It's been a breakout year for Latif Blessing.
Last year, he was voted 11th on MLSsoccer.com's 22 Under 22 rankings alongside some of the league's brightest young talent. That was before he elevated his game to a new level in 2019.
This season, injuries forced LAFC head coach Bob Bradley to try Blessing in central midfield. With Andre Horta and Lee Nguyen unavailable, Blessing (who had already filled in at fullback) was given a run in the midfield. He hasn't stopped since. Blessing has been a force in the midifeld. His skillset translated well to his new position, as his ability to cover ground, killer transitional game and natural creativity is perfect alongside Mark-Anthony Kaye and Eduard Atuesta.
Blessing has certainly passed the eye test, but the numbers speak even louder. Below are his stats across the league per 90 minutes, minimum 800 minutes, per Opta:
|Stat||Per 90||MLS Rank|
|Possession won final third||1.4||5th|
He fell just outside of the top 10 in assists (T-12th), just one assist away from setting a career high, despite having more defensive responsibility than ever.
Blessing's numbers per 90 minutes differ vastly from last season with the change of position. Touches, duels and tackles are way up, while shots are down. Chances created and dribbles attempted have held similar from year-to-year.
The 22-year-old's breakout season has not gone unnoticed.
The Supporters' Shield leaders already picked up his contract option for 2020 while GM & EVP John Thorrington confirmed to MLSsoccer.com that Blessing, along with a number of his side's key contributors, are subject of interest from abroad.