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LAFC 2019 Player Postmortem: Adrien Perez

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Forward offered hometown underdog story for black-and-gold.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Every team needs a local kid come good, and in 2019, that player for Los Angeles Football Club was Adrien Perez.

We’re still a year or two out from LAFC’s academy producing pro signings for the first team, and in the meantime that hometown kid story has been subsumed, lost in the excitement of the team launching and then turning into a Supporters’ Shield winner.

Perez’s story isn’t just a hometown kid come good, it is a true underdog tale. After playing collegiately for Loyola Marymount, he turned pro on the arena circuit and became a scoring sensation for the Ontario Fury, scoring an eye-popping 47 goals in 28 games. Obviously arena soccer is way different than the outdoor game and it’s not exactly a place for the best of the best players to go anymore, but those are still some fine numbers.

From there, Perez got an invitation to LAFC’s preseason camp this year. As he told Angels on Parade in an exclusive interview earlier this season, the person who recommended Perez to Bob Bradley? None other than MLS and indoor legend Preki, now an assistant coach at the Seattle Sounders (oh, the irony).

Perez was almost entirely used as a late-game substitute for LAFC, but in some respects even having that role was quite a big leap for the rookie. Making 13 appearances in all competitions on a team that was stacked showed Perez had earned Bradley’s trust, and the youngster had some good plays in limited minutes.

Here are Perez’s LAFC statistics in 2019:

Adrien Perez 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 12 1 206 1 0 7 3 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
MLS Playoffs 1 0 14 0 0 2 0 0 0
Total 13 1 220 1 0 9 3 0 0

Maybe the best indication of Perez showing his quality at MLS level was scoring his first goal, in his first start, away at Orlando City when the team absolutely needed someone to step up.

As you would expect for an arena soccer player, Perez can work in tight spaces and be opportunistic, as he was in burying the loose ball in Orlando’s box on that goal. It was a great sight to see and a good reward for him.

The trust Bradley had in Perez? He still has it, as he was one of the players whose contract option was picked up by LAFC for 2020. Part of that stems from Perez being amply affordable and likely on the supplemental roster next year, while being familiar with Bradley’s system and willing to come off the bench.

There are those who will say that Perez is a nice story and all, but were LAFC to count on him to play major minutes, it would indicate LAFC had suffered some kind of injury crisis and let’s be real, he’s not on the level of the regular starters. That is true. But in MLS you can’t have high-profile, high-priced players sitting on the bench regularly with the salary cap system in place. There is a place for the last 10 guys on the roster and Perez is a classic player in that mold. And if he continues to grow in 2020, maybe he will show he can do even more than that at the MLS level. To be determined.

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