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LAFC 2021 Player Postmortem: Diego Rossi

Thanks for the memories.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Diego Rossi had been as good as one could hope for through his first three seasons with LAFC. The team’s leading scorer across all competitions in 2018 and 2020, and the MLS Golden Boot winner in 2020, Rossi was not only a fantastic second scoring option next to Carlos Vela, he was at times a co-leading man in his own right. For LAFC to have two Golden Boot winners back-to-back, it’s been an embarrassment of riches.

And we saw a bit of the flipside in 2021. While Rossi was with the black-and-gold for a little over half a season, he wasn’t at his best, for the first time in his LAFC tenure. Whether he was looking to get a move abroad and he was distracted, or the injury to start the season lingered while he played through it, or something else, Rossi was not the automatic scorer he had been to that point in MLS. It was pretty weird, honestly.

Here are Rossi’s stats with LAFC in 2021:

Diego Rossi 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 18 1,655 6 1 63 24 2 0

Even with Rossi’s scoring rate dropping to a goal every three games or so, he ended up being LAFC’s second-leading scorer on the season, only Cristian Arango’s 14 goals outpacing him. Notably, Arango ended up being Rossi’s replacement, even though they briefly played together, and Arango was also present for only half a season.

So while he scored a handful of goals along the way, the big news for Rossi in 2021 was his loan move to Turkish giant Fenerbahçe. It appears the loan was a 12-month deal, although LAFC never announced the length of the loan period. However, LAFC are confident Fenerbahçe will pick up the purchase option after the loan, and have been shopping for a replacement Designated Player.

In Turkey, Rossi has played a little over 1,000 minutes, including time in the Europa League, although he hasn’t been playing as the main striker and somewhat surprisingly has more assists (6) than goals (2). That comes because he’s mostly been playing further back, as an attacking midfielder, instead of a forward or wide forward. He’s not an automatic starter, but he’s playing real minutes, so hopefully Fenerbahçe continue to like what they see and end up paying a transfer fee.

This move abroad has probably also helped his international prospects with Uruguay. Rossi, of course, was called up at the end of 2020, but an untimely positive COVID test when there was an outbreak at LAFC sunk his hopes of making his debut at senior level. New Uruguay manager Diego Alonso put Rossi on his first World Cup qualifier roster, so perhaps Rossi will finally get to make his bow for his country. Even with the incredible competition for the national team, especially in attack, he really seems like a player worthy of getting a look, so it will be nice to see him get a chance, finally.

Obviously, there’s always a chance Rossi’s permanent move could fall through, but it really looks like he’s done at LAFC. He’s second in scoring in club history, obviously he scored the first goal in club history, he’s picked up a slew of individual accolades, in addition to a Supporters’ Shield title, and his workrate and skill have been outstanding. Rossi was a killer young Designated Player, probably the best in MLS history, and it will be hard to find the next one.

Regardless, Rossi was a terrific player for LAFC, even if he went off the boil a bit in 2021, and he is missed. But he deserves to be on an even bigger stage, and he’s likely to always have a fan in me, and likely the rest of LAFC Nation.

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