A torn quad in preseason training forced Lights forward Danny Trejo, LAFC’s 2021 first-round draft selection, to miss the first 16 games of the 2021 season.
Now, entering the 2022 season fully healthy, Trejo is making an immediate impact for the Lights. He leads the United Soccer League in goals (six) and assists (four), and was named player of the month for March.
The time he spent on the sideline while the Lights floundered last season, going 6-23-3, is what drives Trejo this season.
“Seeing this team struggle last year really motivated me to come out here and show that this team can be good,” Trejo said. “And as an individual goal for myself, prove to the league, to the coaches all around the league that I’m a good player and that I could make a difference.”
Behind Trejo’s strong start, the Lights sit tied for fourth place (4-3-0, 12 points) in the USL Western Conference and are nearing the number of wins (six) they accumulated in 2021.
Trejo credits the time spent on the practice field last season and watching game film for his success this season.
“I take it very seriously at training because I feel like that’s where you’re able to learn and you prepare yourself for the games,” Trejo said.
Prior to the season, Trejo sat down with new coach Enrique Duran to discuss where he needed to improve. Duran wanted Trejo to be more aggressive when he had scoring opportunities and to mentally believe more strongly in what he is doing on the field.
“You can see that he has been effective because he’s working hard,” Duran said. “And now he’s having a really consistent performance every weekend.”
One area Trejo wanted to improve upon was capitalizing on scoring chances in front of the net. Duran said Trejo has an “instinct to score goal” and has seen him take advantage of scoring opportunities in practice, which has translated to the games.
“Getting reps in and learning ways to score,” Trejo said on what he works on in practice. “Being able to relax when I’m in front of the goal and being composed. Hit the ball the correct way with the right technique at the right time. I think all that has really helped me.”
Trejo’s start has exceeded what Duran and his staff expected from his return. Duran sees Trejo playing with purpose in every move he makes.
“He came back with this energy and this intensity that you are expecting from a guy that has been out for a while,” Duran said. “And I think that this is what really is pushing him to the next level now.”
With six months remaining in the season, Trejo has his sights set on helping the Lights make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. He is sure that if he continues to focus on improving his game in practice, the wins and goals will continue to come.
“I’m gonna show up to the game confident,” Trejo said. “I did all I could do to prepare myself and that’s really what I think that has been helping me.”
Contact Alex Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.