The 2022 season couldn't have gone any better for LAFC. They were able to lock down Carlos Vela to an extension, saw continued improvement from an already prolific goalscorer in Chicho Arango, they finally made it to their first-ever MLS Cup Final and then went on to win the whole damn thing. All while staying atop the Western Conference for the duration of the season and only falling to second in the league overall a few times. This wasn’t a team a destiny, but rather a team that finally took hold and controlled their destiny the way many knew they could. Now, however, we must close the book on all and focus on doing it all again in 2023. First though, let's go over the results for the 2022 LAFC season awards!
2022 Breakout Player of the Year
This should come as no surprise and we couldn't be more thrilled. Matter of fact, this one wasn’t even close. With 68% of the votes, you agree, Mahala Opoku was the breakout player for the 2022 season. His ability was obvious from the start, so much so, we ran a story back in March talking about how Mahala was set to become the newest sensation in the black-and-gold. Even with that, his meteoric rise this year has been a joy to watch. Not only is he a player who can dribble past defenders, find his own shots and then convert them, but he himself plays with so much joy that its infectious. His teammates speak highly of him, as do the coaching staff, and at just 21-years-old, he hasn't even begun to scratch the surface of his abilities. The biggest question for him going into 2023, is what will his playing time look like? He has more than earned a chance at breaking into the Starting XI, but when you're behind Gareth Bale, Carlos Vela, and a Chicho Arango who doesn't understand the concept of not scoring tons of goals, it makes it that much harder.
2022 Defender of the Year
With 64% of the votes, The ‘Stache takes this one. Ryan Hollingshead was one of the new arrivals amongst that group of “experienced MLS veterans” that joined LAFC in the offseason. A move that proved more than correct, as Hollingshead not only settled in to contribute in season one, but also stepped up as a leader on the squad. His presence was a key reason why this team lifted its first MLS Cup, and after signing a three-year extension this offseason, he could very well be the reason they lift a couple more trophies before he departs.
This could very well be one of those, ‘passing of the torch’ type of seasons. While incredibly productive this year, we saw Carlos Vela take a step back and play the role of support more often than not this season. Deferring to the newest goalscoring king, Chicho Arango. Since his arrival, nobody has scored more goals in MLS, and during the team's MLS Cup-winning run, Arango scored the game-winner to beat Galaxy in the Conference Semifinals, then scored again against Austin FC in the Conference Finals. He finished with 18 goals in total in 2022, and won this poll with 65% of the vote. Vela may still be El Rey, but in 2022 Arango cemented himself as ‘the man’ for the black-and-gold.
There you have it. Three very clear winners in their respective categories. Three incredibly talented players, who have already been locked in for 2023 and beyond, meaning we will see if they can improve on their outstanding 2022 seasons, next year. We here at Angels on Parade would like to thank all of you readers for supporting, and we wish you all a very happy and safe New Years! See you all in 2023!