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LAFC kicked off preseason training camp for its fifth season on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at the LAFC Performance Center on the campus of Cal State L.A. It was a different scene from the Club’s inaugural training camp in 2018, when a mixture of young international players and MLS veterans came together in a temporary locker room space at UCLA to eventually put together the best first season by a new team in MLS history. The start of the fifth preseason training camp in club history was noteworthy because it was the first training session with a new head coach – as Steve Cherundolo officially addressed the team as the leader on the field and got right to work.

GETTING INTO IT

Cherundolo and some of his assistant coaches – who will be officially announced this week – put the team through a training session focusing on fitness, game tactics and getting the players reacclimated to getting back on the field.

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WHO’S IN, WHO’S OUT

The majority of the LAFC squad was out on the field Tuesday, with Carlos Vela, Brian Rodriguez and Jesus Murillo teaming up with new additions Ilie Sanchez and Franco Escobar in several small-sided games. Mahala Opoku, who missed the majority of 2021 after suffering an MCL injury early in the 2021 season while on loan to the USL’s Las Vegas Lights, participated in full training with no limitations.

Cristian Arango, who led LAFC in goals in 2021 with 14 goals in 17 games, was called into camp with the Colombian National Team earlier this month, and is expected to be back in Los Angeles and on the field later this week along with Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, who won the MLS Cup with NYCFC in December. LAFC original Latif Blessing did not participate in training on Tuesday and is expected to join the team soon.

Other players who participated in training on Tuesday included 2021 LAFC SuperDraft picks Danny Trejo and Alvaro Quezada, who played with Las Vegas last year, as well as Lights midfielder Bruce El-Mesmari. Daniel Crisostomo, who appeared in 10 matches with LAFC last season and started and played in 16 games for the USL Lights, also took part in the Club’s first session.

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NATIONAL TEAM DUTY

Three LAFC players who were not at the first training session were José Cifuentes, Diego Palacios and Kellyn Acosta. Cifuentes, who enjoyed a breakout 2021 season in which he was often LAFC’s most dynamic player on the field, and Palacios are currently with the Ecuadorian National Team for the teams upcoming World Cup Qualifying matches. They are expected to return to L.A. approximately Feb. 4 and fit back into training.

Acosta, who appeared in a U.S. Soccer-record 21 matches in the 2021 calendar year and has emerged as a key piece for the USA as they attempt to qualify for the World Cup, will remain on international duty and looks to join LAFC’s preseason training shortly following the United States match vs. Honduras on Feb. 2.

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INJURY LIST

The Black & Gold started day one with several players not cleared for full training as they continue to recover and rehab from injuries.

Eddie Segura, who suffered an ACL injury in July, 2020 and underwent surgery early in August is progressing in his rehabilitation and continues to train on the sidelines and in the gym with the Club’s performance staff.

Erik Dueñas, who suffered a tear of his left ACL and MCL while on loan in a Las Vegas match on Aug. 7 vs. Phoenix Rising, is also recovering from his surgery and continues to rehab with the training staff.

Twenty-two-year-old midfielder Francisco Ginella is nearing a return to full training as he recovers from MCL surgery that he underwent in October. He will continue to be re-evaluated along with Kim Moon-Hwan, who suffered a high ankle sprain in LAFC’s season finale in Colorado and is expected to return to full training in the next few weeks.

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