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LAFC 2018 Player Postmortem: Josh Perez

Local prospect makes surprise return to California.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve followed the youth game, you have likely known of the name of Josh Perez over the years. The Montebello native, a member of the Salvadoran-American Perez soccer family that most famously includes his uncle Hugo, a longtime U.S. international, the younger Perez spent time in Chivas USA’s academy, before moving over to Italy to join Fiorentina’s youth set-up at the earliest possible opportunity.

Perez was at one time the highest rated prospect his age in the American pipeline, beating out Christian Pulisic. Since then, Pulisic has found the path to first-team soccer at Borussia Dortmund and has the hopes of the country on his shoulders, while Perez couldn’t find a way into Fiorentina’s first team, and the versatile midfielder/forward came home, joining Los Angeles Football Club on a free transfer in August.

Perez is just 20, and joining a talented team so late, it’s clear he’s a project for Bob Bradley at this point. In the end, he played two competitive games for the black-and-gold in 2018, coming off the bench in the road loss to the Chicago Fire and in the home win over the Houston Dynamo.

Perez LAFC 2018 statistics

2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 2 0 22 0 0 0 0 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MLS Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2 0 22 0 0 0 0 0 0

Both times Perez entered the field, the outcomes of the games were decided so he was getting a little run to start acclimating.

Perez was also loaned out, briefly, to Phoenix Rising FC, playing 28 minutes off the bench in a 1-0 win over RGVFC in early September. Given the fact that both Tristan Blackmon and Shaft Brewer, Jr. had longer spells on loan at Phoenix, Bradley seemed to want Perez with LAFC to be available in the final weeks of the season, and he got a couple appearances with the MLS side in the end.

All indications are that Perez will be back with LAFC in 2019, and it makes sense, considering his pedigree and the fact that he’s an affordable young American, something LAFC could use as they mature in terms of squad depth. The big question, assuming he stays, is if he’ll get a real run next year, or if he’ll go out on loan for more seasoning. I would expect the latter, possibly some bouncing back and forth, but if he puts the talent together with production, don’t be surprised if Perez got real minutes for LAFC next year. With some stability and still some competition for places, but maybe not as much as at Fiorentina, and hard work over the offseason and in training camp, we could see a player break out in 2019, if everything comes together.

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