If LAFC Supporters were unclear of the stage of the season we find ourselves in, they have to look no further than the Black & Gold's last match, a physical 1-1 draw with the Galaxy.
"I think what we saw against the Galaxy fits with what we have emphasized in these last few weeks. And that is that games get even more physical," Bob Bradley said after training on Tuesday. "The ability to understand the kind of game you are in as a team, not give anything away on that side of it and not let it interfere with the football you want to play, but understand that concentration and fighting as a group, as a team to deal with the game, that part in this period is important."
Against the Galaxy, LAFC was caught on its heels a bit in the first 15 minutes, as the Galaxy flooded forward from the opening kickoff and sent ball after ball long to force 1v1 duels in LAFC's backline. Zlatan Ibrahimović bullied his way into the area a few times before nudging a ball just over the goal line to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute - a play that needed VAR for confirmation of the goal. But it was a foul by Rolf Feltscher on Diego Rossi in the 18th minute where LAFC really came to grips with the type of match they were in for.
"We understood what was on the table right from the start. That’s how the game began. That’s the way they wanted to go after Diego. That wasn’t by accident, that was by choice," Bradley said of Feltscher foul, for which the Galaxy defender received the first of his team's five yellow cards on the night.
Seeing Feltscher only cautioned for such a cynical challenge still bothers Bradley, but the reaction he saw immediately from his team had the LAFC head coach impressed.
"As the team we stood up for each other, we kept playing. Diego shows again, for a young player, the ability to keep going and keep trying to go at people. He has a couple of more fouls he wins," Bradley said. "The idea that now these kinds of games happen, our ability to keep playing our football and to stick up for one another, I think we got tested in those ways against the Galaxy. I think we would have liked three points, but we saw a lot of good things."
LAFC now head to Toronto with just eight matches remaining in the season. Sitting third in the Western Conference, Bradley's team is in a good position and in control of its destiny. But the head coach has assured his side that while the season has been grueling to this point, there is still an even tougher stretch ahead.
"In MLS, there’s almost four seasons. There is the early part of the year, when everybody is still trying to get their feet on the ground. Weather isn’t usually a factor, fields aren’t always great. Then you get to the summer, which can include some really hot and humid days depending on the location of the game. It includes obviously at times World Cups, Golds Cups, or Euros, so now you’ve got other factors that play into the summer. You’ve got the final part of the regular season, where there is a little bit more of fighting for points and just teams doing anything to survive. Then there are the playoffs.
"We’re definitely entering into the third part."
News & Notes
- In the wake of Laurent Ciman's transfer, LAFC have recalled rookie defender Tristan Blackmon from his loan stint with Phoenix Rising FC. Blackmon was back in training with the squad on Tuesday.
- After training on Wednesday, Bob Bradley was asked to comment on the retirement of Clint Dempsey. Bradley, of course, coached Dempsey with the U.S. Men's National Team, which included the 2010 World Cup. Bradley had this to say of Dempsey: "Clint and I shared a lot of good days. Great player, fantastic competitor, and I wish him and his family the best."
- Mexico and Costa Rica announced their squads for the upcoming FIFA International Friendlies Sept. 3-11. Carlos Vela and Marco Ureña weren't included in either squad. After playing for their respective national teams this summer at the World Cup in Russia, Vela and Ureña will get the benefit of a much needed travel break in this international window.