On Tuesday, LAFC made five picks as part of the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft. The players selected came from among those left unprotected by the league’s 22 clubs ahead of the event. It included Columbus Crew SC left back Jukka Raitala who was taken fourth.
Columbus Crew SC Left Back Jukka Raitala Picked by LAFC in MLS Expansion Draft
The Finnish international played one season in Columbus after signing with the club in December of last year. He made 20 starts and saw action in a total of 28 games for the Black and Gold in the regular season, registering two assists. The 29-year-old made one further start during the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Final in the playoffs. Overall, he finished as one of 10 Crew SC players to log at least 2,000 minutes.
Prior to his time with Columbus, Raitala played for a multitude of clubs throughout Europe. It included stints in Germany and Spain with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Osasuna respectively. Most recently, he made 28 appearances for Sogndal in Norway’s top flight during the 2016 season, a campaign where they finished 11th in the league.
Raitala also boasts extensive international experience. To date, he has a total of 39 caps with Finland’s national team. It included four starts during their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
What He Brings
Of the five players LAFC took in Tuesday’s expansion draft, Raitala played the most minutes for his respective club last year. He’s a marauding fullback who’s not afraid to push forward and contribute to the attack. His skill set involves creating chances in the final third from wide areas as a result of his crossing quality. Though Hector Jimenez supplanted him as the starting left back in Columbus at times, he should be able to compete for consistent minutes during LAFC’s inaugural season in the league.
LAFC Expansion Draft Summary
- Tyler Miller – goalkeeper – Seattle Sounders
- Latif Blessing – forward – Sporting KC
- Marco Ureña – forward – San Jose Earthquakes
- Jukka Raitala – fullback – Columbus Crew SC
- Raheem Edwards – fullback – Toronto FC