With two draws from two matches this preseason, Bob Bradley knows his LAFC team still has a ways to go. But that’s not a bad thing.
“You use training and you use games to continue to get to the level that you want, to be a good team. So that part still needs work,” Bradley said following training on Tuesday. “But that’s not said in negative way, that’s a normal assessment for a team at this moment.”
In LAFC’s last preseason match, Bradley watched his team jump out to an early lead thanks to a 16th minute goal from forward Marco Ureña. But at times he felt his side conceded too much ground to New York City FC. NYCFC would eventually equalize midway through the second half to earn a draw.
“I thought against NYCFC, the starting points for our wide attacking players at times was too deep. Why does that happen? That happens because they have a winger high and they push an outside back high,” Bradley said. “That’s just something we spoke about at halftime of the game and showed [the team] in video. It’s just a team that by the way they push people on at times creates situations that we have to look at. Having said that, we also had many moments in that game where when we did see the right time to step up and put them under pressure, and we did it. And those wide players were involved as part of that. There were good moments of winning the ball but other moments where we probably backed up too much.”
Against NYCFC, Carlos Vela made his LAFC preseason debut going the full 90 minutes. Partnering Benny Feilhaber at the top of a midfield three, Vela nearly won the match late when his left-footed shot beat the NYCFC goalkeeper, but not the post.
Vela’s inclusion in the midfield was a bit of a surprise having solely been used at the front of Bradley's 4-3-3 throughout training camp. For Bradley it was another step towards being prepared for the season.
“Carlos has played in the midfield. What you saw is us wanting to make sure that at a certain point this season, if we want to play that way, we’ve done it,” Bradley said. “We’re still at a point where we’re trying to build our midfield.
“As a result, that was the way we wanted to start that game. The balance in your team if you play 4-3-3, the advanced midfielders, depends on your options and your choices. We want players in there that are good footballers, that help us have control of the game in the right moments, and that can go forward.”
News & Notes
- Pol Calvet Planellas and Jordan Jones are no longer training with the LAFC after not being offered contracts with the team. Planellas and Jones were part of LAFC’s first MLS SuperDraft in Club history. Planellas was taken with the first pick of the second round (24th) and Jones was selected in the third round (47th).
- After the NYCFC match, Bradley noted LAFC was still after a midfielder or two to round out the squad before the start of the season. At training, he elaborated on the type of midfielder the Club is looking to sign: “We need more quality in the midfield. To control games, your ability in the midfield is important. To be good with the ball when the other team comes after you. To still have ways to shut down the midfield defensively and make it difficult on the opponent. Rather than saying we’re looking for this specific profile, you’re looking at different players and your judging the quality of all of them. So sometimes you don’t want to lock yourself into a specific profile and then in the end there is a better player available that is slightly different.
- Away from the pitch, the squad is settling in nicely and Bradley thinks he has “a great group of guys” in the dressing room. A key to the team’s settling in has been the location of the first training camp in Club history. “The setup of everything, where we train at UCLA and these guys living together rather than being away for preseason, guys could be here and figure out where they could live and start to settle in. I think our people deserve a lot of credit for the way they have worked with UCLA. And I thank, UCLA. Because the setup for us every day, in terms of coming in and getting good work done, has been first class.”