Rodrigo Lopez tormented the L.A. Blues while leading Ventura County Fusion to a U.S. Open Cup upset a month and a half ago. Now he has the chance to do it all over again.
The former Chivas USA and Portland Timbers midfielder, one of the foundations of the Fusion's superb Premier Development League campaign this season, signed Friday with USL Pro champion Orlando City SC.
The Lions play tonight and Sunday against the Blues at Cal State Fullerton.
“I always wanted to be in an environment where I can truly improve each day,” Lopez said in a statement. “I believe Orlando City is that place and I look forward to helping the club for the rest of the season.”
The Fusion's run to the third round of the Open Cup, with victories over Fullerton Rangers and L.A. Blues before a tight loss to Chivas USA, was in great part about Lopez and Chivas USA draft pick Daniel Steres' partnership in central midfield. Steres signed with the Seattle Sounders last month.
Lopez, 25, who grew up in Santa Barbara, was with Chivas USA from 2005 through 2007, making eight Major League Soccer appearances. He spent some time in his native Mexico, including a spell with Gallos Blancos, and last year was with the Timbers, although he saw no MLS time.
Orlando City (10-1-4) are atop the USL Pro standings. Tonight's game begins at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday's at 5 p.m., with the Blues (5-6-2) looking to climb back into the third-division league's top six.
U.S. women's national-teamer Abby Wambach will be honored at Sunday's game in an Olympic send-off. The star striker will lead the U.S. at the London Olympics.
Both games are doubleheaders with the Blues' sister team, W-League leaders Pali Blues, with considerable lag time between the matches. Pali plays the Colorado Rapids on Friday at 3 p.m. (leaving about 2½ hours from game's end to the L.A. Blues' start) and faces the Colorado Rush on Sunday at noon (with three hours between games).