Jesús David Murillo Dribbling Ball LAFC at POR 201018 IMG

Black & Gold Endgame | LAFC 1-1 Portland Timbers 10/18/20

LAFC 1-1 PORTLAND TIMBERS

MLS Regular Season – Game #18

Oct. 18,  2020

 

The already-shorthanded Los Angeles Football Club was forced to make another adjustment on Sunday in Portland for their match vs. the Timbers when Latif Blessing did not make the trip due to a non-COVID related illness.

It was just the latest change to a lineup that was down eight regular starters, as LAFC head coach Bob Bradley trotted out his 15th different lineup of this long, twisting, and strange MLS season.

Bryce Duke filled in for Blessing in the midfield and Jesús Murillo, officially signed just four days before, made his first MLS appearance in central defense after just one training session with the Club. Goalkeeper Pablo Sisneiga came up with some massive saves in the first half to keep the match scoreless until Portland took a 1-0 lead on a Jeremy Ebobisse goal in the 47th minute.

“Pablo has been huge for us,” LAFC forward Danny Musovski said. “He’s coming up with big saves to keep us in games when we need it most.”

Under difficult circumstances and on an unforgiving turf where they had lost just three days before, LAFC put forth a gritty and determined effort, culminating in Christian Torres scoring the tying goal in the 90th minute. Torres became the first LAFC Academy product to score a goal in an MLS regular season game, and at 16 years, 186 days old, his goal was historic.

“I’m proud of the way the guys kept pushing the game,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “It’s never easy to play here at Portland, but there were some positives that we feel good about.”

 

MISSING IN ACTION, PART 2

With regular starters Carlos Vela, Tristan Blackmon, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Latif Blessing injured heading into Sunday’s match vs. Portland, and Diego Rossi, Brian Rodríguez, Diego Palacios, and José Cifuentes all undergoing league mandated quarantine procedures after time spent with the Uruguay and Ecuador National Teams for South American World Cup Qualifying matches, LAFC was down eight players who have played the majority of their minutes this year.

“I think that we continue to try to keep everybody going,” Bradley said. “We try to keep them engaged, keep them focused and try to push them in terms of what we can still accomplish this year.”

Adrian Perez made the start for LAFC as the Black & Gold used their 15th different starting lineup of the season. But late in the second half, Bob Bradley went to his bench – and the youthful legs once again provided a spark

19-year-old Mahala came in for Adrian Perez in the 58th minute and provided manic energy and ball pressure on the right side throughout the closing minutes. Mahala nearly scored off a Danny Musovski rebound in the 61st minute, but it was a smart turn and dish that led to Torres’ equalizer.

“It was really nice to see Christian Torres get his first goal,” Bradley said. “Mahala played a really good role in helping set up that chance for Christian.”

On his birthday, now 16-year-old Erik Duenas, the youngest player to appear in an MLS game since Alphonso Davies in 2017, once again provided quality minutes in defense, and then of course the 16-year-old Christian Torres made history in the 90th minute, crushing in a shot from the top of the box.

 

HISTORY MADE AGAIN

On Oct. 11 against the Sounders, Christian Torres made history as the first LAFC Academy product to play 45+ minutes when he entered as a halftime substitute. His strong play vs. Seattle earned him his first MLS career start on Oct. 14  vs. Vancouver, the historic first start of an LAFC Academy product.

At 16 years, 183 days old, Torres became the youngest player to start a game in MLS in 2020, and the youngest since Sounders prospect Danny Leyva started a match in 2019 at 16 years, 31 days old.

But just three days later, Torres was not done making history. The Fontana, CA native smashed the game-tying goal late in the match to not only become the first LAFC Academy product to score a goal, but the fifth-youngest player to score a goal in MLS history.

“I felt so many emotions,” Torres said about his first goal. “It’s a crazy feeling, you know? I’m honored and thrilled to have scored my first MLS goal, and just looking to everything. I don’t have much to say – but I’m looking forward to many more in the future.”

At 16 years, 186 days, Torres is the youngest player to find the back of the net in an MLS regular season game since Gianluca Busio scored for Kansas City in 2018.

“Every day we speak to Christian in terms of his movement and trying to read situations a little bit quicker,” Bradley said. “I think that he’s impressed everybody. He’s got a good sense of timing and he’s a good finisher.”

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS TO SCORE IN AN MLS GAME

Player                          Team                Date                 Age At Goal

Freddy Adu                   D.C. United       4/17/2004        14 years, 315 days

Gianluca Buso               Sporting KC       10/18/2018      16 years, 144 days

Jesus Ferreira                Dallas               6/4/2017          16 years, 161 days

Diego Fagundez            New England    8/7/2011          16 years, 174 days

Christian Torres            LAFC                 10/18/2020      16 years, 186 days

 

“He took his chance really well,” Bradley said. “It’s a proud moment to see a young player that has come through the Academy score his first goal, and score in a time where we really needed it to get a tough point playing on the road.”

