On this week's Inside LAFC podcast with Max and Vince, we asked listeners to send us their questions via Twitter. It started slow but by the time we went to record, we had a good run of questions. More than we could answer in one episode.
Couple that with the time we spent with our special guest Tyler Miller, and we couldn't get to all the questions we wanted to - to hear our interview with Tyler and the answers to those questions subscribe to Inside LAFC on iTunes and Spotify or listen above.
It's not all bad news for those that didn't have their questions answered on the podcast because it gave me a chance to bring back the #AskLAFC mailbag for the first time this season. Let's get right to the questions:
We do have a good relationship with our neighbors... not those neighbors, I mean the LA Memorial Coliseum, of course.
I could definitely see this happening. Whether it's a half-and-half stadium remains to be seen. If it's an LAFC home match, you'd want that edge of having the bulk of the stadium awash in Black & Gold. So, yeah. I could imagine it would be something we could see in the future.
For those who may not know the current set up at the LAFC Performance Center, currently, there is one pitch at the facility. It is where the first team trains week in and week out. The Academy, thanks to our partnership with Cal State LA, trains at the CSULA campus next door. The possibility of adding more pitches for the first team and Academy has definitely been explored.
Building a training facility close to downtown LA was a feat in its own right. So, as you might imagine, it's a process. However, there has been one happy side effect of the sometimes tight quarters here at the Performance Center. In the Q&A I did with LAFC Academy Director Todd Saldaña, he spoke about how closely the first team and Academy staff work together on a daily basis. There are no walls here, physically and metaphorically, at the Performance Center between the two levels of LAFC teams.
The idea of having a unified philosophy from the top to bottom is put in practice every day between the two staffs. It's pretty cool to witness and I'd recommend reading the rest of that Q&A with Saldaña for more info on where the Academy is headed in the future.
My general vibe in regards to these things with LAFC is that the slow approach is the preferred option. And it makes sense, especially with muscular injuries like a hamstring pull and when you consider there's no substitute for match fitness - I know I sound like a broken record saying that but it's pretty much gospel in the sport at this point. I'd imagine with any player that is out for an extended period, expect them to get substitute appearances to build in-match fitness. Inserting a player right back into the starting 11 usually means you'll have to burn a substitute no matter what, and depending on how the match is going that might not be an area you want to change. So keep that in mind with any player returning from injury.
To answer the second question, the answer is easy and indisputable Thunderstruck plays before Juventus come out for warm-ups - LAFC coming out to California Love is a close second.
For the first part of this question, see the answer above regarding Dio. Players returning to the team will have to build strength first in training and then through cameo appearances in matches before being inserted back into the starting 11.
As for the second part, I'm here for the Latif-MAK-Atuesta midfield. The way they press and sure up the middle of the pitch against the opposition is one of the surprises of the season to me.
But as we've seen in recent weeks, some teams are going to forsake the midfield completely. That doesn't mean those three have no role. Part of what they do so well is the ability to win the ball back via the counterpress. Inserting Lee Nguyen into the mix adds a bit of guile to the midfield. He has a way of creating space for himself and then finding teammates in dangerous areas. I think that's something the coaching staff has to consider.
This sport is about tradeoffs and how you create advantages. LAFC definitely has options when everyone is healthy.
The short answer is closer to when the Academy is completely filled out. The U15s will be playing up a year next season, so we'll get a chance to see them put into difficult situations by essence of the age difference and increased level of physicality. That is going to be a big test.
But once we have a group of Academy players closer to the ages of most USL players and enough to fill out the bulk of the team, I think LAFC will reap the benefits of a USL side. As for where that team will reside, its name, etc. that's the long answer and something to be worked out in the couple of years it will take for the Academy to fill out its ranks.