Phoenix Rising, one of 12 entities to submit an MLS expansion bid last week, has brought aboard a vital component for the 2017 USL season.
The team announced Thursday it has signed Mexican striker Omar Bravo to a contract. Bravo, 35, is the all-time leading scorer for Chivas (132 goals) and has also played in Mexico for Tigres, Cruz Azul and Atlas as well as Deportivo La Coruna in Spain and Sporting Kansas City. For Mexico he scored 15 goals in 66 appearances.
“I am attracted to the energy and excitement surrounding this organization and committed to helping the team succeed,” said Bravo in a team press release. “I also want to help inspire the thousands of youth soccer players in Arizona and ignite their passion for our beautiful game.”
After playing its first two USL seasons as Arizona United FC, the club was bought and rebranded last November by a group of investors led by Berke Bakay. It has retained veteran head coach Frank Yallop and leased property in south Scottsdale on which it plans to build a soccer stadium and training complex.
“Our ownership group promised to build a championship-caliber team,” said Bakay. “A player as experienced as Omar Bravo, with his over 300 appearances for one of Mexico’s most storied clubs and the national team, will help solidify an already strong lineup assembled by our celebrated head coach Frank Yallop.”
Bravo started his pro career with Chivas in 2001 and scored 101 goals in seven seasons before moving to Deportivo in 2008. He scored one goal in La Liga and two in the Copa del Rey and also went on loan to Tigres before coming back to Chivas in 2010. Sporting Kansas City purchased his rights in a $1.5 million transfer and he scored nine goals and registered three assists in 27 games during the 2011 season.
Since leaving MLS after that one season he’s played for Cruz Azul, Atlas and Chivas, which loaned him to Carolina RailHawks of the USL last season. For the RailHawks he scored four goals and recorded one assist in 14 games.
Bravo scored for Mexico in his debut at the 2003 Gold Cup and also played in the 2005, 2007, and 2009 editions of that tournament. He scored two goals against Iran in the 2006 World Cup and tallied three goals at the 2007 Copa America. He last played for Mexico in 2013.