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Does LAFC need more vocal leadership on the field?

Considering an intangible reason for the slump.

MLS: New York City FC at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no single formula to build a successful team in this sport. That part is obvious — what is less obvious is how to actually build the successful team.

For LAFC, the success has been found, to a point — a Supporters’ Shield, a trip to the Concacaf Champions League final on the first try — but they’re in a slump at the moment.

That slump has been present all of this young season, and perhaps the culprit is as simple as Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela being hurt to start the campaign and once both are fully back in form and rhythm, many of the issues will dissipate. Perhaps.

But what if one of the persistent issues for the club is more intangible, in terms of on-field vocal leadership.

Vela has been LAFC captain since 2019, and while he shows far more fire than he’s previously shown in his career, the marksman is not a “rah, rah!” leader during games. He leads by example, often extremely well, and his ability to take over games himself means he’s doing plenty of work, no question.

And LAFC did address the vocal leadership question late last season, with the addition of Jesus David Murillo. The center back also brings experience and a good aerial presence to his game, but what’s most apparent is his literal yelling on the field during games. Directing teammates, rallying them, whatever it takes.

I think Murillo hasn’t been quite as sharp to start this season, and I wonder if LAFC could still use another on-field general, or at least a player who can step in to boss his teammates, respectfully, at times, to encourage, to emphasize focus at the tough moments.

LAFC seems to have been trying to build this ethos within a very talented team, but a certain passivity seems to filter through the group at times on the field. Pablo Sisniega isn’t as chatty as other goalkeepers around, and you don’t see the midfielders yelling at the team to get their heads in the game. The same for the attackers — aside from what I’ve already mentioned about Vela, Rossi has the trademark garra charrua or essentially, never say die attitude held by Uruguayans, but he’s a silent assassin, waiting for his moment to strike, literally, and he does it with aplomb. None of the other defenders look like they’ll be sharing the vocal leadership mantle anytime soon.

Again, Murillo has brought some leadership onto the field, but I wonder if more of that could help them stop dropping points so habitually. Ultimately, a player who yells at and for his teammates may not totally halt all the late breakdowns that lead to points dropped in and of itself, but it may be a component of the team to address that could have a bigger benefit than we may realize.

I’m not saying adding another vocal leader will fix all the problems at once, and any addition in this regard would still need to be playing at a high level, obviously, but for a team looking for answers during this current break in play, I think it’s an element of team building worth considering when the transfer window opens again in a matter of weeks.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.