The preseason is really about two things: fitness and preparation. But anytime you get a chance to test your level against the defending champs, it's definitely a good thing.
LAFC will get that chance on Sunday. Atlanta United are in town to face the Black & Gold in a closed-door scrimmage at Banc of California Stadium. The preseason match will be Atlanta's first at the Banc, and although three points won't be on the line this time, they'll return to LA again in July.
Bob Bradley has already said his team was excited to face the MLS Cup holders this week, so let's take a look at this preseason friendly:
LAFC vs Atlanta United
With their Concacaf Champions League date with Herediano of Costa Rica looming on Feb. 21, the Five Stripes are rounding into form at the right time. They hammered the Seattle Sounders 7-1, before beating a Tijuana Xolos reserve team 6-1 in midweek.
What The Team Is Saying
Bob Bradley on facing the MLS Cup winners: "Very excited for the match against Atlanta. It’s a chance to see where we stand against a team that won MLS Cup last year. So, it’s something we are looking forward to."
Tyler Miller on last season's meeting with Atlanta United: "We're not really worried about last year's results. It was early on in our season and we were a new team. We hadn't had a lot of chemistry up until that point. I think this time we'll see what happens, but I don't think it will be similar to last year's game."
What To Watch For
Players Getting More Minutes: After Friday's training session, Bob Bradley said he expected more players to go deeper into this match. To this point, most players have been putting in 45 minutes in preseason matches with a few individuals playing more minutes. Against Atlanta, we should see more players featuring for 60 minutes or more, as players continue to up their fitness levels.
Tough Test: Points are not on the line but players are here to compete. For what it's worth, the timing of this preseason match coupled with Atlanta coming in as the defending champs should result in a match with high levels of effort and intensity. That being said, it is still preseason. Players need to stick to the game model. The opponent shouldn't change the way LAFC approach any given match, preseason or not.