Defending MLS Cup champions Los Angeles FC experienced a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday, marking their second final defeat of the season.
The defeat has raised questions about the future of key players, including Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, Mexican forward Carlos Vela, and top scorer Denis Bouanga.
Chiellini, the former Italy captain, hinted at the possibility of retirement at the age of 39, stating, "It could be my last game." He emphasised the need to take a break, spend time with family, and make a final decision after returning to Italy. Chiellini, considering three options, expressed his intention to carefully weigh the decision to retire, stay for six months, or stay for a year.
Vela, the face of the franchise since joining MLS in 2018, faces an uncertain future as his contract expires. The 34-year-old occupies a 'designated player' slot, allowing a higher salary without affecting the salary cap. Vela's future with LAFC remains uncertain, with talks expected to determine whether he continues with the club or explores other opportunities.
Denis Bouanga, the French forward and top scorer in the MLS regular season with 20 goals, contributed to LAFC's efforts with a second-half goal in the final. However, his post-game comments hinted at the possibility of leaving the club. While expressing happiness about playing for LAFC, Bouanga acknowledged the potential of returning to European football. Despite having two seasons left on his contract, Bouanga's departure could present challenges for LAFC, requiring a significant transfer fee to replace his goal-scoring prowess.
As LAFC heads into the off-season, the uncertain futures of these key players add an element of intrigue to the team's rebuilding process.