Marquee Midfielder: Vancouver FC Signs Liga MX Veteran Gael Sandoval
Canadian Premier League side Vancouver FC has landed a big fish with Liga MX veteran Gael Sandoval, a winger arrives to Canada’s top flight after making some 119 appearances in Mexico’s premier division.
The 27-year-old has played for the likes of Santos Laguna, FC Juarez, Club Deportivo Guadalajara (Chivas) and Mazatlan FC, having most recently suited up for second division side Tepatitlan FC.
Touting him as the most exciting signing in Vancouver FC’s young history, head coach Afshin Ghotbi says that Sandoval brings a high level of pedigree and tradition from his time in Mexico’s top flight.
“Gael’s creativity, combined with his football IQ, will influence games, while the qualities he possesses on and off the field are sure to make his teammates around him better,” says Ghotbi, who also brought in Club Puebla youngster Cristian Mares on loan.
Sandoval’s Liga MX career got its start in 2016 through Santos Laguna, where he picked up the best rookie award from the Mexican Football Federation after procuring the most assists from any Mexican athlete in the 2017 Clausura. Sandoval has had also suited up for Mexico at the U-18 level.
He would go on to feature for Chivas, a team won the Concacaf Champions League in 2018, and underwent loans to Juarez, Santos Laguna, Mazatlan, and New Zealand’s Wellington Pheonix before landing with Tepatitlan FC.
“I am hungry to help Vancouver get off to a strong start in the Canadian Premier League,” said Sandoval, who won’t be the only Liga MX athlete to join the side this year. “I am looking forward to playing in Canada and will be playing to win every time I step on the field.”
Sandoval had contributed seven goals and sixteen assists during his time in Liga MX, and his prior stint abroad with Wellington Phoenix saw him tally six goals and five assists in twenty appearances – quite a decent return.
The 27-year-old enters the CPL at a prime stage of his career, and can be deployed on both the left and right flanks. It should come as no surprise that the five-foot-five midfielder is being touted as a key playmaker for the expansion side.
“It’s a huge statement for the club,” Club President Rob Friend told CanPL.ca. “We tried to find a statement player – a bit of a, let’s call it game-changer player. Having a little bit of international flair is important, so I think we’ve landed on a really exciting player that I’d like to think is probably one of the biggest profiles that has come to this league.”
Vancouver FC has signed the winger to a deal for the 2023 CPL season, where he’ll be one of the most intriguing players to find on the pitch – especially given how sharp other Liga MX veterans like Francisco Acuna and Alejandro Diaz have performed in the league.
With rumours swirling that former Toronto FC right-back Kadin Chung might land with the side, the team looks set to add a nice layer of experienced professionals to the ranks.
Vancouver FC did not disclose the financial details of its contract with Gael Sandoval.
Header Image Photo Credit: Vancouver FC / Beau Chevalier