DIO OUT FOR TOURNAMENT
LAFC forward Adama Diomande has had a frustrating 2020 on the field. The clutch goalscorer suffered a broken right foot in a preseason game on January 31 vs. New York City FC, causing him to miss the rest of the preseason and the Concacaf Champions League and the first two regular season games.
Diomande was able to rehab and recover during the months off due to the pandemic, but his return was cut short as he re-injured the foot just 17 minutes after coming on as a substitute vs. Houston in the first game of the MLS Is Back Tournament.
“He came off in the first game, and there was some concern about his right foot again,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “There were some scans that we felt he needed to get so we can get a better idea of what continues to bother him with his right foot.”
After those 17 minutes, Dio’s tournament is officially over as he has returned to Los Angeles to receive further examination and treatment.
Former MLS Rookie of the Year and Honduran National Team player Andy Najar officially signed with LAFC on June 17 from Belgian club RSC Anderlecht. He has been continuing to work his way back into shape from a pair of serious injuries, and now it appears the talented defender is nearing a return.
“I think Andy for the first time, will be available for some minutes,” Bradley said. “He won’t start, he’s not ready for 60-90 minutes. I think the number is more in the 20-30 minute range.”
The 27-year old suffered a knee injury in 2018, and then another devastating injury in 2019 playing for Honduras. Najar last played a competitive match on June 5, 2019 in a friendly for Honduras vs. Paraguay. He played 30 minutes before getting injured. He last played a league match May 16, 2019 for Anderlecht.
“He’s been training really well,” Bradley said. “It is just a matter of building it up, step by step. He is a player that we know is going to really help us when he gets back into it and is ready to move forward.”
“We are very excited with what we see from him,” Bradley said. “We want to make progress with him in a way that makes sense as we move him along. We know he is a player who will fit in and really help us out.”
THREE FOR THE WIN
LAFC can win Group F in the MLS Is Back Tournament. A draw will also push them into the second round as the second team coming out of the group. But with these matches also counting as regular season games, Bradley is not approaching the last game of the group stage much differently.
“We’ve said from the beginning that these group matches count for regular season standings, so to get the win and finish with seven of the nine points would be fantastic,” Bradley said. “The added bonus is topping the group. We always try to be a team that steps up with a mentality to get three points to win the game, and that is going to be no different against Portland.”
LATIF THE VERSATILE
In his three seasons with the Black & Gold, Latif Blessing’s amazing versatility has been marveled at. The Ghana native has basically been deployed all over the field by Bradley – at some point playing nearly every position other than goalkeeper.
Blessing came to LAFC after one season in Kansas City, where he was used primarily on the wings. In LA, he plays centrally in the midfield, but also has had his moments as a forward, and most recently as a right back.
Against the Galaxy, Blessing played the majority of the second half on defense when Pancho Ginella and Jose Cifuentes subbed in the midfield, and that change helped launch LAFC to four second half goals and resounding 6-2 win.
With Adama Diomande officially ruled out of the tournament, Blessing will be counted on to once again fill multiple positions.
“Wherever Bob wants to play me, that is where I go,” Blessing said. “I like to play, I can play all over. I just try to give it my best. It is not hard for me to move like that. I just want to be on the field and I will play wherever they need me.”