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LAFC 2021 Player Postmortem: Sebastien Ibeagha

Veteran defender joined up in a pinch.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Sebastien Ibeagha was a midseason reinforcement for LAFC in central defense. After Eddie Segura went down with a torn ACL, a devastating blow, LAFC moved quickly to retool, trading for Ibeagha from New York City FC for $150,000 in allocation money.

Based on the likely market and LAFC’s financial situation at that point in the season, it was a smart pickup. Ibeagha was a rotation center back at NYCFC — he started plenty but wasn’t usually considered first-choice, and so NYCFC were willing to part ways with the veteran.

So I think it’s worth calibrating Ibeagha’s historical level in this light. He can do a job, he’s solid, but not quite likely to get the All-Star berths and season-ending awards at MLS level.

From there, he was a pretty logical instant insertion into the lineup alongside Jesus David Murillo. Rotating with Murillo and breakout youngster Mamadou Fall, Ibeagha played pretty heavy minutes down the stretch of the regular season for the black-and-gold, with the team going 5W-5L-3D while he was on the field.

Here are Ibeagha’s statistics in 2021 with LAFC:

Sebastien Ibeagha 2021 LAFC Statistics

2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS 13 8 662 0 0 3 1 2 0

You could argue that Segura’s torn ACL may have been the difference that kept LAFC out of the playoffs. Obviously the season went deeper than that, but Segura is the toast of LAFC’s defense and losing him was killer.

And yet, LAFC tried to go without a veteran reserve for much of the season and it backfired. This is one of the toughest roles on a roster — a rotational central defender usually has some holes in their game, that’s why they aren’t starting, and yet they can usually do a job anyway — and this is what Ibeagha was thrust into. Essentially the new Dejan Jakovic, I think he was an upgrade over Jakovic and yet, he wasn’t Segura. We kind of figured that anyway.

Ibeagha’s contract option for 2022 has been picked up by LAFC, and I think it makes sense. He’s only 29, he should provide cover at a critical position, and if the next manager prioritizes defensive solidity a bit more, it may help the whole unit and the individual players perform better. It’s pretty hard to be less defensive-minded than Bob Bradley at LAFC, so most likely we should look forward to a defensive upgrade, and that would benefit the likes of Ibeagha.

So we knew what LAFC were getting with Ibeagha, and his aerial prowess in particular was beneficial to the team once he arrived. A rotational/reserve center back is an unheralded role, but an important one, and Ibeagha nails it pretty well overall.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.