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LAFC 2020 player postmortem: Mohamed El-Munir

Team player lost out in numbers game.

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

Mohamed El-Munir returned for his second season with LAFC in 2020. After being traded ahead of the 2019 season from Orlando City, I wondered if he was really a defender because he had looked so woeful with the Lions.

It turned out, it was the club, not him and he was a perfectly serviceable defender in MLS, although he was put in a tough spot from the start of his tenure with LAFC. That continued in 2020.

LAFC went three deep at left back again in 2020, with youngster Diego Palacios starting most of the season and ageless veteran Jordan Harvey a contingency plan who nevertheless limited El-Munir, the Libyan was often the odd man out and he had to wait for his turn, again.

Here are El-Munir’s statistics in 2020:

Mohamed El-Munir 2020 LAFC Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 12 4 596 1 1 11 2 2 0
MiB Knockouts 1 0 35 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 1 0 34 0 0 0 0 1 0
CCL 2 0 24 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 16 4 690 1 1 11 2 3 0

The biggest development in El-Munir’s season came towards the end of the season when he made his four starts. Early in the year, he was a sub option for Bob Bradley and came off the bench quite a bit, but in those four starts, with LAFC absolutely desperate for bodies at right back, El-Munir got the assignment and played well in a pinch. Considering he had been very much a left-sided player prior to that, getting out there and playing as an inverted fullback turned out to be a good experiment under duress, and El-Munir showed his defensive chops once again.

Still, El-Munir is only 28, but I have suspected he was brought in by LAFC as an insurance policy, if Harvey started creaking badly or if the Palacios transfer fell through. When the other two were available and presumably ahead of him on the depth chart, he really seemed like he was not long for the club, even if he did play well while on the field.

I suspect LAFC would have been more tempted to bring the player back if he wasn’t an international, but roster rules probably helped force their hand. He’s cleared waivers in MLS and El-Munir has been linked to a move to Tunisian power Esperance ST, but I don’t believe he’s signed there yet, so I’m not sure if that’s happening or not. There had been rumors that El-Munir was interested in moving closer to home, so maybe he was ready to move on as well.

So that appears to end El-Munir’s stint with LAFC. Again, his sample size overall is pretty small, and I think he’s uncommonly good as a bench option at left back, although most teams don’t routinely sub out at that position. He’s also a good two-way player, something we never got to really see because El-Munir barely got to start at his main position. And for me personally, he definitely showed he could defend, yes, and found redemption after a rough stint in Orlando made him look like he was out of position. But he wasn’t!

Remember, this is the guy who literally sacrificed his face to Zlatan, so he deserves real props. Let’s end with his final goal in the black-and-gold, and happy trails to Mohamed.

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