What Hugo Lloris can bring to MLS

Alyssa Clang, Yardbarker

Lionel Messi and Thiago Almada won’t be the only World Cup winners competing for the MLS Cup next year.

French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who won the Cup in 2018, has signed with LAFC for the 2024 season with extension options for 2025 and 2026.

“Hugo is arguably the most successful goalkeeper of his generation and a proven winner,” LAFC general manager John Thorrington said. “We are incredibly excited that Hugo has chosen LAFC for the next phase of his illustrious career.”

Lloris began his playing career in Nice before getting his big break with Olympique Lyonnais in 2008. In four years with the club, Lloris won Ligue 1’s Goalkeeper of the Year award three times, becoming France’s undisputed number-one keeper in the process.

In 2012, Lloris joined London-based club Tottenham Hotspur and established himself as the team’s starting goalkeeper. He spent eleven years with Spurs, leading the team through several contentious managerial changes in his role as club captain. He also captained the French national team to astounding heights during this time, leading Les Bleus to second place in the 2016 European Championships, first place at the 2018 World Cup, and second place at the 2022 World Cup. The French national team remained in the top five of FIFA’s global men’s soccer rankings for much of Lloris’s captaincy.

Lloris’s departure from Spurs stems from his age: he’s 37, just past his prime, and struggling to keep up with young Italian prospect Guglielmo Vicario. But his move to LAFC is no ‘retirement league’ decision like David Beckham’s in 2007 or Gareth Bale’s in 2022. Lloris still has a few competitive years left in him and should bring a wealth of experience and practical ability to LAFC.

There are many kinds of ‘great’ goalkeepers. Germany’s Manuel Neuer is a ball-playing ‘sweeper keeper’, for instance, while Argentina’s Emi Martinez is a mentality-driven shot-stopper. Lloris’s unique skill lies in one-on-one situations; he makes excellent decisions during stressful opposition breaks and is rarely fazed by quick attacks. He’s not the best set-piece defender, but crucially, MLS isn’t the best set-piece league, meaning he’ll face far fewer legitimate free-kick and corner goalscoring opportunities in the States than he did in his years with Spurs.

Lloris’s arrival, then, should be celebrated by LAFC fans. But it does raise an important question: what will become of LAFC’s existing goalkeeper, Canadian Maxime Crepeau? 

Crepeau was one of the most consistent goalkeepers during the 2023 MLS season, leading his team to the Cup Final last December. Several MLS franchises, including Atlanta United, FC Montreal and cross-town rivals LA Galaxy, could use a goalkeeper of Crepeau’s caliber.

But two MLS destinations make more sense than the rest: New England and Charlotte.

New England could be interesting for Crepeau because of its goalkeeping heritage. The club, thanks to tireless work from goalkeeping coach Kevin Hitchcock, has sent two consecutive keepers to the Premier League in Matt Turner and Djordje Petrovic. He, and the wider Revolution environment, could be an excellent fit for Crepeau.

Alternately, if Crepeau isn’t scared of a project, there’s a lot to like about the rebuild of Charlotte FC. English coach Dean Smith, famous for leading both Norwich City and Aston Villa through Premier League promotion cycles, is looking to restart the Queen City club and could use Crepeau’s experience along the way.

Alyssa Clang, Yardbarker www.yardbarker.com Soccer,Tottenham Hotspur,Inter Miami,Atlanta United,LA Galaxy,Hugo Lloris,Lionel Messi,Thiago Almada

2024-01-02 02:37:00 , Yardbarker: LA Galaxy

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