Breakout player — a player who goes from a small role (or none at all) to becoming prominent, even key for his team.
One of the overriding themes for Los Angeles Football Club coming into their second season is how stable the lineup appears. Opening day will likely feature between 8-11 returning starters, so the opportunities for breakout players may be limited.
Or will it? Let’s predict who we think might “breakout” for LAFC in 2019, in whatever definition of the word you want to use.
Christian Ramirez made the move from LAFC in August last season for more than a handful of allocation money. Clearly, LAFC and Bob Bradley have invested in and bet on Ramirez. After scoring two goals in seven games in MLS, plus scoring against Real Salt Lake in the playoffs, Ramirez will look to come into the 2019 season in full form, having had a full offseason to train in with Bradley and master his system. In addition, Bradley said that Ramirez needed some polishing at the end of last season. He’s had that time and has the manager to do so, and this season has the team, the offense, the coach, and the potential, to be really special for Christian Ramirez.
Andre Horta came over as a Designated Player in the middle of the season last year, and didn’t cover himself in glory. He had notable mistakes, such as the calamitous back pass that lead to the Galaxy’s equalizing goal in the second edition of El Trafico, and overall just did not command a space in the midfield. But Horta clearly has talent, and was brought to this team for a reason. Foreign players typically take some time to adjust to MLS, especially young ones, and are typically much better in their second year. Benny Feilhaber is gone now, and the path to a midfield spot on a very good team is there for the taking. It’s up to Horta now to take it, and I think he will.
I’m going out on a limb to predict that Peter-Lee Vassell will be a breakout player for LAFC in 2019. Yes, I know he isn’t even officially signed yet, but the Jamaican international played significant minutes in preseason and he takes set pieces. That doesn’t guarantee he’ll see a lot of playing time, but I think if he can set up an assist or two late in a game off the bench, he could be in line for more minutes, and it could snowball into a pretty tidy debut season in MLS. Add to that the fact that he’s not going to be a focal point but he’s got a good pedigree, and it could be the way for him to sneak in and take some folks by surprise in 2019.
Who’s your breakout player of choice for LAFC this season? Leave a comment below!