Tag Archives: Araceli Villanueva

LAFC Weekly Roundup: Carlos Vela’s Home Run, Loans, National Team Call-Ups, Gold Links

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Vela leads LAFC to 2-2 Draw in New York

Last weekend, the luck of the Irish was on LAFC’s side as they earned a hard-fought point on the road in a 2-2 draw against New York City FC on Sunday.

Carlos Vela continues to be the most influential player by keeping the ball moving, bagging a pair of goals to extend LAFC’s undefeated streak for a remarkable start of their 2019 campaign.

Missing Lee Nyguen and Steven Beitashour due to injuries, LAFC pushed through. An uneven playing surface proved to be problematic for the first half but LAFC adjusted to regain more control in the midfield; it was less effective. But the strategy wreaked havoc for NYCFC.

Click here for the full recap

But the main story is the supporters who traveled to the match. Around 200 to 300 supporters’ chants were loud and clear on FS1’s broadcast for the full 90 minutes. It felt like I was back at the Banc.

Loans. Loans. Loans.

Last week, LAFC announced they have loaned four players to USL side, Phoenix Rising FC – defenders Tristian Blackmon and Shaft Brewer Jr., midfielder Javier Perez, and forward Josh Perez.

According to the club statement: “Per the Right of Recall incorporated in the loan agreements, LAFC retains the right to call the players at any point during the MLS regular season, subject to MLS roster compliance guidelines.”

Blackmon, Brewer Jr., and Perez have spent time with Phoenix last season. This will be Javier Perez’s first loan in the USL Championship.

International Duty

It’s a player’s dream to receive a call-up for national duty. And for LAFC, several players’ dreams became a reality as Christian Ramirez, Peter-Lee Vassell, Mark Anthony Kaye, and Mohamed El-Munir have been called in to serve their national teams, respectively.

All five players will miss this weekend’s home match against Real Salt Lake.

Here’s the breakdown:

Christian Ramirez – United States of America

The Santa Ana native is no stranger to the United States Men’s National Team after spending time in the January camp with fellow teammates, Tyler Miller and Walker Zimmerman.

His past performances, which were highlighted by scoring a goal in the 3-0 win over Panama, earned him another call-up when USMNT’s head coach Gregg Berhalter released the roster for upcoming friendlies against Ecuador and Chile.

Ramirez did not appear in the USMNT’s 1-0 win over Ecuador on Thursday night in Orlando, Florida. But he could have a chance to appear as the USMNT takes on Chile on Tuesday, March 26 in Houston, Texas.

Peter-Lee Vassell – Jamaica

The 21-year-old has made two substitute appearances for the black-and-gold this season. Jamaica faces El Salvador on March 23 in Concacaf Nations League play.

The Reggae Boyz currently have three wins in the competition.

Mark-Anthony Kaye – Canada

After missing the remainder of 2018 due to an ankle injury, Kaye started in the first two LAFC matches.

Kaye will join the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan Osorio, and Cyle Larin the 23-man squad. Canada faces French Guiana on March 24, needing a win to secure its place in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Mohamad El-Munir – Libya

El-Munir has appeared on the roster for the first three matches but has yet to make his club debut. Libya is set to take on South Africa on March 24 in Group E of Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

Josh Perez – US U-23 squad

The United States’ Under-23 Men’s National Team will play its first matches of the 2020 U-23 cycle with a pair of friendlies in San Pedro del Pinatar, Spain; the first under newly named manager Jason Kreis.

Included on the twenty-three man roster is LAFC forward Josh Perez, who joined LAFC in August before going on loan to Phoenix Rising FC where he remains so far this season.

The Olympic hopefuls will face Egypt on Friday, March 22 and the Netherlands on Sunday, March 24. Both matches are set to kick off at 12 p.m. ET at the Pinatar Arena in San Pedro del Pinatar.

Gold Links

Photo credit: @LAFC

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Sporting KC dominates in 2-0 home opener victory

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City finally kicked off the regular season at home with a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union to an electric crowd at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday.

