Since his arrival from the Uruguayan club Peñarol, Brian Rodríguez has supplemented the high-flying LAFC attack, which features some of the MLS’ best players. This attack includes the MLS reigning MVP, Carlos Vela. Vela scored 34 goals in 31 matches, including 15 assists last season. Rodríguez’s other attacking partner and compatriot, Diego Rossi, scored 16 goals and had seven assists in the 2019 season. With so much attacking power surrounding Rodríguez, he has a lot to prove to be considered an instrumental part of the lineup.
The youthful Uruguayuan is only 19 years of age and has already completed a big-money move from his home country to one of MLS’ most fierce football programs. LAFC’s fantastic stadium and training grounds serve as a strong foundation for Rodríguez as he looks to perform at the highest level in the United States.
Although his contributions to LAFC have been limited thus far, the Uruguayan possesses an incredible talent that has already earned him six international appearances for the Uruguayan national team. He has scored three goals in six matches, including a crucial goal in his country’s 1-1 draw with the United States. His international reputation does not stop there: Rodríguez was a standout player in the recent U20 FIFA World Cup in Poland, where he scored two goals and registered one assist. His playmaking ability is undeniable and is a major reason LAFC signed him as a Young Designated Player in August of 2019.
This scout report and tactical analysis will examine Bryan Rodríguez’s key attributes and abilities which make him a perfect fit for the tactics of LAFC. This young player has bags of potential and will look to continue his fine play after the mid-season break.
One of Rodríguez’s best attributes is his ability to create and win 1v1 opportunities. Due to LAFC’s tactics, the wingers are constantly high and wide, allowing for a lot of space around them. This forces the opposing wing-backs to follow them, hence creating 1v1 opportunities. This style of play suits the youngster well due to his characteristics. His low centre of gravity and quick feet allow him to be incredibly mobile with and without the ball. It is not uncommon to see Rodríguez weaving in and out of defenders as his balance and agility leave them running in circles. Due to this, he constantly gets fouled. His dribbling style is similar to Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard, one of La Liga’s most expensive signings. Rodríguez is incredibly direct and drives at players with the ball. The confidence he shows in these situations is exactly what Bradley is looking for in his wingers.
Despite his short stature and body type, Bradley’s tactics allow Rodríguez to perform at his best. Vela, Rossi, and Rodríguez are all short, quick, and agile players. LAFC’s number 19’s dribbling statistics further prove his confidence while on the ball. In the 11 matches played in the MLS, Rodríguez took on defenders nine times during a match (on average). This statistic highlights his confidence to go at players as well as the tactics LAFC employs to create promising situations for the Uruguayan. This further concretes the claim that Rodríguez is at a club whose tactics match his strengths well.
Out of the nine dribbles he attempts (on average), Rodríguez completes approximately four of those dribbles. When receiving the ball, he will beat the defender almost half of the time he takes them on. Rodríguez’s ability almost defines a 1v1 situation, where, in a perfectly fair environment, there is a 50/50 chance of being successful. Being a defender is advantageous in these scenarios and yet the Uruguayan defies the odds.
He defies them by utilising one of his best attributes: pace. He couples his physical ability with the innate timing to shift the ball at an opportune time. An example of Rodríguez doing this occurred during the most recent match against the Philadelphia Union. Here, he draws in the opposing right-back while being extremely wide. He receives the ball and immediately goes at the defender. His goal is to get into a dangerous crossing position by utilising the pace he possesses. He bursts into the space, leaving the defender behind him.
Just a few seconds later, Rodríguez has completely passed the opposing defender and is in a very promising position to deliver a cross. The ability shown in this analysis leads to the suggestion that 1v1s are one of Rodríguez’s main strengths. Not only can he beat players, but he owns the mindset to take on players. This, coupled with Bradley’s encouragement, makes him a very dangerous player. The analysis below shows how the Uruguayan can get into positions to assist players through his 1v1 ability.
He also utilises his 1v1 ability to get into strong shooting positions. This contributes to his xG of 0.22. Despite being low due to his weak finishing, which will be touched upon later in the scout report, Rodríguez finds himself in with chances to score goals because of his dribbling. In the analysis below, #19 has yet another isolating 1v1 opportunity, this time starting just outside the 18-yard box. He beats not just one, but two players in order to get a chance on goal.
He intelligently shifts the ball to the right twice, countering the defender’s thinking that he would attempt a cross twice. His ability to constantly challenge the defender’s mindset is important. Rodríguez is capable of beating you to the right or left side, as shown in the two analyses in this section of the scout report.
Finally, Rodríguez has a great chance on goal, again completing his dribble. Within five seconds, the promising youngster went from a 1v1 position to a shot on goal while beating two players in the process. This level of ability is exactly what LAFC need and expect from the #19.
