One of the surprises of the MLS Players Union salary drop on Tuesday was the presence of a second Los Angeles Football Club player. While we were already aware that LAFC had signed midfielder Carlos Alvarez and then loaned him to USL affiliate Orange County SC, there was a second player listed as taking a salary on behalf of LAFC: midfielder Monday Bassey Etim.
The first thing is that American soccer collectively wondered who this guy is.
Etim is listed as a midfielder on the MLS Players Union release, not necessarily a stone-cold indication of his position, but a start.
He’s a product of the vaunted Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla. Located in Central Florida, the school is well known as a prep school for athletes in several sports, and in recent years several soccer players have gone from the school to sign a professional contract, including San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Matheus Silva, Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Deybi Flores, defender Oumar Diakhite, who now plays professionally in Portugal, and several members of the nearby Orlando City and Orlando City B teams.
Etim played for Montverde as recently as January, helping his school win a tournament they sponsored against teams from around the United States and abroad, and scored the lone goal in a win over Dutch powerhouse Feyenoord.
So it appears Etim is a rookie, although I have not been able to find his exact age.
What about 2017? If Etim is under contract at LAFC and they aren’t playing until next year, then what will he do?
Based on his Instagram page, Etim is apparently an Orange County SC player. This is bolstered by this post from earlier in the month, apparently taken in the company of other OCSC players.
While Etim says he’s an Orange County player, it should be noted that Orange County SC has not announced his signing (which would presumably be a loan from LAFC, like Alvarez), he’s not listed on Orange County SC’s website, or on USL’s website. Orange County SC had not responded to a request for comment on Etim as of Tuesday at 5:20 pm PT.
So what does this all tell us? Etim will probably be announced as an Orange County SC player at some point. There may be some delay on paperwork that has slowed down an announcement, but it seems quite likely one is on the horizon.
As for the veracity of the LAFC link, that is basically set in stone. The MLS Players Union would not include a player only rumored to be signed. All players under MLS contract are included in their salary release, and if he’s in the salary info, then he’s definitely under contract.
So what does this mean for the future? Is Etim guaranteed an MLS roster spot with LAFC in 2018? Not necessarily. Much like Alvarez, signing an MLS contract a year early certainly indicates a substantial interest by the expansion team and an expectation that the player will likely be in the team’s plans to begin the 2018 season. It does not, however, necessarily mean he’s a lock to make the LAFC roster for 2018, or if he does, that he’ll definitely get playing time. He might, but it’s much better to think of this year as an extended trial for next year, with the security of drawing a salary in the meantime.
I expect we’ll learn more about Etim in the days, weeks, and months to follow. From his apparent youth and likely rookie status, he’s another prospect, one with a solid pedigree. He remains a mystery on several levels, but we’re starting to get a sense of who the newest LAFC player is.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!