After dropping the MLS season opener in Los Angeles and the first leg in Panama for the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals, Sporting KC switched gears and returned to Kansas City.

Missing Roger Espinoza due to red card suspension and Andreu Fontás to an injury – a reshuffled lineup introduced 16-year-old, Gianluca Busio, the youngest MLS starter in Children’s Mercy Park history.

Busio wasted little time proving his starting role, drawing a penalty kick in the ninth minute after Johnny Russell and Krisztian Nemeth exchanged passes in the penalty area. In a scramble to win the ball, the Union’s Auston Trusty tripped Busio from behind, and referee Chris Penso immediately called the foul. Ilie Sanchez stepped up and converted the penalty kick to give the home side the early lead.

Moments later, the Union would have a chance to equalize after Seth Sinovic was called for handball infraction inside the box, but as luck would have it – goalkeeper Tim Melia was a game changer as he dove low to push away Marco Fabian’s attempt, securing Sporting KC’s 1-0 lead into the half. Melia earned his eighth penalty kick save since joining the club in 2015, surpassing his former mentor; Nick Rimando’s record of five penalty kick saves.

The Union was reduced to 10 men after Fabian received a straight red card in the 60th minute. Graham Zusi sent a thunderous strike to see it miss the goal by inches and bounce off the post. Minutes later, Melia was called back into action catching the ball mid-air off a header by Cory Burke.

The 16-year-old midfielder earned a chance to score his first MLS goal in the 77th minute; after Ilie sent a pass over the top falling to Busio, who then try to run the ball into an open net but was denied by a last-minute save by Trusty.

Own goals. We love own goals.

In the 80th minute, Kelyn Rowe sent a pass to Gerso Fernandes but Philadelphia’s Jack Elliott intercepted the play; and instead of clearing out the danger, Elliott kicked the ball past Blake doubling Sporting’s lead 2-0. Even though it technically wasn’t counted as an assist for Rowe, we’ll make an exception.

The last ten minutes saw both sides exchange passes until the final whistle awarding Sporting KC a 2-0 shutout and three points.

Sporting KC will prepare to host Panamanian side Independent in the decisive second leg of the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals; before going back on the road to face the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, March 17.

Featured image: Peaty Romano

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LAFC chop down the Timbers 4-1 in second straight win

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club is proving they are the club to beat this season following a 4-1 dramatic win over the Portland Timbers at the Banc of California Stadium on Sunday.

After nabbing their first victory of 2019 against Sporting Kansas City last weekend, LAFC extended their winning streak – with goals by Mark-Anthony Kaye, Christian Ramirez, Adama Diomande and Carlos Vela.

LAFC had a chance to take the early lead in the 10th minute when Kaye intercepted Portland’s ball at the top of their box. He quickly chipped it over Portland’s back line to Ramirez, but it was just out of Ramirez’s reach – sending it over the net.

Just four minutes later, Kaye gets another chance to score and headed one home off a corner kick from the captain Vela, leaving a stunned Jeff Attinella in place. It was Kaye’s first goal since suffering a season-ending ankle injury last year.

After some back and forth, LAFC’s early lead wouldn’t last long. The Timbers’ first real threat came after a corner swung into the top of the six-yard line – Tyler Miller was quick to catch it. But the danger wasn’t over yet. Jeremy Ebobisse managed to break through off a free kick for the equalizer in the 29th minute.

LAFC had to adjust fast again after Latif Blessing – that played right back for the first time – entered for Steven Beitashour, who was subbed off in the 32nd minute due to injury. Beitashour had suffered a blow to the head while defending LAFC’s box before either team opened the scoring, and evaluated for a possible concussion on the sideline. But no further information has been released.

After an intricate sequence of plays starting in the back – Carlos Vela, passed two or three defenders to Jordan Harvey that sent it to Christian Ramirez; who gets the low cross and doubled the lead, 2-1.

