Here we are again. It wasn't but five months ago I was waxing poetic about LAFC defender Mamadou Fall. Yet, here we are, once again in awe of just how well he’s not only settled in at LAFC, but how he’s risen to a player the club can truly depend on week in and week out.
Since his arrival in 2021, the 19-year-old defender has cemented his place on defense. He’s started 19 of his 22 appearances for LAFC, bringing a layer of physicality the team hadn't seen in some time. While his ability to stonewall attacks as a defender were evident immediately, it was his rapid success in attack that caught the attention of anyone watching. In particular, being an aerial threat when the team got near the goal.
Fall’s first-ever goal, as well as the second goal he scored that same match, were both headers off set-pieces. Fast forward to 2022, and it appears he's added yet another dimension to his ever evolving game, being a goal-scoring threat, period. When LAFC hosted the Portland Timbers last week Fall got his first goal of the season, and it wasn't via set piece. Instead, the defender found himself sitting in front of goal, like your typical poaching forward, and tapped in a perfect ball into the box from forward Brian Rodríguez.
Sure, this was right at the end of the match, with the team down a goal, throwing everything at a tough Portland side, but the defenders under new head coach Steve Cherundolo have seemingly been encouraged to get involved in attack a bit when safe to do so. While the pass was perfect, the finish was pure. The goal saved the team from suffering their first loss of the season, and gave them a point for their efforts.
He followed that up the next week, the team's most recent match, with a full 90-minute performance in an 2-0 clean sheet win, on the road, against Inter Miami. You often hear in sports of players who bring certain intangibles, he's one of them. Aside from the stat-sheet numbers, the energy, hunger, pure desire to be the best that he brings has started to seep into the roots of the club and spread throughout the team. There’s a renewed sense of fight so far this season. In a lot of ways, Fall is like that player in FIFA who gets rated 65, but has. a potential of 96, so after a season they've become the lynchpin for your success. That’s Mamadou.
The season is still young, though. Running down a list of stats after three matches seems unnecessary in this circumstance. If you really want to understand Fall's impact just turn on a game. You'll undoubtedly see No. 5 all over your screen, disrupting the attack, putting in crunching tackles, and saving the day at the last possible moment. If you’re lucky, you might even see a goal or two.
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