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LAFC 2020 player postmortem: Pablo Sisniega

Goalkeeper remained part-time starter.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Pablo Sisniega returned for his second season with LAFC in 2020, and the goalkeeper’s season followed some of the same patterns as his first.

Notably, Sisniega started strong when he entered in place of starter Tyler Miller in 2019, before Miller’s return from international duty (where he unfortunately didn’t play a minute) meant Sisniega returned temporarily to No. 2.

But Miller was out of form, so Sisniega came back, but he also faltered once or twice along the way. Together, the duo still delivered LAFC their first trophy, the Supporters’ Shield, but Miller’s trade to Minnesota ahead of the 2020 season meant Sisniega maybe had a shot to play some more, or maybe a year of being a pure backup.

When Kenneth Vermeer was signed from the Netherlands, it initially looked like the latter case for Sisniega, the youngster penciled in to be the backup and work on his development for a possible starter role in a year or two.

But Vermeer’s inconsistency in adjusting to MLS, plus LAFC’s struggles in general defensively putting far more pressure on the goalkeeper, meant that the No. 1 slot was a bit of a hot potato.

Here are Sisniega’s stats in 2020:

Pablo Sisniega 2020 LAFC Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 14 14 1,260 35 23 1.64 2 50 60 1 0
MiB Knockouts 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 1 1 90 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 0
CCL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 15 15 1,350 35 26 1.73 2 47 57 1 0

Sisniega got a brief look at the MLS is Back Tournament group stage, and then he took over as starter down the homestretch of the regular season, and honestly looking the better of the two goalkeepers over the course of the season. Statistically, it wasn’t stellar, because LAFC had a penchant of shipping goals, but Sisniega showed improvement in his distribution — the biggest mark on his game in 2019. He also is an athletic shotstopper, like Vermeer, and while he didn’t take the starter spot once and for all, he got a good long run for LAFC.

In fact, Sisniega had to come out at the end of the regular season, for reasons that remain a bit hazy, whether he was actually injured or part of the coronavirus outbreak on the team, but Bob Bradley gave him the start in the playoffs against the Seattle Sounders. Unfortunately, it was another short run in the playoffs, and that was that for Sisniega’s season, with Vermeer getting the nod in the Concacaf Champions League run to wrap up the season.

What does this mean for 2021? Truly who knows. I sincerely believe Bradley doesn’t have a set starter in mind and is waiting for Sisniega or Vermeer to wrestle the No. 1 slot once and for all. Will Sisniega manage it? Hard to say. I do think he could become a full-time starter, although many fans and some pundits don’t see it. To me, Sisniega has improved year over year and before he joined LAFC he’d never played in a first-team game in his career. If anything, his trajectory so far has been rather meteoric.

I think if he shows more improvement this season, he could get the starter’s mantle for the season. If not, it’ll be a timeshare. But Bradley has been subtly hinting that Sisniega may get the first crack this year, and we’ll see what he can do with it. Perhaps the part-time starter can leverage it into a full-time role in the coming season.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.