Less than a month to go until the tournament in Russia, the World Cup was the buzz around LAFC training this week.
The 32 countries participating in the 2018 event had to hand in their preliminary squads to FIFA on Monday, ahead of announcing official 23-man squads on June 4. With most of the squads becoming public, it was learned LAFC had a league-high four players named to World Cup squads.
Omar Gaber (Egypt), Steven Beitashour (Iran), and Carlos Vela (Mexico) were all named to their country's preliminary squads. While Marco Ureña was named as part of Costa Rica's official 23-man squad for Russia. A fifth LAFC player, Laurent Ciman, could be World Cup-bound when Belgium names its squad on May 21.
"Definitely exciting," Beitashour said after training on Tuesday. "It's something that I've been waiting for four years just to get called back in, since the last World Cup. Just trying to get more call ups, more caps. I'm happy to be a part of that list, but I know there's still a lot of work to get to the final 23."
Gaber echoed his teammates sentiment when asked about being named to the Egyptian squad.
"It's an honor to represent your national team in a big competition like the World Cup," Gaber said. "I'm so happy. Still a lot of work I have to do. They named 29, it has to be 23. So still a lot I have to do. I have to work more."
Faced with the possibility of being without five players for a month or more, Bob Bradley called it a special moment for the Club, noting when you have that many players called to a World Cup, "you must be doing something right."
News & Notes
- Adama Diomande arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. He visited LAFC training on Thursday and had a chance to reunite with Bradley, who was his coach at Stabæk when the striker scored 25 goals in 26 matches across all competitions. Asked how quickly Diomande will adapt to playing with LAFC, Bradley said the Norwegian should have no problems: "It's a good relationship. He's a good man. I know how he plays, I know how he thinks, and the way we worked together, we can pick up on that and keep going. That was good football."
- When Diomande came out to meet with players and staff after training, Bradley and the striker had a quick moment to chat and joke a bit about being back together. Asked when Bradley last saw Diomande in person, the coach said it had to be the day the player left to take his physical with Hull City.
- Diomande confirmed he will wear No. 99 this season for LAFC.