With every coming day, the Black & Gold edge closer to the beginning of the 2021 MLS Season on April 17 when they host expansion side Austin F.C. With some intra-squad scrimmages under their belt, the LAFC squad is starting to come together for its fourth season with an eye on continued improvement.
“Competition this year is going to be fierce for getting on the field,” said LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley. “I'm really pleased with the way it's gone.”
The Club will also be gearing up for a closed-door exhibition match with the New England Revolution this Saturday, and this week’s training will be sure to carry an added level of intensity as positional battles continue.
Getting Everyone Up to Speed
The impact of COVID-19 on the rhythm of LAFC last season cannot be overlooked. After a strong preseason in 2020, quality time on the training pitch was limited due to the schedule.
“Preseason is all about getting everybody up to proper fitness, but it’s also about getting guys up to speed with how we play,” said LAFC veteran Jordan Harvey. “It allows everyone to understand our style, our identity. Then once they get up to speed, it’s up to them to take it to the next level.”
With real preparation time under the Club’s belt, expect more of the sharpness that embodied the 2019 LAFC squad.
More to Give In Midfield
The more things change, one thing that has remained constant for LAFC has been the steady play of midfielder Eduard Atuesta, one of seven players who has remained with the Club since its inception.
“Eduard Atuesta continues to be such an important player for us. His presence in the midfield, his intelligence, his creativity. We continue to try to push Edward along because he's such a talented player and we know that that he can do even more for us.”
Atuesta is joined in midfield by two other young players now entering their second training camp with Bradley who are expected to continue to progress as they get more acclimated to MLS.
“Both Francisco Ginella and José Cifuentes are players that we think have a lot more to give to our team. Cifu is a really talented young midfielder physically capable of doing some special things. With Pancho, we’re constantly working on sharpening some of his ideas.”
Some MLS clubs look at a player getting called in to their national team as a blessing and a curse, although one that remains an honor. The blessing is because of the prominence of being called up, the experience gained by playing on the global stage, and much more. A curse simply because the player sometimes misses out on valuable time with his teammates, such as during training camp.
For LAFC’s Bob Bradley though, someone who has been on both sides of the equation being both a club coach and national team coach – it’s all blessings as Mark-Anthony Kaye remains with the Canadian National Team, and goalkeeper Tomas Romero returns after being with the El Salvador U-23 Team in Olympic qualifying.
“We're always excited when guys go in with their respective national teams,” said Bradley. “In the moment Mark-Anthony Kaye is away. Mark is another really important player on our team. His understanding of the way we play makes training better every single day, but he'll get back next week and get some tests and a few days of quarantine - but we're so excited that he gets called in on a regular basis with Canada."