LAFC forward Cristian "Chicho" Arango, who scored a team-high 14 goals in 17 appearances, is the 2021 MLS Newcomer of the Year. The 26-year-old Colombian, who made his national team debut in a Nov. 17 South American World Cup qualifier, received the news in a surprise phone call from basketball legend Magic Johnson, an LAFC co-owner.
In votes by MLS club technical staff, media and current MLS players, Arango received more than twice as many votes as runner-up Ryan Gauld of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Eduardo "Chofis" Lopez (San Jose), Luiz Araujo (Atlanta) and Gregore (Miami) finished third, fourth and fifth in the voting.
Arango's 13 goals in his first 15 MLS games ranked as the third-most in league history to start a career, and he ranked second in MLS in goals per 90 minutes (0.90) behind D.C. United forward Ola Kamara. Arango also made club history with the club's quickest goal, scoring just 20 seconds into a Sept. 12 game against Real Salt Lake.
He joined LAFC on Aug. 2 and debuted Aug. 8.
MLS Newcomer of the Year Winners
2021: Cristian Arango – LAFC
2020: Lucas Zelarayán – Columbus Crew
2019: Carles Gil – New England Revolution
2018: Zlatan Ibrahimovi – LA Galaxy
2017: Miguel Almirón – Atlanta United
2016: Nicolás Lodeiro – Seattle Sounders
2015: Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto
2014: Pedro Morales – Vancouver Whitecaps
2013: Diego Valeri – Portland Timbers
2012: Federico Higuaín – Columbus Crew
2011: Mauro Rosales – Seattle Sounders
2010: Álvaro Saborío – Real Salt Lake
2009: Fredy Montero – Seattle Sounders
2008: Darren Huckerby – San Jose Earthquakes
2007: Luciano Emílio – D.C. United