Preseason has well and truly kicked off for Los Angeles Football Club and the first preseason game is in just 11 days. It’s worth noting LAFC’s international friendly strategy has differed from most teams. While some MLS teams have decided to drop international friendlies altogether — “trophies not friendlies” and somesuch — LAFC are making their one annual international game in preseason for a second straight year. Instead of begging European teams to come in the summer and then shoehorning a date in between competitive games, LAFC have taken opponents from other continents, last year Asia with Vissel Kobe, this year South America with Peñarol, booking a high-profile friendly at home in preseason before the big games kick off.
It’s a good strategy. And while it’s certainly possible one of the players suiting up for Peñarol could join Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez to line up for LAFC in the future, it’s as likely Peñarol will take the occasion to try and break into the American landscape, even a little bit. The Uruguayan top flight isn’t easy to watch in the United States, and while the Copa Libertadores is a bit easier, South American teams have a lot of growth potential in attracting fans moving forward in the U.S., if the teams are smart, of course.
Here’s your Tuesday morning news!
- LAFC sign Cifuentes: The latest South American transfer saga was pretty shortlived, as LAFC announced the signing of midfielder Jose Cifuentes on Monday. The 20-year-old starred in the 2019 U-20 World Cup for Ecuador and played alongside Diego Palacios. Read more about it here.
- MLS Draft Day 2: LAFC drafted two more players in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft on Monday — Spanish midfielder Jorge Gonzalez from SIUE, 2019 MAC Player of the Year, and Belgian defender Younes Boudadi from Creighton, officially “Mr. Irrelevant” as the final pick of the draft after the teams after LAFC passed on their picks. These two will likely join fellow 2020 draft picks Paulo Pita and Jack Hallahan as trialists. Will they earn a contract? We’ll see!
- Wright-Phillips joins LAFC (as a trialist): With preseason opening for LAFC on Monday, the big anticipation was over who was in camp to start training. The headliner was unquestionably Bradley Wright-Phillips, the former New York Red Bulls forward who is the best flyer signing in MLS history. Can he earn that moniker twice? If he’s got something left in the tank and can stay healthy, he could be a very interesting player indeed for LAFC.
- More trialists: In addition to BWP and the draft picks from last week, two more players were identified as trialists on day one — Australian attacker Sam Silvera and Mexican defender/midfielder Christian Diaz. Here’s a profile on Silvera (h/t @LAFCAus), who is/was apparently under contract with Central Coast Mariners of the A-League, is 19 and apparently half-Jamaican. Diaz, 28, most recently played in USL League One for Forward Madison FC, is a native of Guadalajara who started at Atlas, and also previously played for Leones Negros and lower-division side Tlaxcala. Diaz’s nickname is Pato, was a USL League One Best XI selection in 2019, he’s been re-signed by Madison for 2020 and may therefore require a transfer fee if LAFC want to sign him. Stay tuned!
- Present/absent: Other news from Day 1 of preseason training for LAFC — Tyler Miller was absent, with Bob Bradley saying he’s looking at his options and so is the team.
- Steven Beitashour was not in attendance, as expected as he remains unsigned and looking unlikely to return in 2020, while Phillip Ejimadu was back, the young goalkeeper not announced as a signing but back in camp and not listed as a trialist. Meanwhile, several rostered players were missing from preseason camp, on international duty: Walker Zimmerman (USMNT), Eduard Atuesta (Colombia U-23), Eddie Segura (Colombia U-23), Francisco Ginella (Uruguay U-23), Diego Rossi (Uruguay U-23) and Jose Cifuentes (Ecuador U-23). Barring injury, those players are not likely to return to LAFC until February, but are on the roster.
- Wild transfer rumor: An Italian outlet claims Bologna want to buy Brian Rodriguez and then loan him to the Montreal Impact. Note that Bologna and the Impact are owned by the same person, Joey Saputo, but for as much as we hear these kind of “MLS player bought abroad but loaned to a separate MLS team” rumors, they pretty much never happen. Also have to figure LAFC are asking at least $12 million for Rayito, possibly much, much more. All of this is to say this rumor sounds unlikely but we’ll keep an eye on things.
- Big change at Barcelona: Relax, this isn’t about Carlos Vela. FC Barcelona fired manager Ernesto Valverde on Monday, and appointed Quique Setien to replace him. Barça are in first place in La Liga, why now? Sid Lowe has a good breakdown in The Guardian of why this weird timing is taking place, even if it doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Today’s question: Are you happy with LAFC’s strategy to do the international friendly game in preseason, or am I way wrong in my thinking that midseason European friendlies are way overrated? Let’s have a chat in the comments section below!