Vancouver FC land marquee signing in Gael Sandoval

Vancouver FC today announced the addition of star winger Gael Sandoval to the club’s inaugural squad, ahead of its first Canadian Premier League season in 2023.

In signing Sandoval to a 2023 contract, Vancouver head coach Afshin Ghotbi has landed a key playmaker for a team looking to make an impression in its first season in the League. Sandoval, who stands at five-foot-five, is a versatile attacking midfielder who can play on either the left or right side of the field.

The 27-year-old native of Guadalajara, Mexico has made 119 appearances in Mexico’s top division, Liga MX, at such storied clubs as Santos Laguna, FC Juárez, Club Deportivo Guadalajara (Chivas) and Mazatlán FC. 

“Gael is our most exciting signing in our young history, as he brings with him the tradition and pedigree of world-renowned Chivas and other well-known Mexican clubs,” said Ghotbi. “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.” 

Sandoval made his Liga MX debut as a 20-year-old in July 2016, after years in the Mexican youth system. He quickly made a name for himself with Santos Laguna, winning the best rookie award at the 2016-2017 Liga MX Balón de Oro, an annual awards ceremony presented by the Mexican Football Federation, and producing more assists than any other Mexican player in the 2017 Clausura, the closing tournament in the Liga MX season. 

The rookie performance earned Sandoval a move to Chivas in November 2017, where he would go on to make 55 appearances for the club and help Chivas to its first Concacaf Champions League win in 2018. 

Sandoval spent the 2021 season on loan from Chivas with Mazatlán FC, his most recent action in Liga MX play. He has seven Liga MX goals and 16 assists over seven seasons in Mexico’s top division. 

Prior to signing with Vancouver, Sandoval spent the 2022 season on loan from Chivas with Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League, his first taste of action outside of Mexican football. He made 20 appearances for the club, scoring six goals and adding five assists. He was most recently on trial with Mexican side Tepatitlán F.C. before landing in the Lower Mainland.

Sandoval has also previously represented the Mexican National Team at the under-18 level.

“I am hungry to help Vancouver get off to a strong start in the Canadian Premier League,” said Sandoval. “I am looking forward to playing in Canada and will be playing to win every time I step on the field.”

Sandoval joins strikers Mamadou Kane, Nathanial St. Louis and Shaan Hundal, midfielders Elliot Simmons, Gabriel Bitar, Nima Moazeni Zadeh, Maël Henry, and Cristian Mares, defenders Pele Martinez, Rocco Romeo, Marcus Simmons, Kahlil John-Wentworth and Tyler Crawford and goalkeepers Callum Irving and Jeremy Zielinski on Vancouver’s roster.