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LAFC 2022 Player Postmortem: Cal Jennings

Depth forward still got on the board.

MLS: Leagues Cup Showcase-America vs Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Cal Jennings returned for his second season with LAFC in 2022. The Central Florida product joined in 2021 after a good season in the USL Championship with Memphis 901 FC, and Bob Bradley was on the prowl for the next diamond in the rough from that circuit.

After seeing sparse playing time with the first team last year, Jennings bossed at the USL Championship level again with Las Vegas Lights FC, and this year, it was essentially the same story.

Here are Jennings’ competitive stats with LAFC in 2022:

Cal Jennings LAFC 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 3 0 17 0 0 0 0 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 2 0 34 1 0 1 1 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 5 0 51 1 0 1 1 0 0

So he played a little less than half the total minutes this year under Steve Cherundolo as he did in 2021 with Bradley, but he still scored his first competitive goal for the black-and-gold in 2022 in the U.S. Open Cup win over Orange County SC:

Capping off a 15-pass sequence? He showed he can hang with this squad.

But most of Jennings’ playing time was with Lights FC and he had another terrific season. He scored 11 goals and added six primary assists, matching his goals total from 2021 with Lights FC and posting a career high in assists. In the process, he’s become the all-time top scorer in Lights FC history, and he finished just outside the Top 20 for scoring in the league, teaming up with Danny Trejo to notch 25 league goals this year for Las Vegas.

It’s clear that Jennings can succeed at the USL Championship level, and I think he can be very successful at that level. Frankly, if he signs with a team in the league and isn’t doing double duty with an MLS team, he has the capability to contend for the league’s Golden Boot, no question about it.

At the same time, he may be very much a “tweener,” a player who can excel at the 2nd division but wants to really prove himself in the top flight. I think he was a casualty of the staggering talent on LAFC’s roster — Carlos Vela, Denis Bouanga, Cristian Arango, Brian Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Cristian Tello are going to get more run than him if they’re available and healthy, period. Beyond that, there was a bit of room for the younger and depth options, and Jennings ended up being in a contest with Danny Musovski and Kwadwo Opoku for first team playing time this year. In the end, Opoku earned that time, Musovski was traded, and Jennings pretty much was blocked from featuring, especially after LAFC’s spending spree in the summer.

Jennings is out of contract with LAFC and won’t be coming back in 2023. I think it’s possible he could get a training camp invitation from another MLS team, and another chance to prove himself at this level, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets a contract. But in contrast to USL Championship, I think his ceiling is to be a rotational forward at MLS level, scoring around five goals. There’s a lot of teams that could really use a player like that, and frankly LAFC are one of a few that probably don’t.

So we’ll see what happens from here. I think Jennings can show more and I’ll be rooting for him. But I’ll be intrigued to see the trajectory of his career from here, we’ll see.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.