Tristan Blackmon is the right back of LAFC’s future. Or maybe now. Or maybe he’s the center back of the future. Or maybe now.
At any rate, the defender has grown in leaps and bounds so far in his pro career, to the point that LAFC have touted his skills at two positions on the backline. After a season in which he was the starter at right back when healthy, Blackmon enters preseason 2021 looking to fit in anywhere he’s needed, he says.
“That’s what my career is based on so far, being available to play in different positions,” Blackmon told reporters during LAFC media availability Monday. “Obviously, you have to try to be your best at each and I’ve tried to really hone in on the details for each. I think last year I had a good spell at right back for the end of the year in Concacaf. It’s just going in every day with an open mind, of being open to coaches, giving you things to work on every day and that goes for older guys as well as younger guys. So yeah it’s been important for me to be versatile and able to play those positions and I think whatever I end up playing, whatever is in the cards for me I’m not really focused on that and focus on being present in each moment and trying to do the best I can.”
Blackmon was stellar for LAFC in the club’s run to the Concacaf Champions League final in December, and he admitted he felt he needed to step his game up after a difficult regular season.
“I was going through struggles throughout the year, as an individual playing with the team I wasn’t doing well,” he said. “My standard was low, and I knew that going into the Champions League, at the end of the year, we really wanted to go for that trophy and I needed to be at my best. It was a mental thing for me, I had to turn it on. I hadn’t been good enough throughout the year. And I wanted to end on a good note, thankfully I had some good performances obviously still things to work on, but I was happy with the way I handled myself, as well as the team in that tournament.”
Blackmon now has some cover at right back, if he will be a right back moving forward, with the offseason signing of Korean international Kim Moon-hwan. Rather than fear his place in the lineup may be under threat, Blackmon enthusiastically welcomed the competition.
“Oh it’s part of the game. You always want good players on your team. So, no it’s important for us to get good guys and it goes back to the question earlier, internal competition between the group. That’s what makes players the best going into the weekend, into matches, so I’m excited. It’s gonna be good competition throughout this entire year, so I’m looking forward to it,” Blackmon explained.
The year got off to a bumpy start for Blackmon, who received his first call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team for the annual January training camp, but a head injury meant he had to depart the camp before the friendly against Trinidad & Tobago, meaning Blackmon couldn’t get his first cap.
In spite of that, Blackmon was still energized by his experience with the USMNT.
“It was a great experience. First time getting called up. Got to know the training staff, the coaching staff and players there. Overall it was a good experience. Obviously it’s a bummer that I wasn’t able to follow through and had to come home for a bit before they played their match, but I had a great experience. Different style of play with the national team, so I got to experience that, being in some different positions,” he said.
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