Let's be honest, replacing Cristian Pavón was always going to be difficult. The Argentine netted 10 goals, and provided seven assists while starting just 22 matches in 2020’s shortened campaign for the LA Galaxy, while also being the main scoring option all season. You don't often find that type of production in single offseason. However, that's exactly what the Galaxy had to do after passing on the Argentine, in part due to sexual assault charges he faced in Argentina.
Enter Kévin Cabral. The 22-year-old was scouted by head coach Greg Vanney himself, and in April, signed a five-year contract with the club. The Frenchman’s move to Los Angeles came with a mixed reaction from fans. Some were excited about what he could bring to the squad, namely his speed. Others, were weary of his price, contract size, and the fact that he would take up a coveted Designated Player spot on the roster.
Many expected him to hit the ground running, and when he didn't, the pressure only got amplified. It didn't help that it took two months before he opened his goal scoring account, although he was also delayed nearly that long from arrival due to immigration red tape. However, in fairness, it also didn't help that he only played five matches before injury took down Chicharito, coupled with international duty forcing others away for a period of time.
Though, not many saw it that way. Most, rightfully, feel like a DP spot should go to a game changer, a player who will carry the team if they have to at times, and Cabral hasn’t been that so far. At all. So, people began to write him off and look forward to replacements for him come winter. Until recently, when he began to hit his stride.
Granted, he hasn’t lit the league on fire, or gone on a Golden Boot-worthy explosion. But he has seemingly found success in his role. Three of his four goals on the season came in the month of August. His latest goal was a much-needed, late effort that salvaged a point against rivals LAFC.
WE'RE ALL TIED UP!— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 29, 2021
WHAT A FINISH BY KEVIN CABRAL! pic.twitter.com/qV98m75Ao0
Upon his arrival LA Galaxy GM Dennis te Kloese said of Cabral, “Kévin is a young and dynamic player who will give us versatility in attack.” Anyone who's watched the Galaxy, especially as of late, will have to agree. Even when not on the scoresheet, Cabral’s speed and movement with the ball have started to jump off the screen.
With Chicharito only a match or two away from a full return, Cabral’s emergence couldn't have come at a better time for the Galaxy. Only six points off first, with a dozen games left, his continued form could help serve as a catalyst in securing the top seed for the postseason. At the very least, it seems he’s keeping the “bust” label at bay and could make a much bigger climb in Galaxy fans’ eyes yet.
Do you think Cabral’s form continues? Leave a comment below!