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LAFC 2022 Player Postmortem: Danny Trejo

Attacker got that hard-earned MLS contract.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Seattle Sounders FC Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

After an injury-plagued rookie season with Las Vegas Lights FC in 2021, Danny Trejo returned this year looking to really prove himself. And he did, becoming a sparkling player at USL Championship level and leveraging that into an MLS contract with LAFC.

Trejo began the season with Las Vegas and hit the ground running. The Cal State Northridge product scored six goals and four assists in his first seven USL Championship appearances of the season, becoming Lights FC’s first-ever league Player of the Month in the process.

While he didn’t continue that prodigious pace, Trejo did end up playing most of the season with Las Vegas, finishing with 14 goals, tied for 11th in the league, and five assists in league play, a very good season. Meanwhile, he both teamed up with Cal Jennings to score a combined 25 goals for Lights FC, but also served as the focal point of Las Vegas’ attack, shouldering the burden for a young team that had their best-ever season in 2022.

From there, Trejo started getting temporary call-ups to LAFC in June, and made his debut in the away draw against Seattle that month.

Here are Trejo’s competitive stats with LAFC in 2022:

Danny Trejo 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 42 0 0 1 1 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 3 0 42 0 0 1 1 0 0

By far Trejo’s highlight play for LAFC in 2022 was his flick-on that set up Cristian Arango’s equalizer against the Sounders in his MLS debut.

I still think Trejo got the touch to put the ball right on Arango’s head and should have gotten the credit with an assist, but in our hearts we can consider that an assist. Regardless, he did play a role in setting up that goal, which given how narrowly LAFC won the Supporters’ Shield, led to a vital result for the black-and-gold.

Trejo didn’t play a lot with LAFC, and the other two games he featured in he entered late in losing efforts. That’s a tough spot, but he helped take some distance off the regular attackers’ legs, and again, in a successful season, every effort like that adds up over the course of the campaign. It may not have been glamorous but it was needed.

But given the offensive firepower LAFC had on display, between Carlos Vela, Brian Rodriguez, Denis Bouanga, Gareth Bale, Arango...the slots for young players were limited, and while Trejo did well to earn his MLS deal after exhausting the allowed temporary call-ups, the numbers game was never in his favor. So he played a role, but could not fully break through with the first team.

Trejo is out of contract and it appears will not be returning for LAFC in 2023. I hope he gets a look from another MLS team, I think his tenacity and skillset show he can find a role in this league and there are some teams that can use a versatile attacker like him.

But if that doesn’t come through, he’ll get a deal with a USL Championship team, no problem, and can probably not only be the team’s focal point in attack again, but potentially compete for league honors. It’s pretty clear he’s a good player at USL Championship level, and while at 24 he may be a bit of a tweener who bounces between the divisions, I think there’s a chance we really haven’t seen the best of him at professional level just yet.

I do think Trejo getting drafted by LAFC, not getting an MLS contract off the bat, having a tough rookie season, then coming back, killing it in year two and getting that first team deal was a great story. He’s an easy player to root for and I will continue to root for him as he hits the next chapter in his career.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.