There's been some noise recently around MLS and its playoff structure.
It was a topic that garnered some international attention, although probably not the kind the League was looking for. Much of that was down to the messenger in this instance. You can probably guess who it was. And you might even have your own opinion.
The gist of the point was MLS players have an inferior mentality due to the structure of the league. Teams celebrate even if they finish in seventh place because it provides the opportunity to be crowned champions by the end of the playoffs.
This past weekend, LAFC became the first team in 2019 to clinch a playoff spot. They did it in historic fashion, earning the berth with nine matches remaining in the season - the quickest of any MLS team in a 34-game regular season. Here's how the Black & Gold "celebrated" the achievement.
"This week's been no different than any other during the year," Bob Bradley said on Tuesday after training. "We've not talked one time about clinching a playoff spot. That wasn't a topic for a long time. We've just focused on the week to week part of getting better and handling tough games when they come."
Alright then. How about you Tyler Miller, job done now that you guys are in the playoffs?
"We were obviously happy to clinch the playoffs because that's something that is difficult every year to do. But we realize that this team is capable of so much more," Miller told the media after training. "We know that this season isn't even close to being over really. We have nine games left and we have so much more that we want to achieve. Supporters' Shield being No. 1.
"We know that individually, we have to focus on each game. That's how we are going to achieve the things we want and win the championships that we want to win this year."
As Bradley and Miller pointed out, the goal has never been to make the playoffs or even be the quickest to do so. It's about reaching for the maximum of what LAFC is capable of accomplishing in 2019. That's the everyday mentality the team takes into matches and training.
So, don't expect Bradley and co. to let off the gas pedal.
"There's a desire to win every game. How many games do we have left? Nine games. To win all nine games, that's our desire," Bradley said. "And then, playoffs. To win all the playoff games.
"And if we lose one? The desire is to respond and then win all the rest of the games after that."
News & Notes
- Brian Rodríguez will not be available or LAFC's match on Wednesday against San Jose at Banc of California Stadium. LAFC's newest Designated Player is still awaiting the approval of his visa paperwork from U.S. immigration officials. The Club is working hand in hand with officials and is confident the situation will be resolved soon.
- Three LAFC players saw action while on loan in the USL last week. Peter-Lee Vassell came in as a substitute in the 80th minute of a 4-2 Phoenix Rising win. Fito Zelaya and Dejan Jaković both got starts for the Las Vegas Lights in a 3-0 defeat to Orange County SC. Zelaya played 81 minutes, while Jaković went the full 90.
- Mohamed El-Munir has rejoined his teammates in full training this week. Wearing a mask as protection after surgery to repair a fracture to his right cheekbone, El-Munir has no restrictions and is available for selection beginning this Wednesday.