LA Galaxy 2022 Player Postmortem: Victor Vazquez

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Victor Vazquez returned for his second season with the LA Galaxy in 2022 and in many ways, his contributions shifted a lot. In 2021, the cultured playmaker was LA’s primary attacking midfielder, when he was healthy and available, an issue for the veteran over the years.

But Vazquez is an absolute liability at the defensive side of the ball, and that, his injury record and the hope that maybe this would be the year that Efrain Alvarez took over as the primary playmaker meant that Vazquez receded a bit. In the end, Alvarez very much did not take the step forward to be a starter, but Vazquez was also no longer the first option to start, either, which led the way for Riqui Puig to join up late in the summer.

In looking back, Vazquez actually had more contributions than I recalled off the top of my head. Certainly he wasn’t bossing attacking midfield, but he did have two goals and five assists across all competitions in a little under 1,300 minutes, so he still played a part.

Here are Vazquez’s competitive stats with LA in 2022:

Victor Vazquez LA Galaxy 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 26 15 1,160 2 4 21 5 4 0
U.S. Open Cup 2 1 97 0 0 3 1 0 0
Playoffs 1 0 22 0 1 0 0 0 0
Total 29 16 1,279 2 5 24 6 4 0

Vazquez’s highlight was probably this cross-that-turned-into-a-goal against the Sounders.

Just kidding! That was unintentionally impressive, here’s an actual golazo.

Coincidentally, those goals came in back-to-back appearances, in mid-August.

So Vazquez could still set up a goal, but at the same time, he wasn’t able to be on the field enough to consistently unlock the attack and provide consistent service to the strikers, and his defensive downsides just couldn’t be covered well enough by the other players to keep things balanced.

At the same time, his scouting report graph on shows why he’s an intriguing player, even with his limitations.

He passes in a high volume, he completes nearly all of his passes and he’s elite at passing forward to progress the attack. He also sets up his teammates at an outstanding rate. The production may not be there at elite levels, but he’s still a smart player who has class that many others in MLS do not.

But the defensive side is, well. He’s somewhat above average in interceptions and clearances but in the bottom fifth among not just midfielders but attacking midfielders in all other categories. I don’t think anyone expects him to burn his energy with major defending, but this remains “the Galaxy basically play with 10 players when the other team has the ball” territory, and in this day and age, you can’t get away with too many players just not offering much at all in the way of defending.

Interestingly, down the stretch of the season Vazquez played a lot more after Puig arrived. With Puig as the two-way attacking mid, Mark Delgado as a No. 8, and Gaston Brugman who can defend well but also has the skill to push forward in attack, suddenly Vazquez had that cover he needed but he could pretty much post up and ping the ball around the midfield around him. In other words, if LA take away an attacker (which they should do, running a two-man striker set-up) this actually seems like a 4-4-2 formation that puts the best players on the field together, while also shielding Vazquez’s limits.

Vazquez is out of contract at present but the Galaxy said they are negotiating to bring him back for 2023. He’ll be 36 at the start of next season, and I think his health is the big question — can he stay healthy enough to play a real role again next year? I don’t think he can play major starting minutes regardless, but he can be a good rotation and depth player for the G’z. But I think it has to make sense with LA’s budget, Vazquez can certainly still make a big play, but he just isn’t the same guy who won the treble at Toronto FC anymore and so it really has to be a reasonable cap hit for the Galaxy.

So we’ll see what happens but given how much Greg Vanney likes Vazquez I think it’s pretty likely he’ll run it back one more year. And from there, we’ll see how he slots in for the new season with a team with substantially higher expectations.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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