The training pitch at the LAFC Performance Center was ready and waiting.
Ahead of their match with Toronto FC on Saturday, Bob Bradley's team trained on California soil for the first time in 12 days to start the week. Consecutive matches away to Orlando City and Philadelphia kept the team away from home as it remained on the East Coast all of last week. With just two points to show for the two matches and back in the familiar confines of the Performance Center, LAFC looked to get back on track.
"Right now, we’re in a great spot but we still have four games to go," Steven Beitashour said after training on Wednesday. "We don’t want to go into the playoffs on a losing streak or low on confidence. We want to be high on confidence. We want to be flying into the playoffs and know that we’re confident in every single match that we play at Banc of California Stadium."
Going into Saturday's match, LAFC is without a win in four matches - the longest run without a win of the 2019 season for the Black & Gold. While they've managed to earn a point in three of those four matches though, Bradley and his team are focused on being back at their best and securing the first trophy in Club history.
"We want to continue to fine tune. We know that we still need important results to secure the Supporters' Shield," Bradley said, reflecting on his team's form heading into the final four matches of the season. "But you go through ups and downs. We went in this last stretch through some days we were missing some keys players either through international duty or injury. So now we’re just trying to refocus the group, make sure the little things are right, and be at our best as we wind down and get ready for the playoffs."
There remains a lot at stake for LAFC with just four matches to play in the season. The Black & Gold have already clinched a playoff spot and guaranteed the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. But the Supporters' Shield, which brings with it the possibility of hosting the MLS Cup final should LAFC progress that far, is within reach. A win against TFC and anything but an NYCFC win in Dallas on Sunday would cement LAFC as the best team in the 2019 regular season.
In addition to securing silverware, LAFC still has a chance at breaking numerous single-season records including most wins, most points, and most goals in a season. But Bradley reminded his team that despite its trajectory, it can always get better.
"We’re excited to finish the season in a good way. I remind the group always that when you look at the standings, when you look at the points, when you look at goals scored, goals given up, goal differential, there’s a lot of things that we can be proud of," Bradley said. "But now, we want to continue to the end to make those things better. So we’re positive and we yet continue to address small details so that we can continue to finish in top form.
News & Notes
- On Saturday, LAFC has a chance to go undefeated against Eastern Conference opponents in 2019. Through 13 matches, LAFC is 7-0-4 against teams from the opposing conference.
- Diego "Chiqui" Palacios participated in his first training sessions at the LAFC Performance Center this week. The Ecuadoran met up with the squad in Philadelphia last Thursday.
- Six LAFC players and head coach Bob Bradley are up for 2019 year-end awards. MLS published the full list of nominees and the awards they are up for on its website on Thursday.