Diego Rossi’s quality was evident from the first game he played for Los Angeles Football Club, the Uruguayan scoring in his and the club’s first game in MLS in 2018.
The very next game, Rossi made history, scoring two goals and three assists in a 5-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
Since then, he’s only grown in ability — leading LAFC in scoring across all competitions in 2018, he was top five in the league in scoring last year, even with teammate Carlos Vela breaking MLS’s single-season scoring record at the same time.
The top young player in the league was expected to play a big role in the MLS is Back Tournament, with Vela out, and Rossi has delivered in two games, scoring a goal and an assist in a 3-3 comeback draw against the Houston Dynamo, before putting on a masterful performance Saturday, scoring four goals and assisting a fifth in a come-from-behind 6-2 win over the LA Galaxy.
Rossi is the first player in MLS history to score or assist on five goals in a single game twice.
Diego Rossi of Los Angeles FC #LAFC scored 4 goals in the 6-2 win vs LA Galaxy, the 13th player in #MLS history to score that many.— MLS Communications (@MLS_PR) July 19, 2020
Rossi added an assist, the 8th time a player was involved in a record 5 goals in a game -- Rossi is the first ever to do it twice#MLSisBack
Not surprisingly, LAFC were thrilled with Rossi’s performance.
“I think he’s in excellent form,” head coach Bob Bradley told reporters after the game. “We saw it early in the season, and he worked very hard during the period when we couldn’t train, and you could see as we got back into team training how sharp he was and it continues.
“He continues to grow as a player. His maturity; obviously his speed, but also his movement, his way of coming way from defenders, his threat to go deep, these are all things that for me you can see, and his finishing just gets better and better.”
Pablo Sisniega, who made his season debut in goal for LAFC in the win, was glowing in his praise for Rossi.
“Obviously Diego had an amazing performance,” he said. “To score four goals is something that’s at the reach of very few players and obviously he’s a special kind of player, and he’s stepping up right now. So obviously it was a great, great night for him.”
Still just 22 years old, Rossi maintained his humility after his four-goal haul and was as interested in paying tribute to the rivalry win as anything.
“Well, the feelings are really good,” Rossi said through an interpreter. “Obviously I’m happy with my goals but I am more happy about the result, the attitude of the team. We always want to play with heart, and that attitude is what we are happy about.”
Bradley made an interesting point postgame, with the rust evident from pretty much every team getting back into action, it’s opened up opportunities in MLS games for young players like Rossi to emerge.
“Look, for all teams, when you go a long time without a game, the first games back are a challenge,” Bradley explained. “I saw the same thing in Europe. I saw the same thing in La Liga and Bundesliga and EPL; You miss the games, and finding the right sharpness, getting the fitness back, all the little details do take some time.
“Early on you see teams at different levels. Yes, we’ve seen some very good goals. Some really good games from some different attacking players. [Ayo] Akinola for Toronto; Chris Mueller has done well. So you see that some of the different young players are stepping up,” he said.
It’s just two games in, but after another historic night for Rossi, he appears to be taking the mantle to spearhead the attack with both arms for LAFC in Orlando.
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