It’s that time again, time to recount the season that was, player by player.
It’s our first edition of Los Angeles Football Club player postmortems, fitting since it was the black-and-gold’s first season on the field. We begin with the players who did not see the field in competitive action for LAFC in 2018.
Nico Czornomaz: The Argentine was LAFC’s player on loan for the season, a victim of the club’s glut of international players and not enough roster slots. Signed as a 22-year-old, the midfielder had not even really spent time playing for the first team at his previous club, Defensa y Justicia. He was a blank slate, and essentially a project for LAFC.
Czornomaz was loaned to LAFC’s USL affiliate, Orange County SC, and we’ll go into more detail about his stint there as part of our Orange County SC Player Postmortem series. Quick and dirty, he played just five games for OCSC, and it can’t be said he made much of an impression there, although Orange County had a successful season and looked to be going for wins over giving youngsters reps.
Will he be back in 2019? Seems unlikely, but if LAFC really want the wide player and are really on a project with him, it’s possible.
Charlie Lyon: Speaking of Orange County, Lyon moved over to LAFC from OCSC, the only player to earn a contract outright from LAFC after spending last year with Orange County SC. The goalkeeper didn’t play any competitive minutes, although he spent a good chunk of the season as Tyler Miller’s backup, while Luis Lopez was out hurt.
It was a bit surprising that Lyon didn’t go to Orange County at all during the season, but serving as the primary backup for about half the year, OCSC had moved on to a new corps of GKs overall and Lyon was likely needed in training for LAFC. He did play in the friendly against Borussia Dortmund in May, playing the second half, but that was it for the good guy.
James Murphy: The young American midfielder came back stateside after a stint playing in English soccer, in Sheffield Wednesday’s system. Signed at 20, it seemed like Murphy might possibly get a shot to play for LAFC early on with LAFC’s skeletal roster to begin the campaign, but he never got a spot in a competitive game, as LAFC’s unusual midfield set-up turned out to be fairly deep.
Murphy did go on loan for a spell this year, heading out to USL expansion team Las Vegas Lights FC, to play for the circus and El Chelís and his son. He made seven appearances for the team, always entertaining but sometimes an unstable group to watch game to game.
I spoke to Carson Merk, who covers Lights FC, earlier this season about Murphy. Carson said Murphy was “very composed on the ball and good both ways,” someone who was able to bring some calm to a team that was all about chaos.
Murphy seemed to chafe a bit at his lack of opportunities with LAFC, and often hinted on his social media about being disappointed at not getting the chance to play he hoped he would. That’s pretty normal for a professional, who wants to be on the sideline all year? Still, will he be around next year to see if he can break through? Stay tuned.
Quillan Roberts: The former Toronto FC homegrown appeared to be signed either as competition for the backup goalkeeper spot or as insurance for a major injury, but he ended up getting a major injury himself and the slim chances he would play were wiped out. It was odd that LAFC carried four goalkeepers on their roster all year, but aside from starting LAFC’s first preseason friendly, Roberts was unlikely to see much action over the course of the season either way.
Steeve Saint-Duc: The Haitian teenager never came close to playing for LAFC this year, another player who was unable to crack the roster with no open international slots. Although he just came off participating for his country in the Concacaf U-20 Championship this month (Haiti did not make it out of the group stage, finishing second in their group to Costa Rica), he wasn’t active in his loan stint this year, for Strommen in Norway’s second-tier, making the 18 in two league games only, and no appearances. Was that due to injury? He went on loan in July, maybe too late to integrate with the side? That’s unclear, as intel on the Norwegian second division is hard to come by. Saint-Duc is clearly a project, but will LAFC look to keep him around next year? Like the rest of these players, that’s an open question right now.
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