The Timbers’ came close to closing the deficit with Ebobisse looking to level the match again. He ran up the middle and before the ball left his foot; Walker Zimmerman stopped him in his tracks with a goal-saving tackle.

Fresh off the bench, Diomande slides one home off of a cross from Vela in the 65th minute. He also delivered the game-winning goal last Sunday.

Carlos Vela secured LAFC’s win with his first goal of the season after curling his shot around Attinella and nestled the ball into the side of the net – Vela also earned three assists that evening.

Moments after Vela’s goal, LAFC gained an advantage as Diego Chara received a straight red on a second caution for a foul on Diego Rossi. Portland would go on to play with ten men.

The black-and-gold stayed focused for the remainder of the half, ending the match 4-1 – earning their second consecutive win at home.

LAFC will look to stay undefeated on the road as they travel to New York City to face NYCFC on Sunday, March 17.

Photo credit: Daisy Jimenez/mlsfemale

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LAFC Opens 2019 With a Stunning 2-1 Comeback

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club kicked off their 2019 campaign in a thrilling 2-1 comeback over Sporting Kansas City at the Banc of California Stadium on Sunday.

After falling to SKC twice last year, LAFC found redemption Sunday night thanks to a pair of goals by Diego Rossi and Adama Diomande. Jordan Harvey who made the game-winning assist – celebrated his 300th MLS appearance. And Peter-Lee Vassell made his official club debut.

With an unchanged lineup following two Concacaf Champions League matches to advance to the quarterfinals – a vibrant atmosphere at the Banc did little to deter Kansas City from focusing on the task at hand. However, LAFC displayed a determination they lacked last season and held down the pressure on Sporting KC.

In the 16th minute, Krisztian Nemeth took the early lead for the visitors. Nemeth got the ball from outside the box and passed it to Johnny Russell, who returned it to his Hungarian teammate near the penalty spot. Nemeth then sent a low shot past Tyler Miller – scoring his third-straight goal in three consecutive matches.

Sporting would go on to press LAFC’s defense for a chance to double their lead involving a sequence of intricate exchanges between Gerso Fernandes and Johnny Russell; resulted in strikes from Nemeth and Felipe Gutierrez that were all saved by Miller.

LAFC countered with a few passes from Rossi and Carlos Vela. A dramatic first half saw five Sporting KC players receive yellow cards.

Shortly after the restart, Rossi leveled the match. The Uruguayan slid past Graham Zusi and Fernandes to cut inside and curl a shot just inside the far post past Tim Melia.

Sporting again would receive two additional cards with one resulting in a straight red for Roger Espinoza – before sharing a few with LAFC.

Even when down to 10 men, Sporting KC would continue to exchange blows with LAFC. Neither team was willing to compromise and were resilient in the defense. However, a persistent LAFC took back control.

Just when it seemed both teams would settle on a 1-1 draw – Diomande strikes a goal deep into stoppage time giving LAFC their first win of the new season and defeating SKC for the first time.

Photo credit: Daisy Jimenez/mlsfemale

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Match Preview: LAFC Hosts Sporting KC for Season Opener

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Where: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif.

When: Sunday, March 3rd, 5:30 p.m. PT.

How to watch: ESPN, ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980

LAFC is back!

With the first team roster set and tensions on the rise, the Los Angeles Football Club will host Sporting Kansas City in a thrilling matchup for the 2019 Season Opener at Banc of California Stadium.

After completing a prolific 2018 campaign, LAFC is looking to start the new season on a high note – defeating Sporting KC at home.

The club lost twice to Sporting KC last season – resulting in LAFC’s first home loss during the regular season and again on Decision Day in Kansas City, Kan., with SKC staying atop the western conference, leaving LAFC second seed going into the 2018 playoffs. All things considered, the black-and-gold isn’t taking Sunday’s contest too lightly:

“They’re a good team and that last game on the road was a difficult one in that it would have decided our place in the standings that very last day,” Jordan Harvey told reporters. “KC is a difficult team. We just have to go at them and be more aggressive.”

