Brazil exchange student Luca Thomaseto helps El Camino Real reach City soccer final

El Camino Real teammates celebrate after Luca Thomaseto (11) scored on a penalty kick against Birmingham on Feb. 25, 2020.
El Camino Real teammates celebrate after Luca Thomaseto (11) scored on a penalty kick against Birmingham on Tuesday afternoon.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

When a high school soccer coach hears about a foreign-exchange student showing up from Brazil, they always hope a star has arrived because of the country’s great soccer tradition.

For Woodland Hills El Camino Real coach Ian Kogan, Brazilian Luca Thomaseto has proven to be better than he could have imagined.

Thomaseto scored his 18th and 19th goals of the season Tuesday to help host El Camino Real defeat Lake Balboa Birmingham 4-3 in the City Section Division I semifinals. El Camino Real will play Huntington Park Marquez at 8 p.m. Friday at Valley College to decide the champion. Marquez defeated San Fernando 3-1 in its semifinal.

After each goal, Thomaseto flashes a sign that was made popular by the Brazilian team Flamengo. Birmingham coach E.B. Mahda, who guided the Patriots to the Division I championship last season, said Thomaseto made a big impact in a game that had five penalty kicks because of the aggressiveness of the teams.

“He’s very good,” Mahda said. “He makes the difference. He’s the one who caused all the problems.”


Birmingham took a 1-0 lead less than a minute into the game on a goal by Marcos Guerrero. Thomaseto followed with a goal on a penalty kick and a goal in a one-on-one chance against goalie Jordan Ramirez. Birmingham tied it 2-2 on a penalty kick by Ricky Nino. Then came goals by El Camino Real’s Ian Bolden and Moises Gutierrez for a 4-2 halftime lead.

Birmingham twice had opportunities to tie the score with penalty kicks but failed. Now it will be a battle between No. 1-seeded Marquez and the No. 2 Conquistadores.

Thomaseto couldn’t be happier playing for a championship.

“I wasn’t expecting to come here and in the first year go to the final,” he said.

In the Division I girls’ semifinals, Palisades defeated San Pedro on penalty kicks after regulation and overtime ended in a 1-1 tie. The Dolphins will play Granada Hills in the final. Granada Hills defeated El Camino Real 4-0.