Los Angeles Football Club played in their first preseason game of 2019 on Sunday, defeating Toronto FC 3-1. Preseason games are meaningless...in the context of the result and projecting that to the season.
But that doesn’t mean the action itself is meaningless. Time for some knee-jerk reactions!
Blackmon could be a center back
Last season, Tristan Blackmon played for LAFC mostly as a right back, behind Steven Beitashour. But the rookie was loaned out to Phoenix Rising FC, where he got some reps as a center back, all the way to the USL Cup Final.
So is Blackmon a fullback? A center back? Both? He started on Sunday in the middle alongside newcomer Eddie Segura.
We’re underway against @torontofc!— LAFC (@LAFC) January 27, 2019
Reminder, this is a closed door scrimmage and we’ll be providing updates here throughout the match.
Today’s starting XI:
DEF: Harvey, Blackmon, Segura, Beitashour
MID: Nguyen, Atuesta, Horta
F: Rossi, Vela, Pérez
It could still have been a plug-and-play option, with the likely first-choice CBs — Walker Zimmerman, on international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team, and Danilo Silva, reportedly delayed to camp by visa issues — out for the day. But it seems pretty likely that Blackmon will continue to train as a center back, and if he does, he could make the team’s central defensive corps go five deep. That may not sound significant, but given how LAFC often went with three central defenders last year, having more depth there can’t hurt at all.
Amadou Dia on trial?
Sure seems like it. The right back was playing for LAFC to start the second half:
Second half is underway.— LAFC (@LAFC) January 27, 2019
How we’re lining up:
DEF: Amadou Dia, Lamar Batista, Dejan Jaković, Shaft Brewer Jr.
MID: Peter-Lee Vassell, Baggio Husidic, Alejandro Guido
F: Kevin Mendoza, Latif Blessing, Ricky Lopez-Espin
And this makes sense, potentially, if Blackmon becomes more of a center back moving forward. Dia is 25, and has enjoyed some ups and downs in his career so far. After playing really well as a rookie in 2015 with Sporting Kansas City, he slid out of the rotation there, and was traded to the Montreal Impact in July 2016. But he didn’t really catch on there, and in 2017 he joined Phoenix Rising, where he played regularly the last two seasons.
As a backup option to Steven Beitashour, Dia would probably fit the profile of a younger player with some MLS experience who would likely not command a big salary. That’s not to say that a deal is in place or is guaranteed for him, but don’t be surprised if he sticks around.
Consider the opposition
Finally, in considering LAFC allowed just one goal on the day, it is worth noting the competition they faced on the day. I think it’s obvious LAFC had the stronger squad lining up:
There’s probably four to maybe five starters there, none in attack. It was like that throughout, with the regulars mostly being defenders for TFC.
You can only play the team in front of you, but LAFC played much, much closer to a first-choice XI than TFC. Drew Moor scored late off a corner kick for Toronto, but LAFC’s defense held firm otherwise. Again, it’s just preseason, but don’t get carried away with the projections based on this one game.
LAFC’s next preseason game is the big friendly, on Thursday against Vissel Kobe. We’ll see what happens at that one.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!