Goalkeeper Tyler Miller shared similar sentiments:

“Last year we were a different team. They were a different team. So we’re looking at this game as a completely separate thing from that series,” Miller said. “We know they’re coming off of two Concacaf Champions League games – so we know they’re going to have a little bit of an edge in playing those two games early. But we think we have a strong team and we know it’s going to be a tough matchup – I think we’re all confident in our team.”

Sporting KC will be coming into LA hot off a historic defeat of Deportivo Toluca FC in the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16, advancing to the next stage.

Roster rotation? Possibly. Physically, Sporting KC can continue on the road and will “move the team around a little bit.” But the team understands Sunday’s marquee match will be a difficult task and are looking to take things up a notch.

Manager Peter Vermes has fielded the same starting XI for both matches. Kelyn Rowe and Erik Hurtado made their club debuts in Kansas City during the first leg – then appearing again as late substitutions in Mexico. There is a chance one of them could earn a start on Sunday. But if we have to be honest, I feel Vermes will start the same lineup – using early substitutions given Sporting KC will immediately continue their globe-trotting adventures to Panama for the next round just days after the MLS opener.

After last weekend’s brief scare, Carlos Vela has been seen back in full training this week. The captain is still listed as “day to day” with a knee injury and has yet to be ruled out for Sunday.

The return of Mark-Anthony Kaye: Coming back after suffering a season-ending injury, Kaye is ready to return to the pitch and he displayed that same determination during the preseason.

Debuts? Although I do not see Peter-Lee Vassell starting, I predict he could make his club debut that evening, along with Shaft Brewer Jr. or Mohamed El-Munir.

LAFC Projected Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Lee Nguyen; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.

Sporting KC Projected Starting XI

(4-3-3): Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Andreu Fontas, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic; Ille Sanchez, Roger Espinoza, Felipe Guiterrez, Johnny Russell, Krisztian Nemeth, Gerso Fernandes

Photo credit: Erick Gonzales

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Sporting KC’s Historical Start to 2019: Champions League Review

Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

Sporting Kansas City opened up the 2019 season with a historic 3-0 victory on Liga MX’s Deportivo Toluca FC last Thursday night in the first leg of the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16.

Krisztian Nemeth, Gerso Fernandes and Ilie Sanchez delivered all three winning goals – making Sporting KC the second MLS team to defeat a Mexican club by three goals in CCL history.

Sporting KC has spent the last few days training in Albuquerque, New Mexico to get acclimated to the altitude before traveling to Toluca, Mexico for the decisive second leg on Thursday, February 28. Kickoff is slated for 9 p.m. CT at Estadio Nemesio Diez.

Admittedly, I was a little hesitant with the idea of Sporting KC advancing in the tournament considering the 2019 MLS season begins next weekend. But after seeing what Sporting KC accomplished Thursday night – I feel this team can handle a busy schedule balancing the CCL while trying to stay atop the Western Conference.

On a chilly evening in Children’s Mercy Park, it seemed Toluca would take the early lead. In the fourth minute, Luis Mendoza barreled down the left flank and cut centrally on the edge of the box, only to see his curler go beyond the left-hand post.

The home side would continue to dominate the game from then on, deflating Toluca’s defense with every chance they got. Vermes’ men finally drew first blood in the 35th minute when Nemeth fired a low shot past Alfredo Talavera – ringing in the first goal of 2019 with remarkable fashion.

Nemeth would get a second chance to double the score just three minutes after the restart but he would see his chance go over the bar. Toluca then came close to leveling the match in the 50th minute – with Emmanuel Gigliotti’s close-range side volley flying over the net.

Gerso doubled the score just two minutes after sending a rocket straight into the corner.

Seth Sinovic was phenomenal in defense and ran consistent plays leaving Toluca’s defenders in the dust. Even though, Sinovic would eventually run out of steam; in the 72nd minute, Ilie sealed the deal with a jaw-dropping volley from 20 yards out.

