It can be hard adjusting to a new team, especially when you arrive in the middle of the season. It can be difficult, adjusting to being a professional athlete at just the age of 18. It can be brutal, having to navigate life in a foreign country, oceans away from family, while pursuing your childhood dreams. Yet, there’s LAFC defender Mamadou Fall, who's not only doing all three, but doing so while quickly making a name for himself in a team full of stars.
While LAFC signed the 18-year-old from Senegal in June of this season, his journey really began when he was 14. When he made the move from his home country, to come to the United States, to attend the Montverde Academy, in Florida. The risky move would pay off in June of this year, when LAFC brought the defender into the club. At the time, he seemed like more of a long-term project, as opposed to immediate impact player.
That’s the thing with sports though, things happen. In the summer, an injury bug hit LAFC, seeing star defender Eddie Segura fall victim to a season-ending ACL injury. In addition, the big offseason signing, Kim Moon-Hwan, was not only adjusting to life with a new club himself, but also various knocks that saw his minutes decrease. Not to mention, a struggle all season that left many looking for answers, and to change things up. Enter, Mamadou Fall.
Fall got his first MLS start on August 15th, on the road, against a resurgent Atlanta United. While the match ended in a loss for the team, it was clear Mamadou was a player to keep eyes on. Not one to waste the moment, Fall seized his opportunity, and from that day, has yet to see himself outside of the Starting XI. With 13 appearances, all 10 of Mamadou’s starts have come in the subsequent matches.
Not just a stalwart on defense, Fall has surprisingly become a threat in attack. His breakout match, a 4-0 win at home for LAFC against a top of the conference Sporting KC side, saw him not only open his MLS account, but achieve his first career brace as well. His third goal of the season was probably his biggest yet, a goal to give his side the lead against rivals LA Galaxy. The match would end in a draw, but Fall made sure if you didn't know, now you know.
After just four months, Mamadou hasn't just made his name with LAFC. This past week, Fall was once again named to the MLS Team of the Week. It would be his third time receiving the honor. While the on-field accolades, the meteoric rise to breakthrough into the starting XI, and the goals are all great, there is one thing more impressive. His attitude.
For a team that hasn't quite felt the same, spiritually, since the departure of Walker Zimmerman, Fall looks to fill that role too. While he remains the young up-and-comer, you can already sense that “IT” factor that gets talked about so much in sports. His swag, visible, and his confidence, palpable. It may not be long before the young sensation transforms into trusted voice in the locker room, and when that happens, the sky is truly the limit. Not just for Mamadou Fall, but LAFC as a whole.
What do you think about LAFC’s newest starting defender? Leave a comment below!