Los Angeles Football Club were the busy team at the end of the Primary Transfer Window in MLS this week. In some respects, their acquisition of Lee Nguyen in a trade with the New England Revolution and signing Norwegian striker Adama Diomandé from Hull City was a surprise, since word on both deals broke either with the official news or moments before it was announced. But here are three reasons why LAFC turned out to be the most active team in the league on Transfer Deadline Day.
They need players
Those who have been nervous about LAFC’s squad depth had good reason to be. Prior to the two deals, LAFC had 23 players active and available to play (two other players, Nico Czornomaz and Andre Horta, are currently ineligible to play, and Horta is yet to arrive in Los Angeles). A couple costly injuries, and of course, the World Cup on the horizon in a matter of weeks, means the team could find itself unable to even field a gameday 18 pretty easily. I haven’t gone through all the rosters in the league, but I would guess it’s the smallest roster around, which again, is concerning when teams can carry upwards of 30 players.
So anytime LAFC can add players, it’s good. While I think quite a few people are curious as to why they haven’t added an additional center back yet, with a mere three on the roster at the moment, the team could use depth pretty much anywhere, and Nguyen and Diomandé certainly provide more players for a long season ahead.
They add value
In the case of Nguyen in particular, LAFC add a player who has been the best on his team for several years, who was just rotting on the roster due to a demand to be traded. Nguyen was a coveted asset around the league, and at least one team offered more than the $700,000 base in allocation money LAFC sent to acquire him. The deciding factor in getting him, it seems from reports circulating, is that the Revolution refused to trade to another Eastern Conference team. Their loss, LAFC’s gain!
Nguyen is a starter, and while he may not start right away if he’s not match fit yet, he’ll slot into the lineup pretty much as soon as he is. He’s like Benny Feilhaber, a smart, skilled, talented attacking midfielder with plenty of experience but also not washed up, and LAFC was the envy of many teams when they secured Nguyen.
With Marco Ureña out with a broken face after surgery, assuming Diomandé gets clearance to play with international slots sorted, he’ll likely be playing soon, too. Diomandé had a career year with Bob Bradley previously at Stabaek, but he looks like he comes from the same mold as Ureña, and so having him through the Costa Rican’s recovery and likely departure to the World Cup means LAFC shouldn’t have a huge dip with Ureña out. In other words, Nguyen and Diomandé were not warm bodies to make up the numbers but will likely be starters by the end of the month at the latest.
They’ll help during the World Cup
LAFC are likely to be one of the teams worst hit by the World Cup, and while the league will take a break during the group stage (although the U.S. Open Cup will probably have at least one game in that interregnum) between training camps and possible progression into the knockout stage, key players could miss several games while away with their countries for the World Cup.
If Diomandé seems to be a good analog of Ureña, then Nguyen can do many of the things that Carlos Vela does. While I think the ultimate expectation is that Vela and Nguyen play extensively together, and their styles seem to mesh well without playing the exact same roles, Nguyen’s arrival means Vela’s temporary departure may not be as catastrophic to LAFC’s hopes as it looked a few days ago.
So instead of standing pat and waiting until the summer to see who they could add, after the World Cup and after Horta arrives and begins play, LAFC made two moves that address needs for the team, provide value with likely immediate starters, and as long as all things go as planned, should help the team in both the short-term and over the long haul. In that way, the flurry of activity at the deadline makes total sense.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!