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LAFC 2018 Player Postmortem: Latif Blessing

Cult hero played versatile figure for expansion team.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Los Angeles FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Latif Blessing was one of Los Angeles Football Club’s selections in the Expansion Draft a year ago. The Ghanaian had spent the 2017 season, his first in MLS, with Sporting Kansas City, and while he had had a decent spell there he was left unprotected and LAFC snapped him right up.

Remarkably, Blessing is still only 21, as his birthday is December 30, and he has two campaigns in MLS under his belt. With LAFC, we saw a bit of a blossoming for the wide forward, as he scored seven goals and six assists across all competitions in 2018.

Blessing 2018 LAFC 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 30 18 1,804 5 6 49 20 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 4 4 390 2 0 8 4 0 0
MLS Playoffs 1 1 76 0 0 1 0 0 0
Total 35 23 2,270 7 6 58 24 0 0

Blessing showed his value in several ways. His contract is one of the best steals in MLS, as he earned around $80,000 this year. Sporting managed to get him a green card in near-record time, so he counts as a domestic player.

And he’s the rare player who seems equally adept as a starter and off the bench. Most players seem to thrive in one or the other, and really, the best players tend to be starters, with the reserves fighting for scraps on most rosters. That was largely true for LAFC, too, but Blessing was the exception. Bob Bradley could take a team struggling to keep a spark alive late in a game, put Blessing in, and find a boost in attack and for his teammates.

Production-wise, however, the numbers were clear: All but one of his goals and one of his assists came in games he started. He’s a player capable to lifting the energy level of his team off the bench, but to get the most out of him he still seems to be best suited to see heavy minutes.

All of what Blessing brings to the team is what has made him a cult figure for LAFC fans. Blessing’s enthusiasm, energy and hard-working nature won him plaudits on the field, and his efforts to do charity work to benefit people in his native Ghana through his Share the Blessing fundraising campaign did the same off the field.

Blessing is projected to be back for LAFC in 2019, and it will be interesting to see if the player, who was voted No. 11 in MLS’s “22 Under 22” list this year, will continue to develop his game and make a bigger jump next season. A benchmark around 10 goals for the season? Seems something he is capable of doing.

Let’s finish this with a look back at one of his goals, a gritty effort in LAFC’s second U.S. Open Cup game, against Sacramento Republic FC, as the home side avoided the upset with Blessing’s rolling tap-in near the end of regulation.

Starter or sub, scorer or provider, on the field or off, Latif Blessing was a hit for LAFC in 2018.

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