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LAFC 2022 Player Postmortem: Kim Moon-hwan

A game before he hit the road.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Inter Miami CF Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Moon-hwan returned for his second season with LAFC in 2022, but his stay was ultimately short-lived.

The South Korean international had been a bright spot in a difficult 2021 season for the black-and-gold, as his skill and footwork in the attack from a right back position led to several highlight reel moments and a surprising level of chemistry, on and off the field, with Carlos Vela.

LAFC reloaded ahead of the 2022 season and with head coach (and former right back) Steve Cherundolo now in charge. Franco Escobar joined up, as did Ryan Hollingshead, and while LAFC previously had a terrible year in 2020 where injuries meant right back was a consistent sore spot for the team, it also seemed like potential overkill to have three starting-caliber right backs on the roster.

In the end, Kim made one appearance, in LAFC’s third game, the road win over Inter Miami, and a few days later, he was transferred to K-League outfit Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Here are Kim’s stats with LAFC in 2022:

Kim Moon-hwan 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 1 1 79 0 0 0 0 1 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 1 1 79 0 0 0 0 1 0

In hindsight, it kind of all made sense. I don’t know if Kim initiated an exit first or if LAFC stockpiled players in his position before he asked to depart, but Kim’s exit came with his blessing. I think if it wasn’t a World Cup year, he may not have been as ready to leave. I think Los Angeles was a big challenge for him, on and off the field, but he really was solid in 2021 on the field, and in the times we spoke to him, he seemed genuinely interested in being here.

But towards the end of the 2021 season, Kim’s call-ups to South Korea were getting spotty, and I think he welcomed a return home in part so he could do his utmost to get his way back into the South Korean squad. Moving to Jeonbuk, one of the best teams in the league, meant he could have a good platform for a long audition for the World Cup team.

In the end, he made 28 league appearances (26 starts), so he was a regular, and he had a goal and two assists for Jeonbuk this season, as the club finished in 2nd place in the K-League and qualified for the Asian Champions League next year.

And in the end, the bet to go back to Korea worked for Kim, as he was indeed called up for the South Korea World Cup squad. The Taegeuk Warriors open their group slate on this very day against Uruguay, and we’ll see if Kim makes his World Cup debut in that game.

Ultimately, I’m a little sad Kim left LAFC, as I think his game is quite unlike any other right back’s in the league, but I think he did what was best for him and obviously LAFC had other good right backs and they won the double this year. Kim may have played a small part in this season, but he did, and I know I’ll always be rooting for him.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.