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LAFC likely to play all three Designated Players vs. Toronto FC

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Likely a new-look forward line on Saturday vs. Toronto FC.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Philadelphia Union
These two could be on the field at the same time for the first time.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club don’t have to worry about injuries this week, as only long-term absence Javi Perez is out for Saturday’s game against Toronto FC at The Banc, but they will have a change to their starting XI.

News broke on Friday that starting central striker Adama Diomande will be unavailable for the foreseeable future, as he voluntarily entered MLS’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program. The reason for his entering the program was not announced and we will not speculate on that, and we wish Dio the best during this time.

With the Norwegian out an indefinite time, on the field it’s worth wondering what will happen. Considering Diomande has played the last 12 league games (11 starts) he was a fixture in the lineup. What will Bob Bradley opt to do against Toronto FC?

As always, we have to wait and see for certain, but it’s quite likely the Designated Player trio of Diego Rossi, Carlos Vela and Brian Rodriguez will play together for the first time.

All three players are capable of playing both centrally and out wide in LAFC’s 4-3-3 system, and while it’s hard to say which player will slot in the middle, all are capable of it.

Likely, the players will take turns and play rather interchangeably up top. Either way, it seems the most likely solution.

In fact, LAFC are fairly thin when it comes to “pure” central strikers like Dio. Christian Ramirez was traded away to the Houston Dynamo in August, and Rodolfo Zelaya has been rumored to be out of the club’s plans for next season and was sent on loan to USL Championship side Las Vegas Lights FC. It’s possible Zelaya could earn a recall, or someone like Adrien Perez or Josh Perez could slot into the central striker role, but with Rodriguez already playing significant minutes for LAFC, it seems quite likely he’ll come into the starting XI.

Notably, while Rossi has played with both of his fellow DPs, Rodriguez and Vela have yet to play together, with Rodriguez replacing Vela as a substitute on two occasions. With LAFC on a four-game winless run and eager to clinch the Supporters’ Shield, chances are the three marquee players will play together for the first time, as they look to return to winning ways over TFC at The Banc.