Las Vegas Lights, the USL affiliate of LAFC, defeated Charleston Battery 2-1 thanks to a brace from Danny Trejo (no relation). The Lights have mostly been known for conceding a lot of goals but still being dangerous in transition. They were certainly under pressure frequently in this game but they managed to keep Charleston at bay and score a couple of goals of their own. Both sides lined up in what essentially became 4-4-2s and played quite direct styles.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, re-watch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: United States
- Age: 23
- Date of Birth: 29/04/1998
- Current Club: Las Vegas Lights
- Career: CSUN Matadors, LA Force, Las Vegas Lights
- Position: Striker
- Secondary Position: Winger
- Preferred Foot: Right
A Trejo goal seemed almost inevitable from the early stages of the game. He scored two to take his total to 5 goals and 3 assists in 5 appearances on the season. He started the game as a striker but he roamed around the pitch quite a bit, often ending up in wide areas or deeper in the midfield. Trejo is an absolute monster in transition situations. He is very fast both in terms of acceleration and top speed, and he is quick with the ball and without. Any time the ball is played into space he is a menace. He is not very big and was pushed off the ball quite easily on a couple of occasions. But, at USL level at least, this was not a major issue because defenders had to catch him first.
In addition to running beyond defenders, Trejo was also very comfortable coming deep to receive the ball. He showed a very good first touch and the ability to combine with teammates in tight spaces. He was not necessarily splitting defences open with his passing but teammates were able to bounce the ball off of him and receive it back reliably. He created several chances for himself and others by playing quick 1-2s. He often found himself in wide areas, 1v1 against a fullback. In these situations he had a pretty good record of getting the ball into the box, either by beating his man with a dribble or by playing a pass into the box. I was impressed that Trejo did not just lump the ball into the box, but rather played incisive passes into the feet of his teammates.
He further demonstrated his dribbling ability, and his composure by dribbling around the opposing goalkeeper on two occasions, one of which resulted in a goal line clearance and the other was his first goal of the match. Also of note, he can shoot the ball quite hard. His ability to strike the ball hard was a big factor in his second goal. If he had a weakness it was that he lost the ball frequently. This was mostly in service of trying to create chances, which he did very effectively but there were a couple of times when he made some questionable decisions in his own half.
Danny Trejo was very strong in USL last season and this year he seems basically unstoppable so far. He has not yet played any first team minutes for LAFC, partly because the players who have played in his positions have all been designated players, making it hard for him to break through. His contract expires at the end of the year and there are lots of teams he could be a good option for. It’s possible LAFC or Las Vegas have an option to extend. These options are of dubious legality and some teams have successfully pried players away by just ignoring them and signing the player to a contract anyway. In these situations usually the team with the option will just settle on a low fee for the player rather than take the issue to court. I am not saying any team should do this, I’m just saying it has been done successfully in the past.
- Nationality: Senegal
- Age: 19
- Date of Birth: 15/08/2002
- Current Club: Las Vegas Lights (On loan from LAFC)
- Career: Montverde Academy, LAFC, Las Vegas Lights (Loan)
- Position: Left Back
- Secondary Position: Centre Back
- Preferred Foot: Left
Mohamed Traore had a bit of a shaky outing. He looked uncertain when making defensive interventions and slow to react to opposition moves. On the very first play of the game he allowed the ball to bounce, giving the opponents time to pressure him. He did not deal well with this pressure and his poor clearance led to a shot against. Shortly thereafter he was slow to close a player down and that led to a penalty against the Lights.
He seemed to have a hard time dealing with the pace of the Charleston players, often being forced to resort to grabbing an opponent’s shirt or otherwise fouling them. With the ball at his feet he looked quite stiff. He was not able to beat players with dribbling consistently, he had a number of misplaced passes and he often chose to play a long ball rather than keep possession. He did do a decent job of stretching the Charleston defence by getting into advanced wide positions but he did not have much to offer when he received the ball. That said, it was not all negative from Traore. He did look a little bit more comfortable as the game went on, though he still did not look as solid as I would like. He did a pretty good job of winning the ball in the air.
There was one incident where he slightly misjudged the flight of the ball but other than that I don’t recall him losing any aerial duels. About half of Traore’s career appearances are as a centre back so perhaps the reason he looked good in the air but uncomfortable with all other aspects of being a fullback is that centre back is where he feels most comfortable.
Mohamed Traore is 19 so he still has a lot of time to improve but he has a long way to go if he is going to step up from the USL. It would be interesting to watch him again in a game where he played as a centre back as I suspect he is better there.
- Nationality: Sierra Leone
- Age: 20
- Date of Birth: 12/04/2001
- Current Club: Las Vegas Lights
- Career: Barca Academy
- Position: Centre Midfield
- Preferred Foot: Right
Frank Daroma showed some building blocks that could eventually turn him into a really strong player but he still has to put a few things together. The main skill Daroma showed in this game was his ability to receive the ball under pressure and make good short range passes. He assisted Trejo’s second goal with a simple but well executed pass into the box and did a good job playing out of tough spaces. But his game was a bit limited to short passes and linking up with teammates. He did not show a very big range of passing, if a short forward ball was not on he would usually just pass it backwards rather than try something more ambitious.
He also did not have a lot to offer defensively. He did not go into very many tackles and when he did he looked a bit tentative. Daroma is very small, standing only 5’3”, and he had a hard time in physical battles as a result. He did get pushed off the ball a couple of times. This sort of undercuts his biggest skill, which is playing out of pressure, because if he does not time his pass perfectly or if his teammates are not moving for him then his is quite easily pushed off the ball. He did a good job of finding space to receive the ball. He also showed some ability to put in crosses from deep areas and to strike the ball well. He had one long range shot that was very well struck and tested the Charlston goalkeeper.
Daroma has some undeniable skill but he is going to have to add something to his game, be it a greater passing range, more defensive contribution, or more direct offensive contribution.