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LA Galaxy 2021 Player Postmortem: Victor Vazquez

Playmaker’s still got it.

MLS: LA Galaxy at Sporting Kansas City Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Victor Vazquez made his return to MLS in 2021, rejoining Greg Vanney in a new location, with the LA Galaxy. The 34-year-old was a reinforcement, and with Vazquez an outstanding playmaker from his time with Toronto FC, during which they won MLS’s first-ever domestic treble, it seemed like a good short-term move for LA.

After leaving TFC, he made a jaunt to Qatar to play for a couple clubs, before returning to Belgium, although his move to Eupen wasn’t successful and ended after a couple months. While Vazquez had battled some injury issues in Toronto, when he was on he was on and he seemed ready to come back to a familiar climate for another go-round.

Compared to his return to Belgium, the second time around in MLS was fairly successful for the Spaniard. Bearing in mind his age and injury history, Vazquez probably played about the maximum in terms of plausible minutes, and was second on the team in assists, playing more than 1,000 minutes less than the team leader, Julian Araujo.

Here are Vazquez’s stats in 2021:

Victor Vazquez 2021 LA Galaxy Statistics

2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2021 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS 28 21 1,632 3 6 26 10 1 0

Vazquez provided something the Galaxy hasn’t had since Landon Donovan retired, which is having a player on the field who can unlock a defense with an inch-perfect pass. With an attacking weapon in Chicharito, Vazquez’s ability to serve balls on a platter meant that the Mexican got off the mark early and often, and that alone made Vazquez a good pickup, as he helped get Chicharito on track in 2021.

In addition, Vanney did a good job of keeping Vazquez healthy and still giving him major minutes. Vazquez mostly started games and would be one of the first players to exit matches, which makes sense. The player stayed healthy, he played more than half the season, he contributed goals and assists, great!

The downside, which I think the Galaxy fully knew coming in, is that Vazquez plays virtually no defense. In an era in which “luxury players” are increasingly obsolete, Vazquez was the closest thing to a luxury player. And there has to be a risk/reward proposition here. If a player contributes nine combined goals and assists in a season but plays no defense is it worth it? Is that enough production to deal with a player who takes you down to 10 men when the other team has the ball?

I don’t think there’s an easy answer here, and a 34-year-old playmaker not playing any defense is not a shock, honestly. He played a role and he can play a pass like no other player on the roster, but was that enough on a team where defense remained a huge weakness? That is a real question for a team that is looking to get back on top.

Vazquez is currently out of contract but when the Galaxy announced their initial roster decisions a month ago, they said they were in discussions to bring him back for 2022. I mean, why not, right? But again, the production/weakness scale means he’s probably reached his peak in terms of minutes played with LA in a season if he does return, so can they find the right price point for a player who will likely be a rotation starter? At the same time, would Vanney rework the midfield to give Vazquez more defensive support and hope to ride or die with the veteran? Given the departures of Jonathan dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget, it’s possible.

So we’ll see if Vazquez returns. Obviously, his passing is pretty and he can make a play that can change a game. But building a midfield around him could be a big risk, obviously. He can certainly still do a job, but time will tell if that journey continues with the Galaxy.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.