Sporting KC sought out a fourth goal for the duration of the match while managing to keep Toluca out of the danger zone. With the help of newcomers Kelyn Rowe and Erik Hurtado – who made their official club debuts late in the half – the home side secured the 3-0 advantage for the second leg this week.

All Sporting KC needs to do is score a fourth goal or hold Toluca to a scoreless draw. Should Toluca win 3-0 to level the aggregate at 3-3, the match will go straight to penalties and 30 minutes of extra time will not be played.

With roster changes in hand, the only thing Sporting KC would have to worry about is Toluca’s new manager. Earlier this week, Toluca club legend Hernan Cristante was replaced by interim boss Jose Luis Real. Toluca is currently on a seven-game winless streak.

“I think it’s going to be great. We’re still in that preseason mode because this was our first game. We obviously did everything we could for the first game. And obviously, it worked out for us. We played very well but now it’s on to the next one. I think there’s a few things we can tidy up. And we’re going to train in New Mexico, train at altitude and make sure we’re ready for this game in Toluca,” Rowe said.

Featured image: Araceli Villanueva

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LAFC Preseason Finale: Kit Launch and 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

While sporting new threads, the Los Angeles Football Club wrapped up their 2019 preseason with a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday at Banc of California Stadium. Carlos Vela scored the lone goal of the evening.

Prior to kickoff, LAFC officially launched the new 2019 secondary kit. The clean white-and-grey kit made its debut on the field, and fans seemed pleased with this year’s design.

Inspired by the “materials and textures that make up the city of Los Angeles,” the new kit gives those urban vibes by featuring thin white stripes in gray hoops. But the pattern is inconsistent, with darker spots and sharp cuts in the pattern. Additionally, the new jock tag has the stylized wing featuring the slogan “Street X Street, Block X Block, One X One,” a nod to the mantra the club has used to build its fanbase.

With new kits in hand, season ticket holders were ready to watch their team finish preseason in a favorable fashion.

The match started off as expected as head coach Bob Bradley fielded a full-strength lineup. Including the trio of Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta and Lee Nguyen, who collectively found ways to help each other move the ball up the pitch.

Carlos Vela scored the opener in the 13th minute, as Christian Ramirez – who was a constant source of pressure for the defense – sent a pass to Vela, who then dribbled upfield and finished calmly with his right foot to beat Zac MacMath.

There was a concerning sight shortly after the restart, as Vela picked up a knock and was forced to exit the match in the 52nd minute.

“It’s the knee; he was protecting the ball,and he sort of got hit a bit from the side,” Bradley told reporters. “He’s sore, and we just need to see how he looks tomorrow and get it looked at tomorrow.”

LAFC saw plenty of chances to double the score during the second half but failed to convert. Fortunately, the black and gold successfully kept their former assistant coach’s team from equalizing—ending in a 1-0 win.

Although scores don’t matter much during the preseason, Saturday’s performance provided a glimpse of what to expect ahead of the season opener against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, March 3.

Photo credit: @LAFC

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Sporting KC claims victory over Houston Dynamo in Preseason Finale

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City is Champions League-ready following the conclusion of their 2019 preseason run with 4-1 and 1-1 results in split-squad matches at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona.

In the first match, Houston Dynamo was quick to take the early lead in the 5th minute, as Alberth Elis picked up a loose ball and fired it past Tim Melia into the bottom corner.

Houston’s short victory did not last long—Johnny Russell curled in a beautiful shot off of a cross by Krisztián Németh to level the match in the 11th minute.

Regaining possession and some confidence, Felipe Gutierrez put Sporting KC back ahead after sliding one in from Seth Sinovic. The goal was initially ruled out for offside but was allowed after the play underwent review from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Six minutes later, Németh scored by firing into the corner from Gerso after Sporting KC forced a turnover—bringing the tally up 3-1.

Sinovic came close to adding another goal to Sporting KC’s score—after sending one from down the middle in the 41st minute. However, his chance went straight into Joe Willis’ arms; ending the first half 3-1.

