LAFC closes out preseason with win over Toronto FC
LAFC got its first look at offseason signings Francisco Ginella and José Cifuentes but it was 15-year-old academy standout Christian Torres who stole the spotlight Wednesday in the team’s final game of the preseason, a 3-1 matinee win over Toronto FC at Banc of California Stadium.
LAFC (3-0-1), which finished the preseason unbeaten, plays Leon, the Liga MX leader, in the first of a two-leg CONCACAF Champions League playoff Tuesday in Mexico.
“When I look at the preseason as a whole, I think a lot of good work has taken place,” coach Bob Bradley said. “And everybody now can be focused and ready for Tuesday.
“We have to be confident. They’re a good team. We know the first leg is always a big challenge.”
Torres, from Fontana, got LAFC’s final goal of the preseason in the 81st minute, coming off the bench to drill home a right-footed shot from inside the box. Brian Rodriguez gave LAFC an early lead in the 20th minute with his third goal of the winter but Ifunanyachi Achara matched that for Toronto six minutes into the second half.
LAFC is parting ways with a key contributor to the team’s early success, trading Walker Zimmerman to Nashville for an international roster spot.
The tie didn’t last long, though, with Carlos Vela, last year’s league MVP, putting LAFC ahead to stay in the 74th minute, finishing from close range off an assist for Latif Blessing.
The game also gave LAFC its first look at Ginella and Cifuentes, a pair of midfielders who have been on international duty all winter, Ginella with Uruguay’s U-23 team and Cifuentes with Ecuador’s U-23s.
“Both are guys that are going to be good players for us.” Bradley said.
Ginella, 21, started Wednesday while Cifuentes came off the bench midway through the second half. Three others who played in the CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying tournament — forward Diego Rossi, midfielder Eduard Atuesta and defender Eddie Segura — have checked into camp but did not play Wednesday.
“I’m really happy to be here in this stadium,” said Ginella, who left the Montevideo Wanderers of Uruguay’s first division to sign with LAFC in December. “I get impressed when I go on the field. The people are amazing.”
A day after trading center back Walker Zimmerman to Nashville, LAFC rolled out a back line that featured Jordan Harvey and Dejan Jakovic in the middle, a combination Bradley has used before this winter, with Tristan Blackmon and Ecuadoran teenager Diego Palacios on the wings.
With the preseason over, the next time LAFC takes the field it will be playing for keeps.
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