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LAFC 2022 Player Postmortem: Francisco Ginella

Youngster seemed to hit a wall.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Francisco Ginella returned for his third season with LAFC in 2022, and with Eduard Atuesta out of the picture, the player who appeared to have been signed as his successor had his best chance yet to become a regular in the black-and-gold lineup.

However, under new head coach Steve Cherundolo, and an offseason roster makeover that included the key acquisition of Ilie Sanchez, Ginella receded from view and ended up departing midseason on loan.

I understand why Cherundolo didn’t immediately give Ginella starter’s minutes. After a stunning debut in 2020, the Uruguayan may have been one of the players to get hit hardest by the break in play necessitated by the pandemic, losing his rhythm and never really getting it all the way back. While he set career highs that year in minutes played, 2021 was a difficult season for him, as Jose Cifuentes moved ahead of him on the depth chart and Ginella did not seem to be taking leaps forward in his game like Atuesta had a couple years earlier.

But with Sanchez looking cooked by the end of his tenure with Sporting Kansas City, his signing wasn’t guaranteed to be a success, and I suspect Ginella was backup in case the Catalan didn’t light the world on fire with LAFC. Unfortunately for Pancho, Sanchez did, and another path to regular playing time closed.

Here are Ginella’s stats with LAFC in 2022:

Francisco Ginella 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 15 5 439 0 1 5 0 2 0
U.S. Open Cup 3 1 120 0 0 1 1 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 18 6 559 0 1 6 1 2 0

With LAFC making major changes to the roster midseason, they sent Ginella on loan to Uruguayan powerhouse Nacional for 12 months. It was a smart decision for all, with Ginella getting a chance to play elsewhere and LAFC giving him a change of scenery to see if he could look like the cultured, composed midfielder he did when he first arrived again. I do wonder about the 12-month length of the loan, whether that was a tacit acknowledgment that Ginella’s not going to be in LAFC’s plans, or if Nacional pushed for a year-long deal. And to be fair, he’s not played a ton for Nacional, either, making nine appearances with three starts in the league so far.

It’s possible his ceiling may be as a rotational midfielder, a player who can put in a shift but maybe won’t become the next jewel of a midfield, at least at MLS level. He’s turning 24 in January, so there’s still time for growth, but based on a sample size of more than 50 games with LAFC, it may be unfair to expect a big step forward in his game.

So Ginella won’t be with LAFC to begin the 2023 season, but he remains under contract and looks like he could be back in the summer. If and when that happens, we’ll see how he fits in. I’ve been a big fan of Ginella in the past, and would like to see him really establish himself, but time will tell if that happens with the black-and-gold.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.