In just his third MLS contest, Torres is thriving off the confidence he feels from Bradley and the rest of the coaching staff.

“Knowing that my coach believes in me and has my back at all times, it really motivates me and gives me confidence,” Torres said. “It inspires me and just motivates me to just keep going and keep working every day to keep improving”

The LAFC youth movement continues, as his teammate Erik Dueñas is now the third youngest player to ever appear in an MLS match in the 25-year history of the league. He takes his place among some pretty notable players.

 

YOUNGEST PLAYERS TO APPEAR IN AN MLS GAME

Player                          Team                Age At First Appearance

Freddy Adu                   D.C. United       14 years, 306 days

Alphonso Davies           Vancouver        15 years, 257 days

Erik Dueñas                  LAFC                 15 years, 362 days

 

“We’re going to take it step-by-step with our young players,” Bradley said. “We continue to move them along in a smart way when opportunities present themselves. It’s always great to see them show confidence, show personality. We’ve seen good things from all the guys, and it is just that Tony Leone hasn’t gotten the opportunity yet, but we remind him every day that like the others – be ready and take advantage when the time comes.”

 

POSITIVELY TIED

Despite missing key players in a difficult stretch of matches, the Black & Gold have been able to maintain their hold on 4th place in the Western Conference and remain in the picture to clinch the number one seed. It couldn’t have happened without the gutsy performance in Portland to keep the momentum going.

“I think it showed a lot of fight from the guys,” LAFC forward Danny Musovski said about the hard-earned point. “With this current scenario, having eight starters out right now, guys just have to get in and step up to help the team get a result out of a game that wasn’t looking too good. But they just kept fighting and that showed in the result.”

Bradley was also pleased as the team continues to get creative and figure out how to get results in what has been a strange year of football.

“It’s been a crazy year around the world, with COVID-19 changes and the way it has impacted people,” Bradley said. “I’ve said many times, we try to have a culture where when guys show up every day, there is a real sense of camaraderie. There is a sense of what we want to be about as a team, as a Club. So in these games, there was never any real talk of missing guys. It was just about the opportunities for others."

Diego Rossi, Brian Rodriguez, José Cifuentes and Diego Palacios are all back in Los Angeles and participating in individual workouts while they continue to undergo league mandated quarantine after being away with their national teams.

“Those guys have been doing their work,” Bradley said. “I think they are really excited to get back.”

The four players are expected to be available for the upcoming match vs. the Galaxy on Oct. 25.

 

A STRONG DEBUT

Jesús David Murillo made his LAFC and MLS debut on Oct. 18 in Portland, starting in central defense alongside his Colombian countryman Eddie Segura and a solid 90 minutes.

Officially signed on Oct. 14, Murillo brings a strong veteran presence to the LAFC backline coming from the Colombian team Deportivo Independiente Medellin.

“In his first game Jesús Murillo did a really solid job,” Bradley said. “As we get him more in step with everything we do, I think he can be a good addition to our team.”

The 26-year-old was previously teammates with Eduard Atuesta in their native Colombia, and the familiarity definitely paid off in his first match.

“It was good to have him out there, even though we haven’t really had much practice time,” LAFC goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega said. “I speak Spanish, and of course Eddie and Eduard do too so we were just trying to communicate with him.”

The communication worked as Murillo provided the stability to a defense that LAFC has been looking for in 2020. Murillo has had a successful career in Colombia, scoring two goals for Medellin in the group stages of the 2020 Copa Libertadores. In three years with Medellin, Murillo appeared in 108 games. He also has played for Patriotas Bocaya from 2014-17 and Deportivo Pasto.

 

BOB HAS TO WAIT TO MOVE UP

Bob Bradley continues to make history with LAFC. One of the most decorated coaches in American Soccer, Bradley is a three-time MLS Coach of the Year award winner and remains just one victory away from another milestone.

The win vs. Seattle on Oct. 11 was Bradley’s 168th career victory. He is just one win away from tying former Houston and San Jose coach and current Galaxy assistant coach Dominic Kinnear for third in all-time coaching wins.

Bradley can surpass Kinnear with two more wins this season that will push him into third place all-time, behind just Sigi Schmid (240 wins) and Bruce Arena (217).

 

ALL-TIME COACHING RECORDS

 

W
 

L
 

T
 


 

Sigi Schmid
 

240
 

183
 

125
 

.
 

Bruce Arena
 

217
 

127
 

104
 

.
 

Dominic Kinnear
 

169
 

137
 

135
 

.
 

Bob Bradley
 

168
 

114
 

76
 

.
 

 

 

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