Tottenham to LAFC: Hugo Lloris brings "sense of security" in MLS debut


LOS ANGELES – A little over a year ago, Hugo Lloris was France’s starting goalkeeper at the 2022 World Cup Final in Qatar, an epic match vs. Lionel Messi’s Argentina on the biggest stage.

Along with a Les Bleus-record 145 appearances, an illustrious career for Tottenham Hotspur helped mold a confident player through ups and downs.

But it had been about 10 months since his last competitive game, so there were still some nerves as he made his Major League Soccer debut Saturday afternoon in LAFC’s 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC.

“The first game is always special, it doesn’t matter your experience,” Lloris said on opening weekend. “I felt good during the game even if I need to work on some aspects of my game.”

Setting the tone

Any doubts the 37-year-old might have had were immediately put to the test, as he was left 1-v-1 with Jordan Morris just two minutes into the match. But as Lloris has done countless times, he came up with a massive save that helped set the tone at BMO Stadium.

Yet so much of what the 2018 World Cup champion has already provided during his short time with LAFC is not something you necessarily see on the field. It’s beyond being an elite ‘keeper; it’s about being a mentor as well.

“He has a calmness to him, doesn’t feel pressured, has real-time answers for the guys and input,” explained head coach Steve Cherundolo. “He gives our back line and entire team a sense of security, which we’ve had over the past couple of years, but in my opinion a little more now.”

Defensively, LAFC seemed composed against a formidable opponent that’s expected to be among the heavyweights in the Western Conference – aside from one major moment that led to a penalty kick goal from Seattle debutant Pedro de la Vega (73’).

That was the only time Lloris conceded, as he finished with seven saves and got help when new teammates Timothy Tillman (45’) and Mateusz Bogusz (55’) scored golazos. Yet Lloris knows he’s not back at full fitness and sharpness, and the competitor in him surfaced when he evaluated his performance.

“To be honest, I was not really happy with my distribution today because we walked through things in training,” Lloris revealed. "But when we were on the field today, there was a lot of misunderstanding between us.”

More to come

Even that self-critique is arguably nitpicking, as Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer noted postgame that Lloris' distribution was a big component of sparking LAFC’s fast-paced offense on multiple occasions.

The growth potential, once Lloris settles into LAFC, could be monumental for a club that’s made back-to-back MLS Cups (winning in 2022) and just set a league record by winning their seventh-straight home opener.

So far, he seems to be fitting in perfectly.

“The atmosphere in the stadium was just amazing,” said Lloris, who’s replacing now-Portland Timber Maxime Crépeau as the Black & Gold’s starter.

“The expectation from the fans creates a lot of motivation to all the players, people from LAFC and makes us very ambitious.”