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Children are our future: Portland Timbers 1, LAFC 1

Black-and-gold split the points with Christian Torres’ debut goal.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club made their second trip to Portland this week, this time to play the Portland Timbers, but it was a different outcome this time, as Christian Torres’ debut goal in MLS meant the teams finished in a 1-1 draw Sunday.

A Timbers goal just after the halftime break seemed like it would make the difference on the night, as LAFC fielded their most shorthanded lineup yet, with yet another key starter out for this game. But LAFC never gave up, and the 16-year-old homegrown forward opened his account at the pro level to split the points, remarkably.

Bob Bradley made a few changes, with newcomer Jesús David Murillo inserted into the starting XI. Bryce Duke started in midfield, and Adrien Perez started in the forward line. Meanwhile, Latif Blessing wasn’t in the squad and didn’t travel, reportedly because he felt ill but had not tested positive for coronavirus. Mohamed El-Munir started again at right back.

Bradley Wright-Phillips had a great chance on a throughball in the 10th minute, with only Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark to beat, but the forward’s attempt dribbled right to the ‘keeper.

Midway through the first half, Eddie Segura took a shot to the head from Timbers midfielder Eryk Williamson. It looked accidental, but Segura was examined for some time, and after taking a shot to the head a couple games back, it is a concern. But Segura was able to continue. Williamson received a yellow card after a VAR check.

Pablo Sisniega stepped up to make a big save on Felipe Mora’s header inside the box in the 38th minute, but the LAFC goalkeeper was up to the task to keep the game 0-0. Two minutes later, Sisniega made an even bigger double-save to deny Mora once more.

The teams went into the halftime break scoreless, LAFC with the early shots but Portland holding a significant 10-to-2 edge in total shots through the first 45, although LAFC did have a slight edge in possession in that span.

Portland came out of the halftime break and did what they’ve done a lot this season, they scored. Jeremy Ebobisse took a feed from Mora after Perez was dispossessed in the midfield, and the forward made no mistake with his blast to beat Sisniega.

LAFC almost found an equalizer at the hour mark, with Danny Musovski slotting in a one-timer off El-Munir’s low cross, that forced a rebound save from Steve Clark. But Mahala Opoku, recently on the field for Perez, couldn’t put the shot right in front of goal on target and there was no goal.

Bradley gave his youngsters more run off the bench, with Torres and Erik Dueñas coming on for the final quarter hour. Dejan Jakovic also entered to give the backline fresh legs. Jakovic nearly equalized with a header in the final minutes but it was unfortunate to be a bit high and was saved and went off the post.

Then Torres hit paydirt in the 93rd minute, to give LAFC their equalizer and a share of the points.

It was a grind, but LAFC were rewarded, somehow, even with the shorthanded lineup. It’s the second time in their last three games that LAFC were working with such a reserve-heavy lineup, and still found a result. Credit to them for not giving up, even as they seemed overmatched. Good for them, and congrats to Christian for his first goal.

The good news is they should be getting the likes of Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez back next game, among other starters, and that should help their attack and their talent level altogether on the team.

LAFC get a week’s rest, and then they’ll host the LA Galaxy next Sunday in a national TV matinee game. The last two results have not been good against the rivals for LAFC, but hopefully some starters will be back in the fray and the Galaxy have struggled mightily lately. You never know what a rivalry game will bring, right?

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