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LAFC opens 2019 play at Banc of California Stadium against Japan's Vissel Kobe

LAFC opens 2019 play at Banc of California Stadium against Japan's Vissel Kobe
Banc of California Stadium is the site for LAFC's game against Japanese club Vissel Kobe on Thursday at 7 p.m. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

LAFC returns to Banc of California Stadium for the first time in 2019 when it plays host to Japan’s Vissel Kobe in a friendly Thursday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Vissel opened its winter tour of Southern California on Tuesday by playing the Columbus Crew to a scoreless tie in an abbreviated scrimmage in Irvine.

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Vissel’s three World Cup champions — Andres Iniesta and David Villa of Spain, and Lukas Podolski of Germany — played limited minutes. They are scheduled to play Thursday.

LAFC opened its exhibition schedule with a 3-1 victory over Toronto on Sunday. Carlos Vela, who will stay with LAFC now that rumors of a loan to Barcelona have faded, set up goals by Andre Horta and Diego Rossi, and Peter-Lee Vassell accounted for the third score.

Coach Bob Bradley used 24 players in that closed-door scrimmage and is expected to clear the bench again Thursday.

On Wednesday, LAFC finalized the signing of Salvadoran forward Rodolfo "Fito" Zelaya, 30. The second-leading scorer in national team history with 21 goals in 44 games, Zelaya was given a one-year ban by FIFA in 2013 for his involvement in a game-fixing scandal.

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