LAFC Season Preview: With a full year, what can Christian Ramirez do?

LAFC
LOS ANGELES, CA — AUGUST 15: (L-R) Steven Beitashour #3, Jordan Harvey #2, Christian Ramirez #12, Danilo Silva #6 and Benny Feilhaber #33 of Los Angeles FC celebrate Ramirez's first of two goals in the first half during the MLS match against Real Salt Lake at Banc of California Stadium on August 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. LAFC defeated Salt Lake 2-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Editorial (February 28, 2019) — Los Angeles FC entered the 2018 MLS season as the “new kids” of the league. However, this year, that title is being passed on from LAFC to FC Cincinnati.

With a year under their belt, LAFC is poised to pick up where they left off. Last year, in the club’s inaugural season, LAFC picked up a spot in the playoffs. The club finished the regular season with a 16-9-9 record, taking third place in the Western Conference. However, LAFC fell flat against Real Salt Lake in the club’s first-ever playoff match.

LAFC Season Preview: With a full year, what can Christian Ramirez do?

This year, head coach Bob Bradley is looking to bring his squad back to the playoffs — and possibly a seed or two higher in the Western Conference. Bradley has picked up a couple players this offseason, including Mohamed El-Munir from Orlando City SC.

Meanwhile, some players have left the newest Los Angeles based club. Laurent Ciman left the team in the middle of last season and has returned to MLS, signing with Toronto FC. Meanwhile, Marco Ureña went back to Costa Rica, signing with Liga Deportiva Alajuelense. Benny Felihaber is currently with the Colorado Rapids.

LAFC kick off their season against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET. The match will be held at the Banc of California Stadium. Before that, here are three questions LAFC fans — and the club itself — should ponder.

With a full year, what can Christian Ramirez do?

Minnesota was the home of Christian Ramirez since 2014.

A native of California, Ramirez spent almost five full seasons in Minnesota. He made 90 appearances for the club during the NASL days. When the team was promoted to MLS, he made 50 appearances for Minnesota United FC, scoring 21 goals.

However, Ramirez was traded during the middle of the season, heading back home to his native state. With LAFC, Ramirez made seven appearances, starting three matches, where he scored two goals. Because of his efforts, he even earned his first U.S. Men’s National Team call up and appearance under new head coach Gregg Berhalter this past January.

With a full year in an LAFC uniform, all eyes should be on Ramirez. The striker is going to be paired up with one of the best attacking players to come to MLS: Carlos Vela. While the two might be rivals internationally — Vela features for the Mexican National Team — the two are going to need to find a chemistry quick. A pair like Vela and Ramirez can prove to be dangerous for LAFC — and opposition, too.

The pairing between Vela and Ureña didn’t work. It’s up to both players to make this new partnership count under coach Bradley’s formations.

Will Eddie Segura blend well with Zimmerman?

Walker Zimmerman was a force to be reckoned with last season. However, it was hard to find a centerback to pair well with the former FC Dallas man.

This season, Eddie Segura will look to be that perfect partner. On loan from Atlético Huila where he made 77 appearances, Segura is a young centerback with plenty of quality. He’s only 22-years-old, but the Colombian has been playing professional soccer since 2013. He has success in his home nation. Can that carry over to the United States?

Segura is on loan this season, with his loan extending for six months. However, there is an option to make a permanent deal. With Ciman’s midseason departure, there were too many question marks surrounding a centerback duo. This is a perfect opportunity for a young player to make his mark in the league.

Give Segura and Zimmerman a couple matches to blend together. However, the two need to be on the same page quick or LAFC will be down the rabbit hole.

Will Mark-Anthony Kaye be an elite player?

Making the jump from the USL to MLS didn’t seem to be much of a difficulty for Mark-Anthony Kaye.

The Toronto, Canada, native began his senior career with Toronto FC II in the USL, making 22 appearances in 2015. However, in 2016, Kaye made the move to Louisville City FC. He remained in Kentucky for two seasons, making 43 appearances and scoring five goals. Kaye was part of the 2017 USL championship-winning team.

Because of his successes, he was scouted by Bradley.

He joined LAFC for the club’s first season and got right to work. In his 20 appearances he made starts, and he scored two goals. He recorded over 2,000 minutes of action for the new MLS club. Meanwhile, he showed talent as a playmaker, garnering five assists.

In preseason matches, Kaye has been starting matches in the right midfield. He’s right underneath Carlos Vela and normally part of a midfield that also includes Eduard Atuesta and Lee Nguyen.

It’ll be interesting to see if Kaye has a sophomore slump in the MLS or he build his numbers up. With three talented strikers in front of him, don’t expect Kaye to be scoring dozens of goals. He’ll be a big-time assister, helping those strikers in front of him.

Last Word: LAFC wins the whole thing

In our recent Last Word on Soccer podcast, I predicted that LAFC would win the entire MLS. After a hot start in 2018, the club can follow in the footsteps of Atlanta United FC and win the league title in the club’s second season.

Bob Bradley, should this all work out, would certainly have to be named the Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year, an award recently named in honor of the late, great, MLS coach. However, it’s only the end of February and the season begins in two short days.

But, LAFC has the talent and personnel to win the whole thing.

 

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