LAFC went through its first training session in Orlando on Tuesday evening, kicking the ball around inside the MLS “bubble” at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in preparation for the first game of the MLS Is Back Tournament on July 13 vs. Houston.
“The guys did an excellent job the first day,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “They were excited to get out tonight and get the first training session in – get a little bit of the travel out of us and start to get some football going.”
The team arrived in Orlando Monday evening, and per MLS guidelines were immediately tested and then quarantined in their rooms throughout Tuesday before being cleared to practice.
“I thought the concentration and the mentality was good,” Bradley said. “Now that we’ve got the first training done, it sets up well for the next few days.”
Getting set up and establishing a new “normal” routine for his players is one of the most important factors and biggest challenges Bradley and the Club face in moving operations to Florida. Once training began again at the Performance Center in Los Angeles, the primary goal was creating a safe, and familiar environment for the team to practice in.
“Guys have had that confidence that when they came in every day, to our training facility, it is a safe place where while we cannot have the exact same routine as we normally do, but we can find an adjusted one that works and we can come in and enjoy training and being together,” Bradley said. “We are going to try in Orlando and get that and remind the players that it is about helping each other. As a group it is about staying together. There are big challenges to this type of situation in a bubble.”
To assist with the mental challenge of being sequestered on site and separated from family, Bradley is looking to establish a slightly different routine, with LAFC training in the evening to avoid the harshest heat of the Florida sun and attempt to stretch out the days. To do this, Bradley and the coaching staff will rely on their experience from coaching on football’s biggest stage – when Bradley led the United States in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and a win in Group C. During that World Cup, the U.S. team was tucked away at a luxury hotel north of Johannesburg.
“For the World Cup, we tried to find a way that the days would flow,” Bradley said. “We settled into a situation in South Africa where we trained in the afternoon, we found a way where guys could sleep in a little bit, have a window for breakfast and a period for gym work, have a late lunch and then go to training, and then come back after training and have a late dinner. That just seemed to make the days flow a little bit better, so we are going to be on a schedule like that in Orlando, and use that as the best way to find a routine and keep everybody going.”
Bradley gave the players credit for being disciplined and responsible in creating a safe training environment in L.A., and that they are looking forward to doing the same in Orlando.
“Every one of us, when we can get back on the field and train, that time is something that we still absolutely enjoy every day and we are excited to play games.”