LAFC headed to the Coachella Valley this week, arriving in Indio, CA on Tuesday evening as they are set to take part in the annual Coachella Valley Invitational – the preseason gathering of soccer teams in the California desert to continue preparations for the 2024 season.
The Black & gold kicked off their third preseason match of 2024 against St. Louis City on Wednesday. LAFC brought out an impressive group for the starting 11, with newly acquired and legendary goalkeeper Hugo Lloris making his LAFC debut in net. New addition Omar Campos also made his first appearance with LAFC, starting on the left side of defense alongside LAFC veterans Ryan Hollingshead, Aaron Long, and Jesus Murillo.
Denis Bouanga returned to the LAFC lineup up top, next to LAFC Academy product Nathan Ordaz and Cristian Olivera, while the familiar trio of Timothy Tillman, Ilie Sanchez, and Mateusz Bogusz rounded out the midfield.
The match started brightly for LAFC, with the Black & Gold looking to attack in the first 10 minutes and finding openings behind the St. Louis defense several times. Bouanga almost got LAFC on the board first in the 10th minute when his shot from over 18 yards out was punched over the bar by a diving Roman Burki, the St. Louis 2003 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
St. Louis City struck first, with Kyle Hiebert firing a brilliant shot past Lloris in the 20th minute after LAFC failed to clear a free kick from the box.
About 10 minutes later, it appeared that Bouanga had tied the match when he was brought down in the box for a penalty kick. The 2023 MLS Golden Boot Winner launched the shot past Burki, seemingly equalizing the game – but the referee called the goal back due to an apparent double-touch after he slipped on the turf while shooting.
Abraham Romero came on for LAFC to replace Lloris in goal for the second half and made two brilliant diving saves in the 77th minute to keep the score 1-0. Both squads made wholesale substitutions at the 65th minute, bringing in 10 new players.
Of note for LAFC – longtime defender Eddie Segura made his official return to the pitch – coming on in the second half and playing about 25 minutes. It was the first live game, MLS action for Segura since he suffered a serious knee injury in the 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs. The Colombian was forced to miss all of 2023 due to multiple surgeries on his knee.
LAFC will train for two days in Coachella before playing Chicago on Sunday, Feb. 11 in another preseason match in Coachella. That match will be streamed on LAFC.com.