Los Angeles Soccer: Uvaldo Luna

L.A. BLUES: Good effort in El Tri loss

February, 25, 2012
FULLERTON -- The L.A. Blues are still seven weeks from their USL Pro opener. Their preseason camp hasn't opened, not officially. So the effort the team gave in a 1-0 loss to Mexico's under-20 national team has head coach Charlie Naimo feeling good about what's to come.

The Blues absorbed nearly everything thrown at them by an El Tri side that featured up-and-comers from several of Mexico's biggest clubs -- Guadalajara, America, Tigres, Monterrey and Santos Laguna among them -- and might have achieved a better result if not for red cards three minutes apart to Mexican trialist Mike Lopez and Israel Sesay.

Lopez's 70th-minute red card, after a hip-check on Monterrey's Oscar Garcia, might have been warranted. Sesay, a former Galaxy player who inadvertently kicked Santos' Jesus Escoboza, could have gotten off with a yellow card, perhaps. No matter.

“I'm most proud of the way they fought and battled for each other, even two men down. They never quit,” Naimo said following the match, which drew 2,864 to Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium. “You can really look at the heart and discipline this team will have this year, and we're still missing a bunch of guys. We haven't started preseason yet. I'm pleased.

“To play a fit group of soccer players like that, that pressed us for the whole game -- they're active, they're busy, they're technical. That's a great soccer team. The way that game went, I hate losing as much as anybody, but I felt our guys played with a winner's mentality tonight. We need to get better in our attack, but we'll figure it out.”

The Blues have a mix of signed players -- the latest, not yet announced: former UC Irvine star (and New York Red Bulls midfielder) Irving Garcia, who played up front -- and those looking for jobs, and quite a few won't be in camp until preparations for the club's second season in America's third-division league begin, officially, on Thursday.

Naimo, whose club has been training all winter, likes the foundation, which ought to serve the Blues well after last season unraveled amid indiscipline and problems with chemistry.

“I saw some things tonight,” he noted, “that said, 'OK, we've got this figured out, that figured out. We've just got to figure this out and then figure that out.' ”

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