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LAFC 2021 Player Postmortem: Mamadou Fall

Youngster looks like real deal.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

In a season where LAFC struggled badly in general and especially defensively, Mamadou Fall cut against the grain and was the team’s breakout player of 2021.

Signed in June to his first pro contract, the then-18 year old looked like he was going to follow a similar path to Mohamed Traore, his compatriot and Montverde Academy teammate — getting signed, then stashed and sent on loan to Las Vegas Lights FC. That did happen, with Fall featuring in eight Lights FC games in his first nine pro appearances, the ninth a cameo off the bench for his first MLS appearance.

But when LAFC started dealing with injury issues in August, knocks for Jesus David Murillo and the ACL tear for Eddie Segura, Fall was pressed into action and he started nearly every game the rest of the season.

Here were Fall’s stats with LAFC in 2021:

Mamadou Fall 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 19 16 1,509 4 0 15 6 1 0

Obviously, with LAFC missing the playoffs for the first time, the defense being a sieve all too often and Segura out the last few months of the campaign, how good was Fall, really? Aside from some goals and fun highlights, was he really the real deal?

Actually, he looked amazing, according to the advanced stats compiled by FBref.com. In comparing his performance in MLS to other center backs in 2021, he was absolutely, stunningly elite in nearly every category, and he played a good chunk of minutes to validate the sample size.

(If you can’t see the table, you can find it on Fall’s FBref.com player page).

Aside from clearances and his woeful pass completion rate, these are incredible advanced stats. And remember, LAFC were at best inconsistent, and at worst bad, while Fall was playing.

On top of this, Fall was a surprise scoring option, managing a tidy four goals, which was the top mark among center backs in MLS in 2021, even though he played basically half a season. Obviously, I wouldn’t count on a regular goal haul from a central defender unless they’re the designated penalty taker (none of Fall’s goals were PKs, of course), and this production could be a fluke, but if Fall becomes an elite defender who can also score, well he’s going to be going places.

The big question is whether Fall can replicate the fantastic start to his pro career and keep building on a promising start. In amid the tense final weeks of the campaign and the ultimate disappointment, lavishing this much praise on a rookie defender may seem premature. Time will tell. But I’m not the only person who thinks Fall may be a once in a quarter-century talent that his first pro minutes indicated.

Fall is under contract for 2022 to LAFC, and they’re going to want to sign him to an extension ASAP unless they want to sell him in the January transfer window. With Segura likely to miss the start of the season as he rehabs from the ACL injury, Fall looks like an automatic start, and frankly he’s at the point where he seems to be pushing Murillo and Segura to start regardless already. If this isn’t a flash in the pan, if he continues to grow in all aspects and builds on his prodigious talent, he could be an absolute star in the making. In other words, if he takes care of his end of the bargain, it will be up to LAFC to not eff it up, in the words of RuPaul. And if that happens, he’ll be a wonderful player indeed.

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