ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN THE BUBBLE
After being in the MLS Is Back Tournament Bubble at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex for well over a week, LAFC is beginning to develop a bit of a ‘new normal,’ as the Club settles into his routine of evening practices and feeling more comfortable with the unique living situation.
“I think for all the teams that are still here, the confidence with the situation in the bubble is high,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “As things have settled down, finding that confidence and finding a routine, that really makes a difference.”
Bradley has stressed the importance of keeping the players on a routine as close as possible to what they would be doing during the regular season in Los Angeles. With the team playing its next two games late in the evening – 10:30 pm ET kick-off, Bradley has even kept the team on a West Coast schedule.
“We have stayed on a version of a West Coast schedule,” Bradley said. “So the mornings are slow, after breakfast we have a window where guys can come in and work out and then we train at night. It helps us stay on that training schedule for games and will hopefully have us feel more like it is a 7:30 p.m. kick.”
“Both the physical and mental aspects are very crucial in a tournament like this,” LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta said. “The mental aspect of feeling fresh and relaxed, and wanting to create a fun and positive environment within the group, so we can play better.”
LAFC forward Adrian Perez, who showed promise throughout the 2020 preseason and early in LAFC’s first two matches, remains sidelined with a left hamstring strain. Bradley said the injury has been bothering Perez since the Club arrived in Orlando.
Adama Diomande made his 2020 MLS debut on Monday, coming off the bench and replacing Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 77th minute. Dio played only 17 minutes before leaving with a right foot injury.
“Dio had an MRI,” Bradley said. “It is nothing major, but he felt a little something in his foot. We are hopeful that he’s going to be back in training in the coming days, but we are not sure yet if that means he will be available vs. the Galaxy.”
WAITING ON NAJAR
LAFC signed Honduran National Team defender and former MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar on June 17 from Belgian club RSC Anderlecht. The 27-year old who burst on the scene with D.C. United as a 16-year old in 2010 is slowly working his way back into shape after a knee injury shortened his season in 2018 and then cut short his successful 2019 when he was hurt playing for Honduras in the run-up to the Gold Cup.
When healthy, the talented and experienced Najar is expected to be a difference maker for LAFC, but the Club is taking his return to action slowly.
“Andy is in parts of training,” Bradley said. “We are hopeful, but we are also going to be conservative with him given how long it has been since he played a match.”
Najar hasn’t played in over a year – last appearing on June 5, 2019 in a friendly for Honduras vs. Paraguay. He played 30 minutes before suffering a severe knee injury. He last played a league match May 16, 2019 for Anderlecht.
“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.”
Two of the newest additions to the LAFC – Galaxy rivalry are already well acquainted, before they even take the pitch in MLS. LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer, who joined the team in the off-season from Feyenoord in the Dutch Eredivisie does remember facing off against the Galaxy’s newest signing – Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
Before arriving in MLS, Vermeer played 16 seasons in Holland for Willem II, Ajax and Feyenoord. Playing with Ajax during the 2012 Europa League, Vermeer was dealt a knock-out blow from Hernandez, who scored two times against in each leg as Manchester United eliminated Ajax.
“I know him from Europe,” Vermeer said. “He’s a striker, he knows where the goal is. He is a striker who is smart, and he waits for the right moment and gets in position. He has a good feeling as a striker.”
Vermeer has one thought as he looks ahead to the match-up with Galaxy and the rematch with Hernandez.
“For me, it is time to not let that happen again.”
LIVE FROM THE BUBBLE…IT’S JORDAN HARVEY AND MARK ANTHONY KAYE
For a peek behind the scenes about what the LAFC players are REALLY up to in the Orlando bubble, be sure to check out defender Jordan Harvey’s diary in the Los Angeles Times. So far, Harvey has penned two installments and helps shed some light on what life is like in between practices and games.
LAFC midfielder Mark Anthony Kaye is also letting fans into his world during the MLS Is Back Tournament. The MLS All-Star hosts the MAK Show every Friday morning at 8:15 a.m. PT on the ESPN LA 710 Morning Show with hosts Keyshawn Johnson, LZ Granderson and Travis Rodgers.