LAFC defeat Seattle to win 7th straight season opener

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
The Sporting Tribune's Chandrima Chatterjee writes LAFC embarked on a new season with a 2-1 victory over Seattle.

LOS ANGELES — LAFC opened up their 2024 MLS season account with a 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders bringing the tally of season-opening wins to seven to set the league record.

Despite the match being played under the dark and confusing cloud of a Carlos Vela absence from their midst, there were a number of positives for the Black and Gold.

Their new World Cup winning goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made seven saves, tying Tyler Miller for the single-match club record. “I think we could not start in a better way,” Lloris said in the post-match interviews. “The most important thing was to get the three points. We’re still working on our fitness level, and we suffered the last 20 minutes, but with the help of the crowd, we were able to win.” Lloris’ first test came in just the third minute in the form of a dangerously close shot by Jordan Morris, and the former Tottenham goalkeeper kept his composure under pressure from a pressing Sounders attack throughout. Even though the Frenchman is in the early stages of adjusting to a new country, a new league, and finding his form after a 10-month absence from competitive play, his coach and teammates all point to his calmness as a highly respected quality. “We needed him in the beginning portions of the game today and he showed up, all game,” head coach Steve Cherundolo remarked. “I think he gives our back line and our entire team a sense of security, which we’ve had over the past couple of years but, in my opinion, a little more now. That’s going to go a long way and we will build on that and become even stronger.”

Timothy Tillman and Mateusz Bogusz scored for LAFC. Timothy Tillman broke the deadlock right before halftime off a cross from newcomer Omar Campos.  

The hosts then doubled their lead in the 55th minute a when Bogusz found the top corner from the edge of the box off an assist from the 2022 MLS Golden Boot winner Denís Bouanga. But the Sounders received a penalty kick several minutes after Aaron Long and Morris made contact, with Long receiving the yellow card, and it was converted by Seattle DP Pedro De la Vega in the 72nd minute opening up the possibility of a comeback for the visitors. Seattle strove for a leveler, making three attempts at goal, but LAFC held off and walked away with a well-earned three points. “Three points in the first game are very important. It’s always important to start with a good feeling, a special kind of confidence to the season,” Tillman beamed in his post-match review.

Eduard Atuesta’s second debut for LAFC was arguably the most promising part of the sunny afternoon. El Profe (the teacher) played 87 minutes and had more touches (60) than all his teammates with an impressive pass completion rate of 86%. The LAFC original is noted for his fluidity in the midfield, equally comfortable as attacking and defensive midfielder, is looking forward to raising the level of football for his teammates as well. “I want to show all of my experience and intensity that I bring to my style. Before, I played with less intensity than today,” he explained. “I feel like I can bring that to my teammates and push all the midfielders to play the same on the field. With the ball I am the same as in trying to make good passes.” Cherundolo remarked on Atuesta’s re-introduction into the LAFC system after the match. “I was very happy with Eduard’s integration into the team in preseason. We’re still getting him to a level of fitness he can still reach, after his injury and after an offseason. Not quite there physically, but technically and tactically he’s great. He’s amazing and he’s going to make us a lot better.” For the 2022 MLS Cup winners who endured the lengthiest season last year and payed the price, while there are many questions lingering about their roster, and with a number of players still not at 100% fitness given the short preseason and injury recoveries, this year can only get better. “We learned a lot last season. The results in the end were not the best, but I think we played a good season anyway. We had a lot of games, worked through it together, especially in the middle of the season we had a tough time, not the results we wanted and a lot of injuries going on. We will try to do better this year. We started off good today, but we are looking forward,” Tillman concluded.

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