Another key role in Rodriguez’s success in his MLS career thus far is his positioning on the pitch and his ability to fit into Bradley’s tactics. Bradley plays a 4-3-3 formation with a powerful group of midfielders who facilitate balls to the front three. Due to the physical nature of the front three (including Rodríguez), they are not typical forwards. While some bigger players will invite pressure and get on the last defender, Rodríguez and company check-in quickly and look for spaces in behind.
Physically, Rodríguez can beat players with his pace in behind if given the opportunity. This is a key reason LAFC’s tactics keep him high and wide. The Uruguayan can play centrally or out wide too, which allows for versatility in attacking roles.
As seen in the heat map below, Rodríguez is rarely in his own half of the pitch. He can always be ready to be a part of a launched counter-attack and can attack the space in behind. The heat map is strong just outside the 18-yard box, showing Rodríguez ‘s most common position on the left-hand side is very dangerous due to its location. His positioning allows him to create chances through good crosses and 1v1 opportunities.
Rodríguez uses his strong footballing intelligence to make the most of his position on the wing. He can devastate the opposing defence with two main actions: he will run in behind (typically during a counter attack) or check into the player playing the ball and quickly spread the ball. Both are incredibly useful because the defender has a decision to make. The opposition either has to stick tight to Rodríguez or respect his ability and give him space. Depending on what the opposition does, allows for more freedom for Rodríguez.
The analysis below is an example of the defenders giving him too much space. A long ball is played from the LAFC centre-back (not pictured) over the Inter Miami midfield and defence. LAFC’s pacey winger emerges into the picture from a very wide position on the left. Because Inter Miami’s right-back is not tight enough, Rodríguez utilises his pace and is completely in behind the Inter Miami defence. This ability causes major problems for the opposition.
In regards to the other claim, Rodríguez will sometimes check into the player in possession to try and draw the defender in. In this analysis, he decides not to dart into the space in behind but he checks the ball and receives it. Within an instant, he turns the defender and has multiple different options. The intelligence he possesses to continuously play with defenders’ heads is what makes Rodríguez such a threat on the wing.
While his dribbling and positioning are fantastic, one concern surrounding Rodríguez’s game is his ability to score goals. While he is known for his dribbling and technique, he has never been a prolific goalscorer. In order for him to reach the next level in his development and better his end product, the goals must come this season. After only a few matches played in his debut season in the MLS, this season will give him a fresh start. As the analysis and scout report describes, there is no issue with Rodríguez getting into goal scoring positions or even taking shots, however, his finishing is not up to par. In 12 matches played in the MLS, Rodríguez has failed to score. His xG stands at 0.22 per 90 minutes- he should be doing better.
Rodríguez gets many shots off but can not find the back of the net. For example, in this season’s opening match against the league’s newcomers, Inter Miami, Rodríguez had four shots compared to Vela’s five. Two of his shots were on target while Vela had three respectively. This level of play and activity proves that Rodríguez can be a threat, especially during a tight match which ended 1-0 to LAFC. As one may suspect, Vela was the difference in the match just as he has been in many others. This is the level Rodríguez needs to reach too.
Rodríguez averages 2.2 shots per game, and approximately one is on target. As he continues to take on players and create more opportunities for himself, he will score more goals. However, it is crucial he starts to take chances because Bradley focuses more of the attack on Vela’s side. The young Uruguayan has to be more clinical in order to get close to matching the other striker’s production value.
His ability to beat players and get into scoring positions is just too good for him not to be producing. Here, against Minnesota United, he gets into an incredible goal-scoring position. He drives at the defender and beats him. While the defender is pressuring him with intensity, Rodríguez has to score in these situations. He is inside the 18-yard box with a clear view on goal and only the keeper standing in his way. His shot rifles off of the post and yet another great chance is wasted. In this match his xG was 0.57, indicating his higher danger levels due to the ability to get into goal scoring positions. If Rodríguez can improve his finishing, the youngster will be an extremely dangerous and effective player.
Brian Rodríguez is still incredibly young for his stature in the MLS. His presence in the starting XI for LAFC is definitely felt by his manager, who puts a lot of trust in the youngster. Despite his poor form in terms of goals and assists, Rodríguez has proven his worth thus far. He excels in what wingers in this LAFC side are tasked with doing: getting into 1v1 opportunities and driving towards goal. While Rodríguez has a long way to match the production of his fellow winger, Vela, he has many similar attributes that will serve him well in the future.
Rodríguez thrives with the ball at his feet, whether that is in space or in tight areas. His footballing intelligence, pace and technique are extremely advanced for his age. As he continues to play in this high-flying LAFC attack, there is no doubt he will begin to score many goals and register more assists. If, as the purpose of this scout report shows, when you take a deep dive into Rodríguez’s ability and contributions during recent matches, it is fair to conclude LAFC have a serious talent at their disposal.