CARSON, Calif. — Jonathan Dos Santos didn’t have a number on the back of his new LA Galaxy jersey when he proudly held it aloft at StubHub Center.
The name that goes on the back of that shirt is already familiar to every Galaxy fan, and they’re hoping for twice the excitement when the Dos Santos brothers finally get to play together again.
The Galaxy unveiled their latest designated player acquisition Friday, adding the Mexican star to their roster two years after signing Giovani Dos Santos, Jonathan’s older brother.
“I came here because it’s a great opportunity for me to grow,” Dos Santos said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to play with my brother, and I’m happy to be able to play with him. It’s always been a dream of ours to play together and to make history in a team like the LA Galaxy. This is the best organization in Major League Soccer. My objective is to win titles and to be a figure for this team and the league.”
The Galaxy added Dos Santos on a transfer from Villareal on Thursday, coincidentally finalizing the long-gestating deal a few hours after firing coach Curt Onalfo and hiring Sigi Schmid. The club is counting on Dos Santos and Schmid to be major factors in their push for a postseason berth after a rocky start to the season.
And putting the brothers on the same club team for the first time since the 2014-15 season at Villareal will provide numerous benefits, Galaxy President Chris Klein figures.
“A lot of building a team is finding players who are comfortable with each other, and they certainly are,” Klein said. “They’re very different people, very different professionals, and so they have to let their own characteristics come out, but we think that’s an advantage.”
The brothers came up together in Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, and they spent one season together at Villareal before Giovani went stateside. Jonathan was a regular for the Yellow Submarine for the past two years, developing into an elite holding midfielder.
But the Galaxy have been pursuing Jonathan ever since they acquired Giovani, even making a bid that was rejected by Villareal in January. LA finally reached a deal that included a raise for the younger brother, although Jonathan said money wasn’t a factor in his decision.
“This league is growing a lot,” Dos Santos said. “There’s a lot of great players already here, and I want that competition to continue. To be here doesn’t mean that my level of play will decrease. I’ll continue to work hard and grow as a player.”
Dos Santos apologized for his halting English, which isn’t as fluent as his multilingual brother’s skill. The brothers are markedly different players as well, with Gio surging creatively in the attack while Jonathan excels as a two-way player.
Schmid hopes Dos Santos can join training next week after sorting out the usual visa issues. With just 13 league games left after Saturday’s meeting with Seattle, the club likely needs every minute possible from its new midfielder to chase down a playoff spot.
LA is ninth in the 11-team Western Conference heading into the weekend, sitting far below the standard expected from a high-priced roster of international talent. That roster got even more expensive with Dos Santos’ arrival, and general manager Peter Vagenas said an MLS Cup title remains the Galaxy’s goal this year.
Although the deep-pocketed club was thrilled to land Dos Santos, Klein acknowledged the Galaxy pursued other designated player candidates, including superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“We have an incredible relationship with Zlatan and his agent,” Klein said. “He loves our club. He loves LA. We have an interest with him, but I think for now, he wants to stay in Europe. There are a lot of twists and turns with players from around the world, but certainly our doors are open for a player like that. We have rights to him in our league, and we’ll see where that goes.”