The tide turned as Houston’s Romell Quioto tried to score a corner, but Matt Besler was quick to deny it. Then, a header by Mauro Manotas went straight to Melia. Despite all efforts, Sporting KC’s backline continued to pressure and keep Houston away from the goal as they pushed forward.

Late in the second half, both sides shared a red card each, as first Quioto was shown a straight red for a sliding challenge on Gutierrez, and then Roger Espinoza was ejected for a pair of yellow cards. This forced both teams to play with ten men, but it didn’t stop the momentum.

Just when it seemed the match would end 3-1, Graham Zusi freed Nemeth from the backline, who took the ball and clipped it over Dynamo’s goalkeeper to make the final score 4-1.

In the other split-squad match on a separate field at Kino Sports Complex, Sporting KC battled to a 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo.

Similar to the first game, both sides traded plays until Yohan Croizet opened up the scoring for Sporting KC with a right-footed, 30-yard strike. Shortly after the break, Memo Rodriguez got the equalizer. After a chippy half, the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Sporting KC will continue to train in Arizona before returning to a chilly Kansas City to host Toluca FC on Thursday, Feb. 21 for the first-leg of the Champions League.

Featured image: @SportingKC

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LAFC Weekly Roundup: Preseason, Vissel Kobe, USMNT update, Gold Links

Official LAFC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

The Los Angeles Football Club kicked off their six-match preseason with a 3-1 victory against Toronto FC on Sunday evening.

Andre Horta, Diego Rossi, and newcomer, Peter-Lee Vassell scored all three goals for the home side, while Toronto’s Drew Moor pulled one back for the visitors late in the match.

Baggio Husidic, former LA Galaxy midfielder, who is on trial with the club – made his debut for LAFC after entering for Eduard Atuesta before halftime. If given a contract, he can provide some depth in the midfield area.

Although it was only the first match and the results don’t benefit much, it was nice to see a win from the Black and Gold after a string of losses that ended their season early last year.

LAFC will host Columbus Crew, Atlanta United, San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver in Banc of California stadium for the remainder of preseason.

Supporters and the public are invited to attend the second-ever international friendly and season ticket members will have an opportunity to attend the final preseason match on Saturday, Feb. 23.

USMNT Update: Zimmerman and Ramirez scores in Sunday’s win

The United States Men’s National Team kicked off a new era under new head coach Gregg Berhalter on Sunday, opening their 2019 campaign with a 3-0 shutout against Panama at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Following the opening goal from Chicago Fire’s Djordje Mihailovic in the 40th minute, LAFC’s favorite duo Walker Zimmerman and Christian Ramirez scored a pair of goals back-to-back – securing the 3-0 shutout. 

January has been a busy month for Zimmerman. After much speculation, Zimmerman and LAFC agreed to a new four-year contract. The center back returns as an elite defender in his prime years – having six years of MLS experience and has been a regular for the U.S. Men’s National Team over the last year.

But Zimmerman wasn’t the only player from the Black and Gold to contribute – Ramirez, 27, earned his first international cap and marked the special occasion with a goal in the 89th minute.

Zimmerman and Ramirez will get another chance to shine on Saturday, Feb. 2, as the USMNT take on Costa Rica in San Jose, California.

Tyler Miller Returns to LAFC

Walker Zimmerman, Christian Ramirez, and Tyler Miller recently completed three weeks of USMNT camp in Chula Vista, California. Unfortunately, the team would leave behind four players, including Miller, before departing to Arizona.

The 25-year-old goalkeeper immediately returned to training with LAFC and played a vital role in Sunday’s contest.

LAFC’s friendly against Vissel Kobe

With the re-signing of Walker Zimmerman and the subsequent return of defenders Danilo Silva and Dejan Jakovic a day later, LAFC is bringing back 18 members of its inaugural squad. And in returning that core, a season after setting the standard for first-year teams in MLS, the club and its fans are asking: What can this group of players achieve with a full season under their belts?

