Rodolfo Zelaya is one of the top soccer stars to come out of Central America in the last decade, shining in his El Salvador with league titans Alianza FC before signing with LAFC.
Las Vegas, NV -- Entering the final third of the 2019 USL Championship season, Lights FC struck a deal to reinforce their roster with top-notch national team caliber talent as elite Salvadoran striker Rodolfo Zelaya and Canadian defender Dejan Jakovic will join Las Vegas ahead of Saturday's road match against Orange County SC.
"I'm excited for our fans to get the opportunity to see Rodolfo Zelaya on our team. He's one of the most talented players to come out of Central America in the last decade," stated Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. "He's a perfect fit for us, he's going to represent the goal-scoring prowess and experience that we sorely need. On a personal note, in my time with Fox as an analyst, I followed his career and I'm honored to receive the opportunity to manage him, he's a special player.
“The idea of adding players to our team is something that we’ve been thinking about for months now," said Wynalda. "The stars have aligned, we’re getting cooperation from Bob Bradley’s team (LAFC) and we couldn’t be happier. It’s what we need right now, strengthen our roster bringing in someone with experience who can score goals like Rodolfo Zelaya and of course Dejan Jakovic is already familiar with our team, to have him come back is a blessing.”
"Fito" has a total of 21 goals with the El Salvador National Team, scoring 8 of them in CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
Rodolfo Zelaya is one of the most decorated players in El Salvador soccer history, earning 44 caps with his national team where his 21 goals have him trailing only Raúl Díaz Arce as his country's top goalscorer. He represented his nation in FIFA World Cup qualifying action ahead of the 2010 and 2014 tournaments. Plus he played vital roles for El Salvador in the 2011 and 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cups, where he scored 4 goals in each.
Winner of four championships in the Salvadoran first division with league titans Alianza FC, he scored a total of 126 goals in his time with the club. Zelaya springboarded from his native country to play in Mexico for Club Leon, in Russia with FC Alania Vladikavkaz and eventually signing in January 2019 with Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC.
“Rodolfo is a player I’ve watched for many years, I was really excited for him and his opportunity in LA,'' said Wynalda on the new addition to his roster. "Hopefully we can help him with our inclusion in his journey and as well he can help us, it’s a win-win. There has to be a certain element of understanding from Fito’s mentality, playing for Las Vegas Lights might be a way to prove to Bob Bradley that he is back in shape, he is in full form, and in the event that they take an injury or there is an opening, he’ll be ready.”
Dejan Jakovic returns to Lights FC, in June the team went undefeated in the three games he played.
Also joining Lights FC on loan from MLS side LAFC is defender Dejan Jakovic, who left his mark in Las Vegas earlier this season. He played in three games for the Lights in June, where the team obtained two wins and a draw, while only conceding a total of two goals.
“We’d love to have Dejan all the time but he is somebody else’s player, the fact that we were able to orchestrate a loan that makes sense for both parties is why we did it in the first place", said Wynalda. "Playing with us allows him to get the games, get the minutes, stay sharp so he can perform for his employer. We are just fortunate to have the opportunity to add him to the team every once in a while. He comes in and helps our team win.”
Both Zelaya and Jakovic will join Lights FC in Irvine, California and have been cleared by USL Championship to play in Saturday's match against Orange County SC. The game will be broadcast nationwide on ESPN+.