Unfinished business comes in many different forms. None of which are as gleeful as Latif Blessing.
Just watch his reaction and listen to what he had to say after I asked him if the loss to Real Salt Lake in last year's playoffs will be on his mind when LAFC face them again on Saturday:
"It's payback, it's payback time," Blessing responded with a confident chuckle.
That kind of confidence is nothing new from Blessing. He's the type of player that believes anything is possible on the pitch. After seeing him pick up an assist at right back against Portland and then follow it up with another from a central role in midfield the next week at New York City FC, who could dispute Blessing's belief.
Teammates have often said Blessing is the heart and soul of the team. And while he's being openly confident his side will get its revenge this weekend, the rest of the vibe around training this week is a bit more even-keeled.
Bob Bradley's squad might just be playing it cool but there's a calmness around training this week when unfinished business is mentioned. The players aren't afraid to acknowledge it. They know Banc of California Stadium will have an electric atmosphere when they take the pitch on Saturday and they're prepared to meet that level. But the unfinished business isn't all about last season.
The loss to RSL last November was always about failing to grasp what was right in front of LAFC. It was never just about RSL or even the manner in which the loss happened. It was as if LAFC saw an open door with a prize at the top of the stairs and slipped on the first step.
Maybe it just wasn't LAFC's time last season. But that belief has been renewed and even fortified in Year Two. Unbeaten so far this season, the Black & Gold's mentality has been different to start this season. No longer are they learning they can do great things. They're fully aware of what their capable of this season.
So, yes, there's unfinished business. But it's not going to end there. LAFC just needs to take this step to move on to the next one.
News & Notes
- Lee Nguyen and Steven Beitashour have been in full training this week after missing the trip to NYC.
- LAFC will be without four players away on international duty this weekend: Mark-Anthony Kaye (Canada), Christian Ramirez (USA), Mohamed El-Munir (Libya), and Peter-Lee Vassell (Jamaica). The four players will return to training next week. They'll be evaluated by the staff before it's decided if they'll make the trip to San Jose next weekend.
- Three of LAFC four players on loan at Phoenix Rising FC saw action in the USL club's match with New Mexico United on March 16. Tristian Blackmon started and went the full 90 minutes at center back. Javi Pérez also started the match and played 89 minutes in midfield. While Shaft Brewer Jr. was a halftime substitute at right back in the 3-3 draw.