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LAFC 2022 Player Postmortem: Franco Escobar

Right back provided needed upgrade.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Franco Escobar joined LAFC in 2022 after previously playing in two organizations: hometown side Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina, and Atlanta United. After falling out of Atlanta’s plans and going on loan in 2021, he returned to MLS with LAFC after they acquired his rights within the league.

LAFC were in desperate need of an answer at right back, and Escobar, having been a regular for Atlanta’s 2018 MLS Cup-winning side, had the experience of winning in this league. And while Escobar ultimately ended up in a timeshare with another starting-caliber right back, Ryan Hollingshead, the Argentine did well to help LAFC land the domestic double this season.

It’s probably for the best there were so many capable fullbacks, because Hollingshead played minutes early in the season at left back with Diego Palacios out, and then Escobar dealt with a concussion and a few other injuries during the season, but he still played a major role.

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

Franco Escobar 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 19 13 1,159 1 1 5 2 3 0
U.S. Open Cup 2 1 87 0 1 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 1 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 22 14 1,251 1 2 5 2 3 0

Escobar’s goal came as the late equalizer against...the Philadelphia Union, albeit in the regular season clash that ended 2-2.

The advanced stats for Escobar’s 2022 season were good. His Goals-added number for the year from ASA was +0.28, and his scouting report graph on FBref.com shows a fullback who has an all-round good game.

FBref.com

All in all, Escobar had a good season. He defends well, he can push up in attack and get an occasional goal, and he remains active in the passing game to help the game keep moving.

I think Escobar probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves in full because he ended up being the third of three fullbacks for the black-and-gold, a position that normally features two on the field at once. Palacios was the one left back, but with Hollingshead able to play on both sides, the Ecuadorian had his starting spot pretty much wrapped up, while Hollingshead, also in his first season with LAFC, had a career year. Again, Steve Cherundolo used a squad rotation policy that gave minutes to a lot of players, and Escobar played in more than half of the competitive games on the year, so he wasn’t unused by any measure. Plus with injuries, the other players were healthier on the whole and so they got more time. I think if Escobar had been healthier he would have played more, too.

But with Escobar out of contract right now, he may or may not come back to LAFC in 2023. The club said they were in discussions with him when they announced their initial roster decisions for next year, and I think they would like to have him back — a starting-caliber right back who is at worst rotational depth is a great place to be in, and the kind of luxury few MLS teams have. But I would not be absolutely shocked if the money doesn’t fit on both sides, or if LAFC decide they can move on from the Free Agent to make room to sign someone else and/or bring a homegrown player like Erik Dueñas into the fray to provide more traditional depth for the first team. It would be a risk, especially with LAFC playing in so many competitions next year, but champion teams usually see a surprise player or two depart in the offseason in MLS, and Escobar may end up being that player.

Having said all of that, all things being equal, I’d re-sign him. He’s still a good player with a good two-way game. But we’ll see what the future holds for Franco Escobar and if he’s going to stay in black-and-gold for 2023.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.