The Black & Gold wrapped up their third training session of the MLS Is Back Tournament Thursday evening under the lights at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex as the team gets closer to its first match on July 13 vs. Houston.
With players slowly adjusting to their new existence inside the MLS “bubble”, anxieties begin to fade away as the first three tournament matches are in the books, allowing LAFC to continue to focus on the work of training.
HOT START #1
LAFC head coach Bob Bradley has been pleased with the sharpness of training in the first week, and veteran defender Jordan Harvey is also happy with the way the Club has been able to turn their attention to getting ready to play the Dynamo.
“The sessions have been good,” Harvey said. “They have been sharp. It has been a good build-up and a good preparation for us. We haven’t just hit the ground running – we’ve really built into this which is smart.”
The Club will enjoy a day off on Friday, before diving into final evening practices on Saturday and Sunday.
“I feel very good,” LAFC defender Eddie Segura said. “We gave 100 percent during our first sessions this week, and with the best possible attitude. We have started to really prepare for what is to come.”
Eddie Segura has seen already seen a lot in his 23 years. The native of Pereira, in the heart of Colombia’s famed “Coffee Axis” made his professional debut for his hometown club as a 16-year old, quickly moved up the ranks in Colombia and then five years later found himself as a key starter raising the Supporters' Shield at Banc of California Stadium.
But he has never seen anything quite like playing soccer in a “bubble”.
“Everything is a bit strange in the bubble,” Segura said. “No one has ever really experienced something like this. At the same time, we feel safe and all the planning has been great. [Our staff] has protected the entire group, but we need to make sure that each of us are always following protocol. We must adapt quickly so that we can be ready.”
HOT START #2
As expected, adjusting to the sizzling, soupy humidity of Orlando in July has been difficult. To combat the heat of the day, LAFC continues to train in the evenings, something that players are learning to get used to.
“Generally, we are a morning team,” Harvey explains. “We have that 10 a.m. session and you ramp up early for that and then have the rest of the day to recover. Here, we are resting most of the day and then jumping into sessions at night.”
An MLS veteran, Harvey has been sure to not venture out too much during daylight hours.
“I haven’t been outside really at all during the day,” Harvey said. “But when we come out for the training sessions at night around 7 p.m., when the sun is going down, it really cools off quite a bit.”
It took Segura the first three practice sessions to adjust and acclimate to the weather.
“The climate is a bit different,” Segura said. “Here there is a lot of humidity and you can physically feel it a bit more. The humidity, as well as the pitch surface, takes a toll on you, but we showed up prepared and ready to do our best. We will continue to do what we need to ahead of the start of our tournament.”
FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND AGE OLD TRIVIA
Officially announced by the Club on July 8 as one of the first three LAFC Academy players to sign with the first team, Christian Torres is in the midst of collecting some surreal professional firsts.
His first MLS road trip is this extended visit to Orlando, while his first official first team practices are coming on an auxiliary field far from the LAFC Performance Center.
But Torres has an opportunity to make history during the MLS Is Back Tournament. Not only will he be the first Academy player to appear in an MLS regular season match, but at 16 years old, he will become by far the youngest player on the pitch in Club history, easily beating out the previous record-holder Shaft Brewer Jr., who was 18 years and 217 days old when he made his debut on June 2, 2018 in Dallas.
The oldest player to appear in an LAFC game, Harvey (35 years and 251 days) has been impressed with Torres so far.
“Christian is really quiet,” Harvey said. "Obviously as a young kid coming into this environment, I would be surprised if he were talking all the time – that would probably be a bad thing. But he has come in and worked hard. He has listened and been respectful of all the guys and I am happy for all three of these young guys. I have been here since the beginning and I have seen them train with us during the first year, the second year, and now it is their time. It is a proud moment for LAFC, but also a proud moment for some of the players who have seen them grow throughout the years.”
While Torres will become the youngest player to appear in an LAFC match when he makes his debut, do you know who is the youngest LAFC player to start in a game? Or score a goal?
-Youngest LAFC player to start a game: Brian Rodriguez – 19 years, 104 days on Sept. 1, 2019 vs. Minnesota.
-Youngest LAFC player to score a goal: Diego Rossi – 19 years, 364 days on March 4, 2018 at Seattle
-Youngest LAFC player to play a game as a goalkeeper: Pablo Sisniega – 23 years, 356 days on June 28, 2019 at Colorado
-Youngest LAFC player to record a shutout: Tyler Miller – 24 years, 357 days on March 4, 2018 at Seattle.
-Oldest LAFC player to score two goals in a game: Carlos Vela – 30 years, 219 days on Oct. 6, 2019 vs. Colorado