Speedy winger Kevin Cabral signs five-year deal with Galaxy

Kevin Baxter
·3 min read
Valenciennes' French forward Kevin Cabral (R) celebrates after scoring during the French Cup round-of-64 football match.
Valenciennes forward Kevin Cabral celebrates after scoring during the French Cup round-of-64 football match against Reims on Feb. 9. (Francois Nascimbeni / AFP via Getty Images)

The Galaxy continued their roster overhaul Thursday, signing versatile forward Kevin Cabral as a young designated player on a transfer from second-division French club Valenciennes.

Cabral, 21, is a speedy winger who primarily plays on the left side. He made a career-high 32 appearances in all competition this season, starting 31 times and setting career bests for goals (10) and assists (4). But with Valenciennes stuck in the middle of the Ligue 2 standings, in little danger of relegation but with little chance of promotion, the team decided to sell him.

Cabral is the youngest designated player in franchise history and his deal is for five seasons with a one-year club option, believed to be the longest deal in Galaxy history. Financial terms of the contract were not announced but the French sports daily L’Equipe has reported Cabral’s transfer fee at $5.9 million.

Cabral's signing means the Galaxy have moved on, at least temporarily, from Cristian Pavón, the Argentine World Cup player who led the team in scoring while on loan last season. Cabral primarily plays on the left wing, the same position as Pavón, and Cabral has taken the team's final DP spot, which the Galaxy had been holding for Pavón.

The Galaxy were close to acquiring Pavón from Boca Juniors, his Argentine club, but the deal stalled after Pavón was accused of rape in Argentina. Pavón has denied the charges, and the case remains in court.

Cabral is the 12th player the Galaxy have added this winter under new coach Greg Vanney and the fifth to come to MLS from a European club, suggesting a change in the team’s scouting focus. In two years under Argentine Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the previous Galaxy manager, the team signed 26 players, 12 of whom were born in Latin America.

Vanney cautioned against reading too much into that.

“It doesn’t matter to me where players come from,” he said. “I look at what is the skill set, what is the role we need defined within our team and who is the best player to fit that role. If that player comes from South America, from Asia, from Europe or anywhere it doesn’t make a difference.”

Born in Paris to a family from Cape Verde, Cabral trained with the Paris Saint-German youth system before signing with Valenciennes permanently in 2017.

“Kevin was brought up by the coaching staff, and specifically Greg, who has been following [him] for a long time,” general manager Dennis te Kloese said. “Obviously he’s young, which gives him some room to develop. On the other hand he’s been developed at a very good academy.

“I think he can be a very good asset to the club Greg is putting together.”

To complete the signing, the Galaxy sent $250,000 in general allocation money and a 2022 first-round SuperDraft pick to FC Cincinnati in exchange for Cabral’s discovery rights. Cincinnati will also get an additional $100,000 in general allocation money if the Galaxy quality for the MLS playoffs twice while Cabral is with the team. i

Cabral is expected to join the Galaxy in Tucson, where the team is playing in a preseason tournament. The Galaxy open the 26th MLS season on April 18 in South Florida against David Beckham’s Inter Miami.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.