It's different for every player.
The way an athlete deals with a loss is as unique as each personality in the locker room. Some brush it off the moment they leave the pitch, others store it away as future motivation, and some guys you know to not even look at following a defeat.
For Walker Zimmerman, defeats are part of the equation when you compete at the highest levels. His personal process for dealing with a loss? Move on to the next quickly.
"I'd say that by the time in the locker room and finally get to the bus, if it's an away game, or get to my car, I kind of leave it all behind and spend time with my family," Zimmerman said after training at the LAFC Performance Center on Wednesday. "If I do watch it back again, it's just with an open mind and it's a learning experience, but I think the actual raw emotion, you've got to kind of let it go and it's on to the next game."
But how do you deal with a loss to your closest rival? Perspective in this instance is key.
"You're not excited, you're pretty upset, but at the same time you know that this is one game of 34," Zimmerman said of the 3-2 loss to the Galaxy last Friday. "Big picture, what we're trying to do is win a Supporters' Shield, get ourselves that No. 1 seed in the playoffs. and, ultimately, make an MLS Cup run at the Banc.
"These are things that we've said are our goals from the beginning, so there are going to be losses in a season. While it's not fun to lose, no one likes it, I think it's important that we bounce back, that we have a short memory, sulk about it for a little bit, and then make sure that the next day you go to training with it behind you and work towards the next game."
A short memory is something LAFC has displayed in its first two seasons in MLS. The Black & Gold have lost consecutive matches only twice in its history. In 2019, LAFC is a perfect three wins out of three following a loss in all competitions. In those three matches after a loss, they've outscored opponents 12-3.
"The idea is after losses to not go crazy. To still look at things that need to be improved," Bob Bradley said. "So often, it's just a continuation of ideas that have been there throughout and getting everybody refocused that as a good team the next game is important. A strong response is something that they want to shoot for. The guys have done a fantastic job at handling that part."
Bouncing back from the loss aside, LAFC's next match carries with it some added intrigue as it hosts Atlanta United. Last season, the 5-0 loss to Atlanta was one of the previously mentioned times in which LAFC lost consecutive matches. The fact that Atlanta arrives at Banc of California Stadium for the first time as the reigning MLS Cup champs and a team LAFC very much wants to emulate and even top in its second season is just more motivation for Bradley's side.
But at the end of the day, LAFC's drive comes from within - when you're top of the MLS standings like LAFC is now, the challenge to be better is mostly internal. The response to another big test on Friday will be the culmination of the work the team has put into its mentality over the last season and a half since joining MLS.
"We wouldn't be where we are as a team if we weren't all very, very confident in the way we train and the kind of work that gets done every day," Bradley said.
So for us, it's just getting back to it and get ready for the next match."
News & Notes
- Defender Mohamed El-Munir will undergo surgery on Friday to repair a zygomatic arc fracture he suffered in the final minutes of the match with the Galaxy.
- Carlos Vela became the fastest to 20 goals in MLS history with a converted penalty in the fourth minute against the Galaxy. Vela added a second in the match that was ultimately a consolation goal, but his combined 33 goals+assists (21 goals, 12 assists) this season through 21 matches have Vela just five short of the MLS all-time record set by Sebastian Giovinco (22 goals, 16 assists) in 2015.
- Atlanta United's visit to Banc of California Stadium is its first in MLS play but not first overall. Atlanta took on LAFC in a closed-door friendly at the Banc during preseason. That match ended in a 2-2 draw.