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LAFC begin Season Four with new faces, same mentality

The 2021 MLS Preseason kicked off yesterday as LAFC begin their preparations for season four. This is an article on what's ahead for LAFC.
LAFC 2021 season

Editorial – LAFC officially began preparations, for what they hope, is a big season four. The black and gold kicked off preseason training camp yesterday. While the club welcomed several new faces, they maintained the same high-level competitive mentality.

LAFC Begin Season Four With New Faces, Same Mentality

With the ‘expansion club’ tag shed, honeymoon period over, and a SCCL Finals appearance under their belt, LAFC look to cement themselves amongst the league’s elite. While the core of the squad is returning, there is one glaring absence, as well as some new faces welcomed.

LAFC Roster Round-Up

The biggest news this offseason was the departure of Uruguayan striker Brian Rodríguez. The 20-year-old was sent to UD Almería, Second Division Spain, on loan, with an option to make the move permanent. Speaking to media for the first time this season, head coach Bob Bradley touched on the move.

“We think that Brian is a big talent, we want him to continue to develop, and we felt that, in all ways, this was going to work for him,” he said. While Bradley avoided mention of the performance clause, it’s likely Rodríguez won’t return to Los Angeles.

LAFC were also active buyers this offseason, making several moves to bring in some much needed depth to fill out the squad. The most exciting arrival has been South Korean defender Kim Moon-Hwan. The 25-year-old right back comes to Los Angeles after an incredible spell playing in mostly in the Korean League 2, with the club Busan IPark. During his three years with the club he appeared in 108 matches, scored eight goals and helped his side gain promotion into Korean League 1 in 2020.

Spending The GAM

LAFC also made several deals to acquire new talent. Bringing in 22-year-old defender Marco Farfan, from Portland, in exchange for $300,00 General Allocation Money. The club also sent $50,000 of GAM to Philadelphia, in exchange for the Homegrown rights to goalkeeper Tomas Romero, whom they eventually signed to a contract. A whopping $500,00 in GAM, as well as a 2021 International Spot, and future considerations were sent to Real Salt Lake. As a result, forward Corey Baird joined the black and gold to bolster an already potent attack.

A familiar face has returned to the preseason training. Midfielder Raheem Edwards, who was selected by LAFC in the 2018 Expansion Draft was selected by LAFC again this year. Edwards was the lone pick for the black and gold in the 2020 Re-Entry draft. While labeled a midfielder, Edwards has plenty of experience playing all along the left side, from winger to left back. To steal a baseball term, he is simply, a left fielder.

Notable mentions for new arrivals include the entire 2020 MLS Super Draft class. Defender Chinenye Chidera “CC” Uche, as well as forwards Alvaro Quezada and Daniel Trejo. Given the recent success of LAFC’s Academy players, the Super Draft selections have an opportunity to secure roster spots.

What to Watch For: Preseason

The arrival of a new season brings with it renewed optimism. However, the expectations and aspirations are the same as before. With players healthy, depth filled in with talented new arrivals and a record-setting returning core, LAFC are built to compete. As a result, LAFC begin season four with Bradley making clear that players will earn their place.

The obvious storyline headed into preseason is the situation regarding Tristan Blackmon. The 24-year-old right back has had a productive career with Los Angeles, steadily improving each year. This offseason he received his first call-up to join USMNT at camp. However, a concussion forced his return before playing a match.

While the defender has seen improvements throughout his tenure in Los Angeles, he has also seen some inconsistencies. After a rough 2020 campaign, the acquisition of Kim Moon-Hwan was the direct result, throwing Blackmon’s starting place into question.

“I think it’s best when you have to fight every training session, every week for a starting position” Blackmon said. There has been some minor speculation of him moving to CB, to which he responded, “It’s been important for me to be versatile.”

However, after the success of the Eddie Segura and Jesús Murillo partnership, a move to central defense is unlikely. The battle for the right back spot should be an interesting one to keep an eye on as the preseason progresses.

The Last Word

THE MLS IS BACK! A new season, new storylines, new chaos. The 2021 MLS season is set to be an entertaining one, with new coaches entering the league and another new club taking the pitch. Let’s go!



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