Debut MLS goal speeds Eduard Atuesta's transition from Colombia to LAFC

Eduard Atuesta - LAFC - closeup

LOS ANGELES – Like any 20-year-old moving away from a country where he’s lived his whole life, Eduard Atuesta misses things about Colombia.

His family, the language and of course, Mom’s home cooking.

“A lot has changed,” the LAFC midfielder told in an exclusive interview about his life in MLS so far. “In Colombia, in my culture, with my family, I didn’t take much care of [things like] preparing my meals. My mom would take care of one thing or another.”

What he’s admired about his new home, however, is the way the club treats players.

“Here, we have things easy: professional care, nutrition, recuperation, infrastructure,” said Atuesta of the expansion side. “In Colombia these things are not as easy.”

A native of Velez in the department of Santander, Atuesta joined LAFC from Independiente Medellin, where he was a product of the club’s youth academy and appeared 44 times for the senior side after his debut in April of 2016.

One thing he hadn’t yet done for El Rojo Paisa is score. That’s something he resolved in only his seventh appearance — and second start — in MLS. In the 31st minute of Minnesota United’s visit to Banc of California Stadium last week, the Colombian calmly received a pass from Diego Rossi, turned and dinked the ball into the corner of the net.

“My first goal in a different league, in a different country, in a club that is new, with our people, with my girlfriend in the stands,” Atuesta remembers of his match-winning strike. “It was a happy day for me.”

His strong play in the 2-0 victory earned the Colombia U-20 national team captain a third consecutive start in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against New York City FC. Although his handball allowed David Villa to put the Cityzens ahead, the LAFC midfielder put in another box-to-box shift to help his team secure points at home.

“It’s very good to have players of good quality with you,” said Atuesta in his native Spanish when asked about his inclusion to LAFC’s starting XI. “It makes your work easier. I hope to continue on this path.”

To that end, Atuesta feels Bob Bradley and his staff are helping grow his game in all aspects, lessons he hopes he can implement on Saturday in Portland (3 pm ET | FOX - Full TV & Streaming Info).

“It's a complicated match,” said the midfielder ahead of LAFC’s first away trip after an unbeaten four-game homestand. “The difficult part is the field is synthetic, so that complicates our game.”

Atuesta and many other players and coaches from LAFC and visiting teams alike have grown to love the top-class Bermuda grass pitch at Banc of California. But there are still details to adjust for when they travel.

“We are a team that plays very well with the ball and always want the ball on the ground, take touches and keep a lot of possession,” he explained, noting that whatever the playing surface, LAFC are looking to continue their strong start to their inaugural season.

“The intent is to win three points in Portland.”