Since LAFC began playing in the MLS two years ago, everyone around the club has known nothing but regular-season success. Last year we saw a dominant team, a team that played the best football in MLS and won the Supporters’ Shield with a record of points.
This year we saw a different LAFC side affected by the pandemic, injuries, and bad decisions within the club.
One of the things that have made LAFC stand out from other new clubs has been how good their decisions have been building this team. It seemed that every signing, every move they made, would work perfectly fine, that was until this year. Center back Walker Zimmerman was traded to Nashville for $1.25 million in allocation money. It was a decision that was good from a financial standpoint but that proved to be costly for the team.
Right-back Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper Tyler Miller were also let go of and their absences were felt. LAFC signed right-back Andy Najar and goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer to replace Beitashour and Miller, but the transition wasn’t as good as we expected. Najar only started one game and Bradley never seemed to be 100% sure of who should start at the right-back position. Defenders Tristan Blackmon, Mohamed El-Munir, Eddie Segura, and even midfielder Latif Blessing were played at the right-back position at some point in the season. All of these doubts, in an already defensively weak team, made things even harder for the team. Bob Bradley’s team conceded 42 goals in 23matches, 1.83 goals per game.
The Covid-19 pandemic and injuries also had a major impact on the consistency of the team. Carlos Vela was out for two months and missed the majority of the games, Eduard Atuesta missed a couple of games due to injury and Mark-Anthony Kaye had to miss the last seven games of the season as well. Core players like Jose Cifuentes, Brian Rodriguez, Diego Rossi, and Diego Palacios also had to miss the playoffs after testing positive for the virus while they were on international duty. LAFC never managed to their complete team healthy at once.
Now LAFC begins to prepare for next season and already began making the first few moves for next year.
Recently, LAFC announced the roster moves ahead of the 2021 season. The club decided to reject five-player options including goalkeeper Philip Elimadu, Jesus Murillo, Andy Najar, Adrien Perez, and Bradley Wright-Phillips. Jordan Harvey, Dejan Jakovic, and Wright-Phillips are eligible for free agency.
El-Monir’s contract also expires at the end of the season. European clubs are also interested in players like Atuesta, Rossi, and Rodriguez so we could potentially see more than one of them leave as well.
LAFC still has to play the Concacaf Champions League where they will face Liga MX giants Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals in a one-match tie. The game will be on December 16 at 7:30 p.m. PT in Orlando.
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