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Major League Soccer today announced LAFC forward Cristian “Chicho” Arango as the  2021 MLS Newcomer of the Year, becoming the first LAFC player to earn the award. The award recognizes the year’s most impactful new MLS Player, whose first season in the league came duing 2021. Arango shone the brightest among a class of nearly 250 star-studded newcomers that averaged 22.8 years of age and hailed from 53 countries.  

Arango joined LAFC Aug. 2 and made his debut Aug. 8 against San Jose, earning MLS Player of the Week twice (Week 24 & Week 31) and a spot on the MLS Team of the Week three times. He became the fourth player in LAFC history to register a hat trick, scoring three goals vs. Dallas on Oct. 20. 

“Cristian enjoyed a historic start to his career in MLS,” LAFC Co-President & General Manager John Thorrington said. “He showed that he is a dangerous striker and he quickly emerged as a leader. We are excited to see what he will accomplish with us in his second season.”

The start to Arango’s career was one of the most prolific in MLS history, as the former Millonarios FC striker finished with team-high 14 goals in 17 MLS appearances, the second-highest total to start a career. The 26-year-old ranked second in MLS in goals per 90 minutes (0.90) behind Ola Kamara (0.94) and played 1,400 minutes and contributed two assists in 2021.

He made his mark in the LAFC history books when he registered the fastest goal in LAFC history, scoring just 20 seconds into the game vs. Real Salt Lake on Sept. 12, making it the eighth-fastest goal in MLS history.

Building on his success with LAFC, the Medellín, Colombia native earned his first ever call-up to the Colombian National Team, making his debut in Conmebol World Cup Qualifying against Paraguay on Nov. 16.

The Newcomer of the Year award was voted on by MLS club technical staff, media and current MLS players. Below is a breakdown of the voting results.

MLS Newcomer Finalists
Name
Players
Club
Media
Total
Arango, Cristian "Chicho" (LAFC)
32.80%
36.40%
46.30%
38.50%
Gauld, Ryan (VAN)
7.80%
27.30%
13.30%
16.13%
López, Eduardo 'Chofis' (SJ)
6.30%
3.00%
9.90%
6.40%
Araujo, Luiz (ATL)
10.90%
3.00%
2.50%
5.47%
Gregore (MIA)
1.60%
9.10%
2.00%
4.23%

MLS Newcomer of the Year Winners:

2021: Cristian Arango – Los Angeles Football Club

2020: Lucas Zelarayán – Columbus Crew SC

2019: Carles Gil – New England Revolution

2018: Zlatan Ibrahimović – Galaxy

2017: Miguel Almirón – Atlanta United

2016: Nicolás Lodeiro – Seattle Sounders FC

2015: Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC

2014: Pedro Morales – Vancouver Whitecaps FC

2013: Diego Valeri – Portland Timbers

2012: Federico Higuaín – Columbus Crew SC

2011: Mauro Rosales – Seattle Sounders FC

2010: Álvaro Saborío – Real Salt Lake

2009: Fredy Montero – Seattle Sounders FC

2008: Darren Huckerby – San Jose Earthquakes

2007: Luciano Emílio – D.C. United

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