LAFC’s midfield has been a source of strength for the club in 2020, and while missing Atuesta is likely to be a huge deal for the MLS side — as Atuesta goes, typically so goes LAFC — the two likely choices for that starting spot have considerable experience this season.
So who’s it going to be?
It’s most likely either going to be Latif Blessing or Francisco Ginella, something Bob Bradley spoke about on Monday in his pregame press conference.
“Still to be determined, but I like the way we played in the second half [with Blessing]. And to be fair, when [Ginella] came on, he did a really great job when [Jose Cifuentes] needed to come off. So we’ve got four guys who are ready.”
Blessing came off the bench for both of LAFC’s Champions League games last week, and brought a boost in both matches, 10 minutes against Cruz Azul and the full second half against Club América. The utilityman, who has largely been a starter for LAFC the past two seasons, capped off the game Saturday with a stoppage-time goal to ice the 3-1 win.
Ginella, in his first season with LAFC, has quietly played in nearly every game this year for the club. The 21-year-old started the season opener, in Champions League play against Club León, when Atuesta was unavailable while on international duty.
Assuming Mark-Anthony Kaye and Cifuentes maintain their starting spots in midfield, which seems like a good bet, then Bradley will have to decide if he wants to go for Blessing from the start after the veteran has been so strong in his performances, or with Ginella, who may have a strong understanding of playing Latin American opposition after coming from one of the smaller teams in his native Uruguay prior to this year.
It’s a big decision, and again, Atuesta won’t be easily replaced. Still, if the starter who does step in is up for the challenge, then they could play a big role on what could be a historic night for LAFC on Tuesday.
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