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Aboubacar Keita starts and shines in MLS Homegrown Game

Crew’s Keita plays first half against the Mexican U-20 side.

MLS: MLS Homegrown Game Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In the annual Major League Soccer Homegrown Game, a part of the MLS All-Star week, the home side defeated Chivas de Guadalajara’s Under-20 side in penalties 3-0 after a 2-2 draw in regulation. The game was played at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida and is the first major event of the yearly MLS All-Star Week.

The MLS Homegrown’s were able to equalize late in second half stoppage time to push the game to penalties where they were ultimately able to see out the victory. It was the second time the MLS team was able to equalize after going down by a goal.

The game was off to a quick start after a second minute goal by Chivas’s Irving Márquez. Only a minute later was New York Red Bulls player Omir Fernandez able to draw the Homegrown’s level.

About midway into the second half was when Chivas took another lead via a goal from Sebastian Martinez. While the game looked like it was going in favor of the away side, the Homegrown’s grabbed a 93 minute equalizer from Toronto FC’s Noble Okello to send the game into a penalty shootout. The Homegrown’s were then able to shut Chivas out in the shootout after two clutch saves from San Jose Earthquakes’ goalkeeper James Marcinkowski.

Columbus Crew SC Homegrown product Aboubacar Keita started for the MLS side at center back and played for the entire first 45 minutes. He was substituted just after halftime as part of a smorgasbord of changes for the side managed by Orlando City SC Academy Director Marcelo Neveleff.

Keita imposed his will on the Chivas U-20s during his time on the field while committing one foul. He put in a solid half for Neveleff’s side and is surely looking to build on his experience-filled 2019.

The Black & Gold defender has already had a stint in the Under-20 World Cup with the United State’s Men’s National team where he played a big role in helping the team advance to the quarterfinals.

In addition to the Homegrown game, Keita has logged five gamesm totaling 425 minutes of MLS play for the Crew under head coach Caleb Porter. He looks to be in the plans for Porter down the stretch as the Black & Gold are struggling with fitness at the center back position, already without Josh Williams, Gaston Sauro and Jonathan Mensah.

Following the MLS Homegrown Game, the MLS All-Star Game takes place on Wednesday, July 31 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida against Spanish juggernaut Atletico Madrid. Kickoff is at 8:00 pm.