Hey, it’s Friday, Los Angeles Football Club finally played a meaningful game this week, and yet the season hasn’t totally completely started. The first mailbag column seemed to go pretty well and thanks to you we got several good questions again this week, so let’s see if we can make this a regular thing.
Let’s jump right in:
If Vela is double teamed again in the second leg, who is LAFC's best option to either play that creative role or free him up?— Josie B ⚽️ ️ (@HoppyJosie) February 21, 2020
The obvious answer would be a “traditional” center forward like Adama Diomande or Bradley Wright-Phillips, but they’re both hurt so that option is out.
I personally prefer Diego Rossi to be the No. 9/false 9 over Carlos Vela or Brian Rodriguez. When Vela was on his otherworldly run last year, I could understand why he was playing as the center forward in a pinch but I think we can all agree that he probably shouldn’t be in that spot permanently yet, because he has more trouble getting into the attack in the middle.
But regardless of where they line up, I still think Rossi is the key player here. He’s had a knack for rallying LAFC in the past — I can think of three separate times off the top of my head where he kickstarted a rally with the first goal — and he has that will to win and the willingness to do whatever it takes, plus outstanding skills. If Vela is bottled up again, Rossi has to take the reins for LAFC to flip the Champions League series against Club León.
Thanks, Josie! I see you, SoCal Gal. Let’s see what’s next:
do you see the club signing any more trialists/draft picks/free agents before roster freeze day?— LaZerSnakeZ FC James (@JamesCoston) February 20, 2020
LAFC have to be compliant with their roster by the end of the month, but the actual final roster freeze is in the fall, and the primary transfer window closes May 1. By my count LAFC have 24 players on their roster at this stage, which is a small roster by MLS standards. The roster has pretty obvious needs at center back and right back, and while the club has stood pat before to wait for the right signing, I have to think they will be hard at work to make a couple of additions.
Aside from having two top center strikers hurt simultaneously, there aren’t other glaring holes in the squad aside from the constant quest to improve the quality. So I have a feeling they won’t be going out of their way to sign five or six more players. But I do expect another signing or two before the primary window closes.
Thank you James! What’s up next?
Will BWP have an opportunity to play in the 2nd leg— Chuy Gutierrez (@Chewy714) February 21, 2020
Unfortunately, no. The team announced last week Wright-Phillips had a sports hernia, and his timeline was in the 6-week range. Sports hernias can be tricky — some are cleared up and players are back to their best in short order, but some players’ recoveries can linger on and sometimes an initial timeline turns out to be twice that. I can’t say with authority where BWP will sit on that end of the spectrum, hopefully he will be ready around the start of April. But based on what the club has communicated, there’s no chance he’ll play on Thursday against León.
Can you consider this squad progress? pic.twitter.com/5wPg1Lee1y— Ludicrous Display (@lafcpodcast) February 20, 2020
A two-game sample size is honestly way too small to make sweeping conclusions. Dejan Jakovic played much better than most expected in León but I think pretty much everyone agrees he’s not a long-term upgrade over Walker Zimmerman. I thought Francisco Ginella was perhaps the best player in his debut for LAFC, although it would have been nice to have Eduard Atuesta playing, too, especially since Mark-Anthony Kaye seemed very rusty. The front line was the same between the games, although I think a “traditional” center forward is ideal alongside two slashing wide forwards, but injuries to Dio and BWP at the same time kind of threw that possibility out the window.
Will Kenneth Vermeer be an upgrade in goal? We’ll see. Will the midfield cohere and be better than they were last year? TBD. Will other players help share the scoring burden this year? Hopefully. Will anyone be sold abroad this year? Who knows?
Thanks, LAFC P. And thanks to everyone for reading. What do you want to discuss on this Friday? Let’s chat in the comments below!