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LAFC 2021 Player Postmortem: Jamal Blackman

English GK a late addition to black-and-gold roster.

Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles FC Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images

Jamal Blackman was a surprise addition to LAFC’s roster in 2021. While the club carried just two goalkeepers most of the season, it seemed strange to suddenly add a goalkeeper on an international slot in September like Blackman.

A longtime contractee at Chelsea who never made a first-team appearance, Blackman had good size, at 28 was older than LAFC’s other GKs without being ancient, and frankly the other two options had not necessarily locked down the No. 1 slot themselves.

Looking to Carson and seeing Jonathan Bond — a goalkeeper with a pretty similar profile to Blackman — succeed, perhaps LAFC thought their addition would be a similar boost and become the starter of now and beyond. I’m not saying they explicitly looked at Bond and sought to get their own, but this gambit does work sometimes.

I wasn’t sure exactly how Blackman would fit into the roster, since he was joining the club so late in the season, with a playoff chase well underway, but Bob Bradley basically handed the keys over to him, so he was the starter to close out the campaign.

Here are Blackman’s stats with LAFC in 2021:

Jamal Blackman 2021 LAFC Statistics

2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards Red Cards
2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS 8 8 720 21 13 1.62 1 37.5 61.8 0 0

LAFC were 3W-2L-3D with Blackman, which isn’t too bad, except one of those losses was the season-ending thrashing they endured at the Colorado Rapids, which put a truly bitter capper on the year.

Statistically, Blackman was the best (relatively speaking) of LAFC’s goalkeeper corps in most categories, and he was able to pull off a spectacular save from time to time, but he also didn’t really inspire confidence as the best option to start. The number of times he seemed rooted to his spot in no man’s land, watching a ball sail over his head and clang off the post or just miss the goal, seemed numerous. Goalkeeping is a very technical position, obviously, and he seemed to have a good handle on those elements. As far as vocal leadership and the projection of “I’ve got this” confidence? I didn’t see it at all, although aside from a handful of games with Tomas Romero we barely saw it at all in 2021 from any goalkeeper.

Blackman was not retained by LAFC for 2022, and while they could renegotiate and bring him back, initial signs are they won’t be doing that. I think that makes sense. He was at best a marginal improvement over the other goalkeepers on the roster, and the churn of the season really made it easy to see that LAFC suffered from having “too many cooks” in the back. Goalkeeping was far from the only position that struggled collectively for the black-and-gold, and again, I think Blackman could make a timely save. But to me, given his price point and production, it just didn’t seem to add up that he was such an upgrade at the position to keep him around long-term, and it looks like his LAFC tenure will be short. Best of luck to him moving forward.

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