After a two week hiatus from match play punctuated by an international break, LAFC were back in training this week with a significant objective in sight.
"You manage international breaks slightly differently. And then as you get into the end, and you get closer to games, everybody can refocus and be excited about a game," Bob Bradley said of the team's training over the past two weeks. "In this case, with [the game] carrying special weight, the derby against the Galaxy, everybody is ready."
LAFC's six players sent on international duty were tops in MLS along with Toronto FC. With five of the six returning players part of the starting lineup of the Club's first two matches of the season, there could be some rotation in Bradley's starting XI against the Galaxy. But as of now, the head coach is taking a wait and see approach.
"We’ll see. When they get back we’ll size them all up," Bradley said regarding his returning players, who are expected back at training on Thursday. "Guys come back knowing what game is coming up. And I think they will be very excited."
Adding to the hype around the rivalry, of course, is the Galaxy's recent acquisition of Zlatan Ibrahimović. The former Manchester United and PSG player is said to be available to play a part on Saturday, a possibility Bradley says LAFC will be ready for in addition to the possible return of Jonathan dos Santos, Gio dos Santos, and Romain Alessandrini from injury.
"Things are quiet in their camp," Bradley said. "My guess is they are still trying to push guys as hard as they can to be ready. When you prepare for games like this, you prepare for everybody. And most importantly, we focus on our football and our identity. And we try to go in and do our best."
"Anytime there’s two teams in one city, there’s a derby and a rivalry. The first chance to step on the field is special because first impressions mean a lot. From our end, it’s just about taking the things that we worked on from day one and some sense of what we’re all about as a team, stepping on the field, and playing our best."
- Defender Omar Gaber was injured in 51st minute Egypt's friendly match with Greece. Bradley said the team doctors will evaluate Gaber when he arrives later Wednesday evening, but he had spoken with the player and he was in good spirits.
- Arriving from Colombia after the RSL match, new signing Eduard Atuesta has had two very good weeks of training and Bradley says he will be in the 18 for LAFC on Saturday. Whether or not he features from the start depends on the fitness of players returning from international duty but there is a strong chance Atuesta sees time in the Galaxy match Bradley said.
- More on Ibrahimovic. Bradley had this to say about the Swedish international coming to MLS: "So much has been speculated for so long. I certainly wasn’t surprised. I think it’s great for the league. I think it’s great for Los Angeles. Zlatan is a big player. Huge personality. And so when a player like that comes into the League, then you see it as a big plus."
- Thursday's training session at UCLA will be the last for LAFC before it moves to its new state-of-the-art training facility on the campus of Cal State LA. After starting preseason at UCLA and spending just over two months on the campus, Bradley had the following to say: "We knew from the start that our training facility would open and we’d be excited for that. But this has felt like home since we started preseason. I just want to put out a big thank you to everyone at UCLA."