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LA Galaxy 2020 player postmortem: Cristian Pavon

The on-field MVP, but troubling questions have arisen.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at LA Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On the field, Cristian Pavon was the LA Galaxy’s clear MVP in 2020. The MVP by a mile.

In a season where really only a handful of players were better than thoroughly mediocre, Pavon was the bright spot, a player who showed his Argentina National Team pedigree while he single-handedly carried the attack all season.

In fact, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic gone and Chicharito never really getting traction, Pavon was literally the Galaxy’s attack, he was the player who was effectively the single attacking option in the run of play under Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Otherwise, the only other way LA could score was from set pieces.

Here are Pavon’s stats in 2020:

Cristian Pavon 2020 Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 22 22 1,980 10 7 63 26 1 0

It turns out it’s hard to be given the ball in any spot on the field and then told to play hero ball, time after time in every game, but Pavon did just that, and his 10 goals and seven assists in 22 games is remarkable considering the attack was primarily him or nothing at all. For context, Sebastian Lletget was second on the team with six goals, and nobody else had more than two goals — including all of the forwards!

So Pavon was the bright spot, and he suffered from the team’s woeful performance. Had there been a better record and performance collectively, that would have helped his stats and given him more visibility for honors like MLS Best XI. I don’t think he deserved that in 2020, because he wasn’t honestly consistent enough to be one of the top attackers, but with the context that he was remarkably good considering he was the main and usually only scoring option for his team, it’s a wonder he managed to even score 10 goals considering he was well marked most of the time.

Aside from the on-field performance, how do we evaluate Pavon moving forward? At present, we don’t have any resolution to his situation. As of Thursday, reports emerged that the Galaxy made a new bid for Pavon from Boca Juniors, as the player both insisted he would not play for Boca again and that he was too hurt, with some kind of ankle ailment.

Meanwhile, there’s a woman in Argentina who’s accused Pavon of sustained physical and sexual abuse. The fact the accusation continues to be covered in the Argentine press seems to lend some credence to it all, and in a delicate situation of she said/he said, it seems beyond risky to have a player accused of sexual and physical violence become the club’s marquee player, bought on a boatload of cash.

We’ve seen the Galaxy take action on scandals in 2020, but the fact that the club continues to pursue Pavon indicates they either do not believe there’s any truth to the accusations, or they don’t care. How will the fanbase respond if he’s ultimately transferred to the Galaxy permanently? A good number seem to want the club to walk away from their pursuit, but they may ultimately be disappointed, if the latest reports are accurate.

On the field, Pavon is a player to be built around, although we saw from 2020 that he can’t be the only scoring option for the team to be successful. But off the field, with an ankle surgery reportedly looming and more importantly, partner abuse allegations circulating and claims that a prosecutor may be compelled to prevent him from leaving the country for the time being, does it truly make sense to do this, especially for somewhere around eight figures? Obviously, it’s a tricky situation but the recent developments put the 2020 MVP’s merits in a new light, and we’ll have to see what happens in the future, whether Pavon returns to the Galaxy or whether they’ll be looking elsewhere for a star player.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.