Fresno FC's Renato Bustamante celebrates after scoring the go-ahead goal in Thursday's exhibition. / Photo by Jordan Wiebe, Fresno FC
SANTA BARBARA, Calif., - Fresno FC took an early lead from Renato Bustamante’s header against MLS squad LA Galaxy in Thursday’s preseason exhibition, but the Foxes fell 3-1 at UC Santa Barbara’s Harder Stadium.
“I think the first half we competed very, very well. I felt like we were looking to be 2 or 3-1 up at half, actually,” said head coach Adam Smith. “We've got to keep the competitiveness going and keep the tempo of the game going. Some guys did it, and some guys have a bit more work to do. But it's preseason, we expect that. The main reason for game and exercises is to get minutes for the guys. All I wanted to do from the start is compete, and I think we did that. To be honest, I think we've surprised a few people from what we did in the first 45, really 55 minutes. "
Bustamante, the former Fresno Fuego and Fresno Pacific star, put Los Zorros in front in the 18th minute, heading in the club’s first goal off an assist from Alex Cooper.
Fresno FC's Jemal Johnson / Photo by Jordan Wiebe, Fresno FC
It was an impressive start for the USL expansion franchise, with captain Juan Pablo Caffa beginning the play near midfield, where he passed to winger Jemal Johnson, who turned to find Cooper on the run. Cooper, a preseason trialist, dribbled the ball into the corner and flicked it inside to find Bustamante for the connection.
The Foxes held their ground against Galaxy, hindering LA’s attack before Sebastian Lletget’s header that made it 1-1 at the break.
The tie didn’t hold in the second half, as Galaxy would score two more goals, both on set pieces, to win 3-1.
Fresno FC returns to the San Joaquin Valley for the remainder of its preseason, with the next game on Saturday, Feb. 24 against Fresno Pacific University.
First half: 1, FFC, Renato Bustamante (Alex Cooper assist), 18th minute; 1, LAG, Sebastian Lletget, 26th.
Second half: 2, LAG, Chris Pontius, 50th; 3, LAG, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, 77th.
About Fresno Football Club
Fresno Football Club, the Central Valley’s first professional soccer club, is a member of the United Soccer League (USL). The club opens its inaugural season in March 2018 and will host home matches at Chukchansi Park in beautiful downtown Fresno. FFC exists to provide a top-class, inclusive and dynamic sporting experience in one of the nation’s most diverse regions.