LAFC face tough challenge ahead after losing players to international duty

LAFC (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LAFC (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Four of LAFC’s players will not be available in the coming weeks due to international duty

The October international break has arrived but MLS will be moving forward with playing during the international schedule unlike the top leagues in Europe. For this reason, many clubs in MLS will be losing their star players to international duty. LAFC is among those hit hard by the international slate of matches as they will lose a total of four players to the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers. In addition to missing matches due to the qualifiers, the players will have to undergo a 10-day quarantine upon returning to their clubs which will further add to the total matches missed.

MLS Golden Boot leader Diego Rossi headlines the LAFC players on their way to play for their respective countries. Rossi will be joined by teammate Brian Rodriguez for Uruguay’s two upcoming fixtures. The other two players departing will be Ecuadorians Jose Cifuentes and Diego Palacios. LAFC have the most players out of any club in MLS headed to play for their countries this month. New York City FC and DC United also had four of their players selected for international duty but not all will be linking up with their national teams.

Offensive production could take a hit on LAFC

There’s no question Rossi has been one of the best offensive players in MLS this season. His 12 goals lead all players in the league and account for just over a third of LAFC’s goals so far in the regular season. As a result, losing him in the coming weeks will be a tough blow to their offense as he has been a consistent source of goals. They do have Bradley Wright-Phillips available and he will likely have to be their go-to player in the coming matches.

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Rodriguez’s absence will mean LAFC loses its leader in assists. The 20-year-old has been a key player when it comes to setting up goals and delivering that crucial final ball. He will be another massive loss for LAFC in the coming weeks. LAFC will have to turn to its young players such as Bryce Duke, Adrien Perez, Danny Musovski, and Christian Torres to help fill the void left by Rodriguez.

Left-back and midfielder absences

Palacios has been the go-to left-back for Bob Bradley this season. The 21-year-old has started in all but two regular-season matches. LAFC has struggled defensively this season and the absence of Palacios could make life even more difficult for their backline. Veteran Jordan Harvey will likely be the player to step in while Palacios is away.

In the midfield, LAFC will be losing Cifuentes who has primarily been used as a substitute but he has been in the starting XI recently due to the injury Eduard Atuesta sustained. Cifuentes gives LAFC much-needed depth in the midfield and will be another key loss to international duty.

In danger of missing the playoffs?

These absences could affect LAFC’s chances of reaching the postseason. They have eight regular-season matches remaining and have a four-point gap back to the San Jose Earthquakes who sit just outside the top eight. The possibility of not qualifying for the playoffs is still very much a concern.

LAFC will be without their star players when they take on the Seattle Sounders on Sunday. This was a key match in the Western Conference race as the Sounders currently top the table. If LAFC had their full roster available to them this could have been an opportunity for them to close the gap in the first place. However, this match is looking like it will be a difficult one to take even a point away from.

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All-in-all, this slate of matches will be crucial for the LAFC players tasked with stepping up in the absence of their teammates. If they can pick up a few victories in the next five matches they might just be able to continue on the path to the postseason. It’s going to be tough but they absolutely cannot afford to drop too many matches during this stretch of the season.