"Horta! Horta!" echoed around the Banc of California Stadium as the home supporters gave Bob Bradley little doubt who they most wanted to see enter the game.
In the 76th minute of El Trafico: Act II, those home supporters got what they'd been chanting for: Andre Horta stood at midfield, ready to make LAFC debut with his side up 2-0 against the Galaxy and threatening for a third.
Horta pleased the crowd with each early touch but was unable to reproduce similar debut magic that Zlatan Ibrahimovic enjoyed four months prior in the reverse fixture. After Romain Alessandrini pulled a goal back, LAFC were on the ropes.
Horta's debut will be defined by one disastrous moment: the instantly-infamous miscued backpass, springing Ola Kamara one-on-one with Tyler Miller. He rounded Miller and rolled the ball into the empty net, completing another improbable Galaxy comeback.
"I think it's just one mistake, we know he is a good player," Carlos Vela said after the game. "We know he can bring really great things for the team. He is young and he has to learn. I am here to try to help Horta and the other guys to be better players. And I hope every game he can be better."
Manager Bob Bradley echoed his star player's sentiment and is not worried about Horta.
“Andre Horta is going to be a very good player for us, and I feel very bad for him tonight, because when he comes on, we just remind him that at that point of the game to be smart," Bradley said. "His skill on the ball and his composure can make a difference for us, but he’s young, and in that respect, he’s been waiting a long time to get his chance, but obviously it’s a very bad decision to play a ball back from that part of the field."
Horta did, however, provide reasons for encouragement amid his cameo.
As he sprinted onto the pitch in place of Lee Nguyen to a loud roar from the crowd, Horta immediately got straight to business and completed a pass. He nearly got his first assist a minute later, dropping a well-weighted layoff for Adama Diomande to strike first time, which earned the team a corner.
Before Horta would touch the ball again, momentum evaporated from LAFC and swung to the Galaxy. Without the ball, Horta was powerless against the tidal wave of pressure the Galaxy put on their rivals as Alessandrini scored in the 83rd minute.
Then came the back pass. All of a sudden, LAFC squandered another multigoal lead late to the Galaxy.
To Horta's credit, he didn't pack it in and shy away from the ball thereafter. As LAFC restarted the game, Horta immediately looked to get on the ball in search of a game-winning goal. He nearly found the moment that fans so desperately craved. He received the ball in about 30 yards away from goal, stepped forward and struck a low left-footed shot that rattled the inside of the post.
What could have been.
All in all, Horta completed 8 of 12 passes, including one key pass to Diomande, and recovered possession once in an eventful 13 minutes. The 21-year-old was largely ineffective without the ball and showed flashes of promise sandwiched around a catastrophic mistake.
Horta was brought to the club from Benfica to play, and his integration into the first team will be accelerated due to Mark-Anthony Kaye's ankle fracture sustained earlier in the game. He can help form a potent midfield trio next to Nguyen and Benny Feilhaber in Kaye's absence.
Unfortunately for Horta, he won't get a second chance at a first impression. But he can change the narrative immediately with a few strong performances that his manager, teammates and supporters know he's capable of.