Los Angeles Football Club went three deep in left backs in 2020, with Diego Palacios starting most of the season, then the ageless Jordan Harvey stepping up when needed and taking over, and Mohamed El Munir coming off the bench and getting an occasional spot start.
On the other hand, right back was a real problem position in the final weeks of the regular season, with Tristan Blackmon and Andy Najar both injured most of that stretch.
So El Munir pitched in at right back, alongside a rotating cast to fill the spot, and the Libyan performed pretty well considering it was a new experience for him.
Now, Blackmon is healthy so right back is all wrapped up for the playoff game Tuesday against the Seattle Sounders, right? Not so fast.
On Decision Day, LAFC head coach Bob Bradley played Eddie Segura, normally the left-sided center back, at right back, with Blackmon in Segura’s spot at center back, and Jesús David Murillo retaining his spot in the middle as the right-sided center back.
When asked about who might play right back against Seattle, Bradley’s response was somewhat surprising.
“Of late, Mohamed El Munir has played at right back and Eddie Segura has played at right back, so we have two really good options,” Bradley told reporters during a conference call Thursday.
Now, that is a surprise to me, because Segura has been a rock in the middle, and moving him to the right for the biggest game of the season sounds really strange. At the same time, El Munir did a job at right back when needed, but with Blackmon back — who has played the majority of his pro minutes at right back — surely slotting Blackmon back at right back is the most logical response?
I’m not a coach, and if whatever Bradley does works, that’s all that will matter, obviously. Also, it’s possible Bradley is raising this prospect as a bit of gamesmanship, to give the Sounders something to think about that turns out to be a total waste of time for them.
Having said that, Bradley typically doesn’t do this, dropping in lineup ideas as red herrings. He doesn’t usually reveal his lineups but he’s not someone who tends to play games with the press in hinting at false lineups, either. So my hunch is that we could possibly see Segura moved over, or El Munir moved over and maybe Blackmon isn’t in the lineup? Or Murillo? I think a surprise like that is potentially in play, which I guess wouldn’t make it a surprise at all, since he told the press about it. Stay tuned.
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