By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1
In 55 days, the Los Angeles Football Club will kick off their 2019 campaign at the Banc of California Stadium – looking to repeat a historic inaugural season.
Major League Soccer released a list of the 2019 home openers on Thursday, December 20 and listed LAFC’s match for First Kick on Sunday, March 3 against Sporting Kansas City. Sporting KC delivered the black-and-gold’s first home loss on August 11 and suffered a 2-1 defeat at Children’s Mercy Park on Decision Day.
Before entering this marquee match, LAFC will host Japanese club Vissel Kobe in a preseason friendly match on Thursday, January 31. The star-studded team from the J-Leauge features world football legends Lukas Podolski, Andres Iniesta, and David Villa – whom recently left New York City FC to join the top division team.
With the friendly fast-approaching, the club continues to strengthen their roster. Shortly before the holiday break, the week of December 12 proved to be challenging for the club, as the black-and-gold found themselves on the other side of trades.
LAFC was spared in the expansion draft though not everyone had a chance to relax when Chicago Fire selected Marco Ureña during the waiver draft shortly after, including, having to endure a trade and two new signings all within 24 hours of each other.
João Moutinho goes to Orlando via trade for Mohamed El-Munir
Last season, LAFC was suffering from their lack of defenders. Could El-Munir be the solution?
The 26-year-old defender appeared in 26 regular season contests (23 starts) for Orlando City SC, registering two assists in 2,089 minutes during the 2018 season. El-Munir also played in all three of Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup contests, playing all 300 minutes of the competition.
LAFC selects Ricky Lopez-Espin in Waiver Draft
Lopez-Espín’s signing comes as a surprise since the young forward only appeared in one game for Real Salt Lake last season. However, he did appear in eight matches for Salt Lake’s USL side, Real Monarchs – logging just two assists.
Still inexperienced, he could have the potential to develop. Even though an official contract has not been offered yet, all things considering, I think Lopez-Espin will be offered one following January’s camp. And he could possibly be loaned to a USL team – although the club recently severed ties with the USL side, Orange County SC who hosted a wide range of players.
Thus far, three players have inked new deals with the club for the 2019 season. Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta and Jordan Harvey are all staying put in Los Angeles.
Kaye and Harvey took to social media to express their gratitude and excitement for the new season:
*Atuesta is not very active on social media and expressed his gratitude via statement.
Miller remains the lone keeper
No goalkeepers have yet been added to the roster, still leaving Tyler Miller the lone keeper. I assume LAFC will make more moves before the draft, if not find a few keepers in Chicago.
LAFC is rumored to be seeking to bring back Luis Lopez on loan from Real Espana and could be interested in keeper Cody Cropper from the New England Revolution. The 25-year-old has earned nine clean sheets in 29 appearances. But it seems the club is good at keeping secrets. Anything can happen at this point.
I would hope another keeper is signed soon, since Miller, along with Christian Ramirez and Walker Zimmerman, all received call-ups to the USMNT’s January camp. The camp will begin on January 6 in Chula Vista, California. Miller and Ramirez will be seeking their first cap when the USMNT compete in two friendlies against Panama on January 27 in Glendale, Arizona, and Costa Rica on February 2 in San Jose, California.
Featured image: Araceli Villanueva
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