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2022 Season Preview: LAFC

Can Steve Cherundolo recapture the Hollywood magic?

Sporting Kansas City v Los Angeles FC Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images

One of the biggest stories of the offseason was Bob Bradley’s departure from LAFC to Toronto FC. Bradley was the inaugural coach for LAFC and led them to a (then) record 72 points in 2019, which was good enough for a Supporter’s Shield. Bradley wasn’t able to navigate LAFC to a MLS Cup trophy though, and after missing the playoffs in 2021, he and the club parted ways. In his place, former USMNT player, Steve Cherundolo, took over. Cherundolo spent years in Germany coaching at the youth levels and as an assistant. Last year, he guided the Las Vegas Lights to a 6-3-23 record in the USL Championship.

So where do LAFC stand headed into 2022?

Key Additions

Buckle in. This is going to take a while.

The biggest acquisition for LAFC this offseason was the blockbuster trade with Colorado for Kellyn Acosta. Acosta was exceptional for Colorado in the midfield as both an 8 and a 6. His play earned him a number of USMNT caps where he also impressed. The question is where Cherundolo slots him into LAFC’s formation and what formation will they play? Acosta could play as a box to box midfielder alongside Ilie, or he could be Ilie’s main competition at the 6.

Speaking of Ilie... our old friend has found new friends in Hollywoodland. There’s a strong chance Ilie will be the starting defensive midfielder for LAFC when the season opens up. We all know his passing range is exceptional and that he’s a very cerebral player. Depending on how Cherundolo sets the squad up, Ilie’s weakness (lack of pace) could be easily covered up and lead to a great season for the Catalonian midfielder. I’ll be honest, seeing Ilie in a different kit hurts.

Over their time in MLS, the biggest weakness in LAFC’s roster has been goalkeeper. No longer after another massive intra-league trade with Vancouver Whitecaps FC for Canadian international, Maxime Crepeau. This is a massive upgrade and will likely solve a persistent roster problem.

LAFC sent $600,000 in GAM to Atlanta United in exchange for defender, Franco Escobar. Escobar was a key piece of the Atlanta machine during his first two seasons in the league before going back to Argentina last year on loan. He was limited to seven games due to injury but if he can regain the form he showed in Atlanta, LA’s backline just got a big boost,

The backline reboot wasn’t complete with Escobar. LAFC and Dallas swapped left backs, with LA sending Marco Farfan to Texas and Ryan Hollingshead going to LA. Hollingshead has arguably been the best left back in the league for the last few seasons. He’s scored 18 goals and gotten 15 assists over 193 appearances for Dallas.

Finally, Canadian international and centerback, Doniel Henry, joins LAFC after two years in the Korean K-League. Henry is currently part of the Canadian national team that leads CONCACAF in World Cup qualifying. He’ll add competition to Eddie Segura and Mamadou Fall for a starting spot.

Key Departures

Defensive midfielder, Eduard Atuesta, was transferred to Brazilian giants Palmeiras on a multi-million dollar deal. Atuesta has been a staple of the LAFC midfield using his passing range and aggressive tackling to spring counter-attacks for Carlos Vela.

Diego Rossi left at the end of the summer 2021 transfer window to play for Fenerbache in Turkey. Fenerbache just announced that they extended his loan through the end of the 21-22 campaign with an option to buy.

Fullbacks Marco Farfan and Tristan Blackmon both exited the club. Farfan through a trade and Blackmon through the expansion draft. Farfan made 29 appearances last year with zero goals or assists. Blackmon made 21 appearances with 1 goal and no assists.

2022 Season Outlook

LAFC has had one of the most talented rosters since they joined the league. The quality has rarely been in doubt, but they’ve failed to follow up on the record setting campaign of 2019. With a new manager and a healthy roster rebuild, LAFC hope to shoot back up the table and challenge for first in the Western Conference. The biggest question is how Cherundolo sets the team up and what Carlos Vela’s contribution will be. When healthy and invested, Vela is one of the premier players in the league. However, over the last two season he’s been in and out of the lineup due to health issues.

My guess? LAFC finish 2nd and challenge Seattle all season.

Where do you think Will Ferrell’s club ends up this year?