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LAFC 2019 Player Postmortem: Diego Palacios

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Ecuadorian gives glimpse of the future in black-and-gold.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Minnesota United FC Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Diego Palacios was the surprise addition to Los Angeles Football Club in the summer transfer window, the 20-year-old was brought in after Brian Rodriguez’s much more publicized transfer saga for the black-and-gold.

Like Rodriguez, Palacios was a young South American, an Ecuadorian left back who had spent last season in Europe, playing for Dutch side Willem II. Between that and helping Ecuador to an impressive third-place showing at this year’s U-20 World Cup, Palacios was on the radar of a lot of teams.

In fact, LAFC beat out La Liga giant FC Barcelona to get Palacios, the prospect of playing top-flight soccer more appealing than trying to duke it out in the second team and hopefully play on the biggest stage eventually being more attractive. And considering the competition for spots at Barcelona and the astronomical odds of being promoted from within to the first team, going from “How do you say no to FC Barcelona???” to “Actually, LAFC might be the better option for the player right now” makes some real sense. And locally, signing a player nicknamed “Chiqui” to a Los Angeles team is so incredibly fitting.

In the end, Palacios, who has started getting regular call-ups to Ecuador’s senior national team, didn’t play much for LAFC, starting one game, the late road draw against Minnesota United. He looked pretty good in that game, certainly able to keep up with the pace of play, although it’s hard to really extrapolate from just 92 minutes of play.

Here are Palacios’ statistics with LAFC:

Diego Palacios 2019 LAFC statistics

2019 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2019 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 2 1 92 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 1 92 0 0 0 0 0 0

In 2019, LAFC had the most depth on the roster at left back, with Jordan Harvey refusing to give in to Father Time and Mohamed El-Munir putting in some solid shifts too when he wasn’t hurt. Those concerned that Palacios didn’t get much run this year shouldn’t be, he’s a player bought for the future and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s the starter in 2020. That’s why he was protected in the Expansion Draft, too, because he’s penciled in as the starter very soon, if everything goes right.

LAFC have found a rich vein of talent in South America, picking up Palacios and Rodriguez as well as Diego Rossi, Eduard Atuesta and Eddie Segura. The plan is pretty obvious, to bring these youngsters through, have them boss at MLS level, then sell them to Europe. We haven’t quite reached the final step of that phase yet, but Palacios could very well be the next youngster the rest of MLS will look at with envy very soon, wondering exactly how they find these players and get quality out of them at such a high rate. 2019 was just the beginning for Palacios, but there’s surely more to come from the 20-year-old.

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