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Orange County SC 2017 Player Postmortem: Rodrigo Pacheco

Second LAFC loanee got into the mix quickly.

Courtesy of Orange County SC.

When Orange County SC became Los Angeles Football Club’s USL affiliate, there was the promise of OC being the loan destination for sub-big name players in North America. While Carlos Alvarez was added on loan to start the season, another player got in on the act in September, when few were expecting a new signing for LAFC, in Argentine striker Rodrigo Pacheco.

The 21-year-old joined from Lanus, where he was part of their youth ranks, on loan. The length of the original loan is unclear — something we’ll discuss below. But it gave Pacheco a chance to get acclimated to American soccer by joining an Orange County side that was in a jam late in the season, looking for goals and improved defense as they hit a skid in the busiest part of the campaign.

All told, Pacheco made seven appearances and scored one goal, on Oct. 4 in a win against Sacramento Republic. It was a poacher’s goal, as he turned in a shot off the woodwork by Zach Kobayashi, but the result helped revive OC’s playoff hopes for a little while.

Interestingly, Pacheco’s skillset seemed to mirror that of Carlos Vela, as a striker with a decent workrate who was not afraid to drop back and play deeper, while getting teammates involved in the attack. I’m not sure that I saw him pull the strings in the attack much — Irvin Parra turned out to be able to perform that role with aplomb — but despite having a poacher’s goal in his USL account I don’t think he’s actually a straight-up poacher as a striker.

Here were Pacheco’s statistics with Orange County:

Pacheco Orange County SC 2017 statistics

2017 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2017 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
USL Regular Season 7 6 565 1 1 7 4 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 7 6 565 1 1 7 4 0 0

The big question, perhaps, is whether the limited minutes Pacheco played indicate whether he’s ready for MLS or not. Given the relative paucity of international slots in MLS, most international players need to be regular contributors at least in order to merit the spot.

Based on limited minutes, I don’t think we can say for sure that Pacheco is an MLS-caliber striker. I’ve felt all along that he’s probably a prospect, someone who LAFC brass would watch very closely at Orange County, see how he did there, and perhaps offer a preseason training camp spot to see if he can stick with the MLS roster.

Of course, we don’t know how long his loan is for — it could be to the end of this year, in which case they would likely need to renew the loan or pick up the option to buy him by the start of the year, or it’s a loan that stretches into the Summer 2018 transfer window, or possibly even the end of 2018. The uncertainty may or may not force LAFC’s hand as to the player’s future. If the loan was for a year, then they can keep him around as a prospect, but if it was a short-term loan to the end of the year, they’ll need to make a decision of some kind very soon.

At least from crumbs on Pacheco’s social media, it appears he expects to be at LAFC in 2018. Again, this may have been part of the plan all along, to help him acclimate to the United States before the MLS team gets going, and perhaps we’ll see a lot more of Pacheco in black next year, maybe for the MLS side this time. We’ll see.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!