Chicho Arango strengthens MVP bid: "He's playing with a ton of confidence"


Chicho Arango added more fuel to his early-season Landon Donovan MLS MVP campaign during Real Salt Lake's 4-0 rout of Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field on Saturday evening.

RSL's captain contributed to all four of his team's goals in the Windy City, helping himself to a brace through tallies in the 33rd and 37th minutes while assisting on goals from teammates Andrés Gómez (24') and Diego Luna (93').

Arango now has an 8g/6a stat line through nine matches, putting him atop the early MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi standings through Matchday 10.

"Chicho's doing everything that we're asking. I think he's playing with a ton of confidence," head coach Pablo Mastoreni said of the RSL captain after the match. "I think one of the things he said to the group today before the game was, 'If you want to be a champion, we have to conduct ourselves like champions, and that's getting a result tonight.'"

Leadership shines

Before joining RSL from Pachuca midway through 2023, Arango displayed a similar dominance with LAFC from 2021-22, racking up 30 goals in two seasons with the Black & Gold. He added 6g/2a through 11 matches in 2023 before a late-season injury hampered his availability.

With his 2024 off to a blazing start, Arango's form is reflected in RSL's place in the standings: The Claret-and-Cobalt ended Saturday occupying the No. 2 spot on the Western Conference table (4W-2L-3D record, 15 points).

It's the Colombian's leadership and constant work rate, Mastroeni noted, that sets him apart from other top players in the league, even when he's not scoring.

"It's doing all the little stuff when we don't have the ball. That, for me, is instrumental in his level of engagement throughout the game," Mastroeni said. "Everything he's doing from a leadership perspective, a goal-scoring perspective, has really lended itself to being a great leader, and the guys behind him are doing such a great job of following his lead."