Los Angeles Football Club played their first ever match on Friday, a preseason friendly against Toronto FC that ended in a 2-2 draw at UCLA. With LAFC currently carrying 17 signed players, there were bound to be other players involved in the game, and based on information provided by the team, we now know exactly who featured in the game.
Aside from the unsigned MLS Draft picks (Tristan Blackmon, Pol Calvet Planellas and Jordan Jones), there were five more players who featured for LAFC in Friday’s game. One of them, Bryan de la Fuente, had already been revealed as a trialist, and the fact that he’s stuck with the team for two full weeks evidently means they’re giving him a serious look.
The other four players? One very well known MLS veteran and former U.S. international, a couple young players known to superfans of North American soccer, and an Argentine with what seems like a pretty low profile. In that order, here’s who played on Friday:
The midfielder/defender, 31, played 2014-17 with the Philadelphia Union, but major injuries the last two years kept him off the field completely.
Unsurprisingly, the Union opted not to offer him a new contract for 2018, but he’s a free agent with no strings attached — LAFC have signed the full allotment of two “MLS Free Agents” allowed this offseason, in Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour, but Edu doesn’t belong to that group. He’s just a free agent, full stop.
Edu is a local, from Fontana, and when he was at his best, he was a smart, physical, versatile player in the middle of the field. The question, of course, is if his body has recovered from injury hell, and if he’s able to play regularly again. If he has, what kind of price is he looking for? Obviously market rate has plunged since he joined the Union from Europe, but if he is healthy and he will sign for a decent price, this could be a savvy move.
Shaft Brewer, Jr.
Brewer is a touted youth U.S. international. 18 years old, the left winger/striker is under contract at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga although he isn’t part of the senior squad, but his presence here in Los Angeles seems to indicate Leipzig may be looking to loan him out or cut ties with him.
Brewer is a Sacramento native, and was in the academy for Sacramento Republic FC, before moving to the FC Dallas academy prior to signing with RB Leipzig. He’s also come up through the ranks of the USYNT, most recently getting called up for the U-20 team during the mega training camp held in Florida last month.
It’s possible Brewer may be merely training closer to home for the moment and LAFC needed bodies, but this looks like a case where he’s on trial and if it works out, it will be up to the two clubs to figure out how to bring him to Los Angeles for the upcoming season.
Considering Luis Lopez is out injured and Tyler Miller is the only other goalkeeper under contract at the moment, there is room for another goalkeeper, and today the first-half No. 1 was Roberts. The 23-year-old is in fact a Toronto FC product and a former Homegrown player for them, so it may be a coincidence that he faced his old team in the friendly or maybe TFC offered him up for the match. Of course, Roberts was not part of the TFC set-up in 2017, so that latter possibility may be farfetched and he may indeed be on trial with LAFC.
Roberts was signed to an MLS deal in 2012 by Toronto, but never made an appearance for the first team, instead going on loan stints to the Wilmington Hammerheads (then in USL) and Toronto FC II in USL. Last year the Brampton, Ontario native played amateur ball in League1 Ontario for Woodbridge Strikers, and was named League1 Ontario Goalkeeper of the Year.
Roberts seems to fit the profile of a No. 3 goalkeeper for LAFC, as a young player who will be expected to fill an emergency role (although Lopez’s injury means the third-string will likely make the bench to start the season). Will he get the gig? We’ll see.
The last new face in LAFC camp is Nicolas Czornomaz. The 22-year-old midfielder has been on the books at the colorfully named Defensa y Justicia in Buenos Aires, but he has been playing for the reserves and does not appear to have made a first-team appearance there.
Czornomaz is the son of Adrian Czornomaz, who played professionally for 20 years, mostly in Argentina (he’s apparently the top scoring player all-time in the Argentine second division) as well as Chile, Peru, Mexico and briefly in Austria.
As for Niko Czornomaz, with no first-team experience it’s hard to know much more about him, but his profile is similar to Rodrigo Pacheco, as an Argentine toiling in a reserve team who was scouted by LAFC. Given the logjam at the moment with LAFC’s international slots, it would seem signing Czornomaz would be difficult, but if he’s actually playing in Los Angeles, they could be working on a deal or have one essentially wrapped up. We’ll see if he sticks around, and if we learn some more about him.
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