Hopefully you all had a wonderful day of turkey, filed with joy, happiness, love, family, friends and lots of black-and-gold, however you celebrated. As the World Cup continues to chug along this holiday season, we take a moment to once again begin turning the page on the 2022 season. This time, we need your help in deciding who from the LAFC defense is worthy of the Angels on Parade Defender on the Year honor!
While LAFC’s defense hasn't always been the greatest the last few years, one player has consistently been the foundation upon which this current iteration of the back-line was built on. That player is 28-year-old Jesus Murillo. Despite playing fewer league minutes this season compared to last, Murillo made an even bigger impact this time around. In just over 2,300 minutes he started 27 of his 29 matches, had 38 interceptions with an extra five added in during the playoffs and MLS Cup winning run. He also took a huge step in contributing to the attack, after not finding the scoresheet at all in 2021, this year Murillo scored two goals, served up three assists, and kept a very respectable 80% passing percentage. More importantly, were the countless moments the Colombian stifled attacks with his physical presence and tough play, often coming in with clutch, and more importantly clean, tackles in and around the box.
Ryan Hollingshead had perhaps one of the quietest, great seasons, that we have seen at LAFC. Granted, it’s hard enough for defenders to get the shine they deserve most years, but it's nearly impossible to stand out when you're on a team with Vela, Gareth Bale, and a handful of other world-renowned megastars and legends. However, despite not getting a lot of attention, Hollingshead did exactly what LAFC needed from him and then some in 2022.
Brought in as part of the ‘MLS experience’ group — the players LAFC brought in specifically to give them that added veteran presence as they went after their first MLS Cup — Hollingshead spent his previous eight MLS seasons with FC Dallas before donning the black-and-gold. In his first season with the club he started 22 of 30 featured matches, had 44 clearances, 35 interceptions, scored a whopping six goals — which ties his career best — and even added an assist for good measure. All of that in just over 1,900 league minutes played. Perhaps the best part of all is that not only did Hollingshead play a massive role in helping LAFC win their first-ever MLS Cup, but he also recently signed on for another three years, meaning we will see even more of this going forward. That alone is very exciting to think about.
I will admit, some people might find it unfair or odd that a goalkeeper is listed as a possible defender of the Year, but in a team-specific award poll, where else would they go? I suppose we could create a goalkeeper of the year poll, which considering how this year ended might actually be fun, but alas, I find this a lot more fitting. Who else defends the goal more, with more pressure at times, than the person sitting between the posts? By now, we all know that moment that undoubtedly catapulted Max into LAFC lore, but he was making critical plays all throughout the 2022 season.
Crepeau started all 36 of the matches he featured in, racking up 10 clean sheets, with 20 clearances, 34 catches, nine punches, and a 66% save success rate. LAFC finished with 38 goals allowed, putting them third best in the league.
After several years of a rotating door at goalkeeper at LAFC, Crepeau very much cemented his role as the new number one before playoffs even began. After what he did in the postseason, and then during the MLS Cup Final, only affirmed that to the rest of the league and any lingering doubters. Of course, the big question now is how will he return from injury? If he remains the same player not just talent wise, but maintains that “put it all on the line” mentality, then LAFC will be in safe hands for as long as he's their last resort at the back.
So, who do you think should take home the 2022 LAFC Defender of the Year award? Make sure to cast your vote and drop a comment below for that extra support for your choice!
2022 LAFC Defender of the Year
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