The Black and Gold will have a chance to answer that question as they host Vissel Kobe for a preseason friendly this Thursday.

Vassell, Perez, and Mendoza are Black and Gold

LAFC surprised fans when they traded their first-round pick to FC Cincinnati during the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in Chicago.

But head coach Bob Bradley isn’t to be underestimated and the club didn’t leave empty handed as LAFC selected Peter-Lee Vassell, Javi Perez, and Kevin Mendoza.

Here’s what we know about these three draftees:

  • Peter-Lee Vassell – 40th overall pick

Before hitting the pitch, Vassell is already an interesting case.

The 19-year-old is one the few players who did not get selected out of college. Instead, the midfielder found his route to the SuperDraft via the 2018 Caribbean Combine, being selected MVP and earning an invite to the main MLS Combine. Additionally, he is on the senior international with Jamaica – having recorded eight caps and five goals, thus far.

  • Javi Perez – 64th overall pick

At just 20-years-old, the Spanish midfielder wanted a change of scenery after playing for Spain’s La Liga club Valencia CF – serving as the team’s captain for twelve years.

Perez spent the last two years at the University of Pittsburgh, having started in all 35 games he played. As a senior in 2018, he ranked second on the team with eleven points, four goals, and three assists.

A junior transfer from Spain, Perez was a two-time captain for the Panthers, earning USC All-South Region Third Team honors in 2018 and Second Team All-ACC in 2017-18.

  • Kevin Mendoza – 73rd overall pick

Mendoza spent the past four years at Liberty University, earning all-conference honors all four seasons, including first team accolades from 2016-18. A two-year captain for the Flames, Mendoza finished his collegiate career with 32 goals and 15 assists.

The 25-year-old midfielder graduated from Colegio de Bachilleres in his hometown of Mexico City, while also playing for Cruz Azul’s U-17 and U-20 squads.

Gold Links

Featured image: @LAFC

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Sporting KC kicks off preseason on a high note

Araceli Villanueva - LAFC/mlsfemale
Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City kicked off the 2019 preseason campaign on a high note in a 4-0 victory over Sporting Arizona FC at Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex in Tempe, Arizona this past weekend.

Johnny Russell and Yohan Croizet gave Sporting KC a 2-0 lead before Swope Park Rangers duo Justin Bilyeu and Felipe Hernandez struck late in the second half to secure the victory.

*Full match recap here

The club will play their second match at 11:30 am CT on Wednesday, January 23 when the home side faces a team comprised of USL’s Phoenix Rising FC trialists.

Before Sporting KC set off to Scottsdale for the fifth-straight year, players reported to Pinnacle earlier this month for physicals and welcomed their new teammates: Erik Hurtado, Kelyn Rowe, and Rodney Wallace.

Along with the newest additions to the squad, Sporting KC took a total of 39 players to Arizona. Including four members of the Swope Park Rangers, eight Sporting KC Academy products and five current Academy players, all under the age of 23, and MLS SuperDraft picks Kamar Marriott, Camden Riley, and Franky Martinez. All three players selected in the draft are currently unsigned. Additionally, Daniel Johnson – former midfielder for the Chicago Fire – is the lone trialist this preseason.

Among the thirteen Academy players, ten featured in Sporting KC’s preseason win: the senior team quintet of Daniel Salloi, Gianluca Busio, Jaylin Lindsey, Wan Kuzain, and Tyler Freeman; Rangers trio Felipe Hernandez, Wilson Harris and Will Little; and current Academy standouts Mo Abualnadi and Jake Davis.

Looking at the roster – it appears the squad’s main core – whom most signed new contracts before the 2018 season ended – is back. However, we can still potentially lose players – as seen with the three-team trade in early December which sent Diego Rubio to the Colorado Rapids and saw Sporting KC gain Kelyn Rowe and $300,000 in allocation money.

Sporting KC is set to play seven friendlies in Arizona before returning to Kansas City to host Club Deportivo Toluca in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League on Thursday, February 21.

Featured image: @sportingkc Instagram

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