten-year history of the Xolos. His professional career spans 12 seasons in the first divisions of Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico. He has scored 85 goals with River Plate, Olimpo de Bahía Blanca, Liga de Quito, Gimnasia de La Plata, Racing Club y Xolos de Tijuana.

“He’s an experienced player,” said Arena. “He’s going to help generate attacking chances for us – whether that’s scoring goals or setting goals up or moving in the right spots to help others. He’s a player with a lot of experience, a lot of quality, and a real good track record.”

Bou, 29 years old, brings knowledge and vast on-field experience to the Revolution squad. His reputation is that of a creative player who has demonstrated an ability to play across the attacking front four, but who is most comfortable on the left wing. “In a pinch he can play the number nine position – which he’s really not natural – and he can play the 10, he can play the seven, the 11,” said Arena. “He can play a bunch of spots. Positions close to goal is where he needs to play.”

Bou has been in form recently, with seven goals and two assists in his final six games with Tijuana, and has scored at least once in all six of those contests. He ranked in the top five league-wide in both goals (10) and assists (five) in Liga MX’s 2019 Torneo Clausura.

Bou will be available for the Revolution pending completion of his medical exam, and receipt of a P-1 Visa and his ITC.

Related: El delantero argentino Gustavo Bou dejó al Xolos de México y jugará en la MLS

Atlanta United FC

Atlanta United made their sixth Homegrown Signing in club history on Tuesday, announcing that 18-year-old defender George Campbell has been signed to a homegrown contract, effective January 1, 2020. Born in Chester, PA, Campbell joined the Atlanta United academy in 2016-17.

“George has shown remarkable progress at each step in his development and he’s earned a professional contract with our club,” Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. “As a member of our inaugural Academy teams in 2016, he’s worked hard to utilize the club’s pathway to the professional level, highlighted by his form in USL this season – most of which came before his 18th birthday.”

He’s spent a majority of the 2019 season with USL affiliate Atlanta United II, where he has 11 appearances. Campbell was named Man of the Match on his professional debut back in March, and has been one of the team’s top performers defensively.


Rumoured Transfers:

Sporting Kansas City

Report: Sporting KC linked with Portuguese wing back Luis Martins

Sporting KC is hoping to make a few moves during the secondary transfer window and reportedly has been linked in serious discussions with one player so far.

According to the Kansas City Star, SKC is interested in Portuguese left back Luis Martins..

Martins was most recently with Portuguese side Chaves, where he joined in 2018. Chaves struggled in Liga NOS (Primeira Liga), Portugal’s top division, finishing in 16th place on 32 points and were relegated to the second division. Martins played in 15 of Chaves’ 34 league games, scoring one goal and playing another six games in Taça do Portugal competitions for Chaves this year. With their relegation this year, Martins and Chaves mutually agreed to terminate his contract with the club, effective June 30, 2019, which makes Martins available for Kansas City to sign on a free transfer.

Martin has also spent time with Benfica and Gil Vicente in Portugal and Spanish side Granada CF while appearing for Osasuna and Maritimo on-loans.

His arrival to SKC would give Peter Vermes another option in defense as the team is without several players due to injury. The club is recently coming off a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday.

In order to sign Martins, Sporting Kansas City would need to acquire an international roster spot, which they can do via a trade with another MLS club.

Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami

It was previously reported here that Inter Miami CF have been linked with two Argentine players, Julián Carranza and Matías Pellegrini, and that deals to transfer these two players have been reached. While there is no word from Inter yet, based on what has been said about the timing of the first player announcement, we should hear something during this secondary transfer window.

Any players who are transferring to Miami during this window would likely be loaned out until the end of the year. (If the reports about Carranza and Pellegrini are correct, those players could be loaned back to their clubs in Argentina or elsewhere for the fall. As an aside, the Superliga Argentina will have a new format for 2019-20 , with 24 teams playing a 23-week season starting in July 2019 and ending in December. The second half of the year, January to May, will be set aside for the Copa de la Superliga.

“We’ll definitely have players signed by the summer,” Sporting Director Paul McDonough said, without getting into further details or a more specific timeline for their first player. “I want to make it a surprise.”


Outbound Transfer

Los Angeles Football Club

Defender Niko Hämäläinen returns to Queens Park Rangers

Finnish-American fullback Niko Hämäläinen has left Los Angeles Football Club due to the conclusion of his loan with the MLS club.

Hämäläinen was loaned by the London-based English Championship (2nd Division) club in February 2019 on a six month term. His loan was not extended by LAFC. During his time in the City of the Angels, the 22-year-old made three appearances, including one start.

“We would like to thank Niko for his contributions to our Club during the first half of the season, and wish him great success moving forward,” said EVP & General Manager John Thorrington.

A former member of the FC Dallas academy, Hämäläinen joined Queens Park back in 2014 but has only made three league appearances for the club to date. QPR had also previously loaned Hämäläinen to Dagenham & Redbridge on a short-term loan in 2015..