LAFC 2-1 Seattle Sounders FC (Feb 24, 2024) Game Analysis

Hugo Lloris made seven saves and won his MLS debut, leading LAFC to a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.

Timothy Tillman and Mateusz Bogusz scored for LAFC, which began its drive for a third straight MLS Cup final appearance after winning the league’s postseason title in 2022 and reaching the final again last season.

LAFC became the first club in MLS history to win seven straight season openers, having emerged victorious in every opening game since joining the league in 2018.

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LAFC got an impressive debut from Lloris, who moved stateside last December after 11 1/2 seasons with Tottenham, including a decade as Tottenham’s starting goalkeeper. The 37-year-old won the World Cup for France in 2018, and he has played in a goalkeeper-record 20 matches over four World Cups tournaments.

Pedro de la Vega scored in the 72nd minute of his MLS debut for Seattle on a penalty awarded to the Sounders after an egregiously long video review, but Seattle still lost to the rival that ended its 2023 season in the Western Conference final.

Lloris made his first save in the third minute on a close-range shot by Jordan Morris after LAFC’s Jesús Murillo coughed up the ball in an awful spot. Lloris was repeatedly cool under pressure, and the veteran goalkeeper also opened a new facet of LAFC’s attack with impressive distribution on a series of long passes to his forwards.

“I think we could not start in a better way,” Lloris said. “The most important thing was to get the three points. We’re still working on our fitness level, and we suffered the last 20 minutes, but with the help of the crowd, we were able to win.”

Although he’s still getting to know his teammates’ tendencies while simultaneously settling into family life in suburban Encino, Lloris is already making a significant impact on LAFC’s plans for the season.

“His first game was very clean,” LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo said. “Important saves. Just a steady rock for us. A sense of security when he’s there. He’s drawing back on years and years of experience playing at a high level. His decision-making on the ball is going to make us a lot better.”

Tillman put LAFC ahead in the 45th minute with a mid-air blast of a cross from Omar Campos, the 21-year-old Mexican left back signed in January from Santos Laguna as a possible replacement for Diego Palacios.

Timothy Tillman celebrates after scoring LAFC’s opening goal of the 2024 MLS season.

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Bogusz doubled LAFC’s lead in the 55th minute with a beautiful, curling strike into the top far corner. The 22-year-old Polish forward scored only three goals in 28 appearances for LAFC last year.

Seattle was awarded its penalty several minutes after Aaron Long and Morris made contact at the top of the LAFC box, with Long receiving a very belated yellow card. It was converted by De la Vega, who joined Seattle as a designated player in January for a hefty transfer fee from Lanús in his native Argentina.

Andrew Thomas made his MLS debut in goal for Seattle.

LAFC began a new season by playing its first match without Carlos Vela, the franchise’s first playera and the 2018 MLS MVP. The Mexican star remains at home unsigned, but LAFC is hoping to find a way through MLS’ labyrinthine salary rules to bring him back.

LAFC also is back without longtime left back Palacios and central defender Giorgio Chiellini. Chiellini, who was honored for his retirement before the match, is now a player development coach for LAFC.

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.