In two matches with MLS competition this preseason, LAFC are undefeated. But they are also still looking for their first win. Sunday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps is a chance for the Club to get its first win.
“Obviously, getting a win would be tremendous,” rookie defender Tristan Blackmon said following training. “But if we can keep doing the little things that we are working on in training that will be a success for us.”
Integrating a squad of new players on the fly has been the challenge for coach Bob Bradley in preseason. So far, with a 2-2 draw against defending MLS Cup champions Toronto FC and a 1-1 draw against New York City FC, Bradley’s side has acquitted themselves well.
But that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement.
“We’ve established solid starting points for how we want to play. We have an understanding of what it looks like when we have the ball, lose the ball, transition, organization. But then once those things are established, there is the sharpening up of each part,” Bradley said of his team’s progress. “You use training and you use games to continue to get that part to the level that you want, to be a good team. So that part still needs work. But that’s not said in negative way, that’s a normal assessment for a team at this moment.”
Blackmon was one of the many players that saw extended minutes in the Club’s last preseason friendly. Against NYCFC, Carlos Vela got his first taste of MLS action, going the distance and nearly scoring in the draw. Joining Vela on the pitch for the full 90 that day were goalkeeper Tyler Miller and rookie defender Joao Moutinho.
After the match, Moutinho, LAFC’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, was singled out in particular by NYCFC coach Patrick Viera. The former Arsenal midfielder sought out the defender following the draw and commended him personally on his play.
The Whitecaps come into Sunday’s friendly fresh off an appearance in the 2018 Pacific Rim Cup in Hawaii. After defeating Iwaki FC of Japan 1-0 in the tournament’s opening match, the Whitecaps fell to Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo of Japan by the same score line in the final of the four-team tournament.
Vancouver faces USL side Las Vegas Lights FC two days before meeting LAFC on Sunday.
“It’s a very good match because you are playing someone you are going to play in the season,” LAFC forward Diego Rossi said of the upcoming match with Vancouver. “So it’s a very good preparation. I think that you are in the level of MLS and I think that is the best form of preparation.
“You always want to win and you’re very excited to win. But you also know that it is a friendly match and sometimes your final result is not the only thing to see.”