Mark-Anthony Kaye didn't know. At least he said he didn't.
The midfielder spoke to the media two days before LAFC faces an away test against Real Salt Lake. During the scrum, Kaye admitted to knowing very little about the opponent's style of football.
"[RSL] is on a good run. Obviously, any team that is feeling confident can give you a challenge. I don't know too much about the type of football they try to play. I know that they have some key players up top, or attacking midfielders, that are pretty good in [Jefferson] Savarino and [Albert] Rusnák," Kaye told reporters after training. "But it's another game in this league where it's another opportunity for us to do what we want to do and try to get better at what we've been trying to do the whole year.
"As much as Salt Lake is a task, we're trying to focus on ourselves."
Kaye is definitely being a bit tongue-in-cheek and letting on less than he actually knows. He's the type of player that watches matches in his free time and you can almost guarantee he had RSL's midweek match on his TV. But the finer point he's making encapsulates LAFC's mentality throughout 2019.
Tactics are nice but it's the principles a team puts into practice every day and how they execute them in matches that determine longterm success.
As LAFC continues to be without peers at the top of the MLS table, it's this focus that will propel the team higher and higher. When LAFC is doing what they do best, there isn't a team in the League that can stop them. Kaye and his teammates know this. And it's with that mentality they challenge themselves regardless of the team lining up opposite them.
Let's preview LAFC's away match against Real Salt Lake:
LAFC at Real Salt Lake | Aug. 17 at 7pm PT
Where To Watch
TV: YouTube TV, KVMD
Radio: ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980
Official LAFC Watch Parties: Britannia Pub in Santa Monica, Next Round Bar & Grill in Santa Ana
Real Salt Lake has found its form heading into the season's home stretch. RSL has won three straight and is unbeaten in its last six matches in the League. All of this has been without Mike Petke, after the former head coach was suspended and ultimately let go by the club. Freddy Juarez has been given the reigns for the rest of the season and has his team outscoring opponents 8-2 in the last three matches.
What The Team Is Saying
Bob Bradley on how his team's approach to away matches: "We try to take the same ideas that we work on every week and have the same mentality when we go away to play our football. For us, its continuation of trying to be a team that takes control of games and tries to step up. It's our way of playing and we try to do it every time we step on the field."
Mark-Anthony Kaye on the possibility of clinching a playoff spot this weekend: "Once that happens, we pat each other on the back and say its a good accomplishment. But that's literally like the minimum. You have to make playoffs to reach the goals that we set. When that happens, that will be great but there's definitely going to be more games after that."
LAFC Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Adama Diomande, Carlos Vela.
What To Watch For
Playoffs?: Yeah, we're talking about playoffs. LAFC is within sight of clinching a spot in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. A win in Utah coupled with FC Dallas dropping points and the Black & Gold confirm what's seemed inevitable since about May. Of course, we've already heard from Mark-Anthony Kaye on the possibility. The celebrations will be short. Just another step on the path to bigger goals.
Chasing History: Carlos Vela is one goal or assist away from breaking Sebastian Giovinco's record of combined goals and assists in a season. If he does it against RSL, Vela will have accomplished the feat in nine fewer matches than it took the Italian to set the mark. In addition to Vela, LAFC is on pace for a whole host of MLS milestones including most points, most wins, most goals, and best goal differential. We've compiled it all in one place, so you can follow along over the last 10 matches of the season.
Zimmerman Returns From Suspension: Walker Zimmerman missed LAFC's 4-2 win over the Red Bulls last week due to yellow-card accumulation. The LAFC center back is likely to be back in the starting 11 this weekend. While LAFC has won three of its last four, including three matches in a row, the Black & Gold have conceded eight times over that four-match span - LAFC shutout New England 2-0 in one of those four. The lapses in focus have been a talking point as of late even as LAFC continues to earn wins. Zimmerman and his teammates made no secret of their disappointment with not being able to control matches from whistle to whistle. Ten matches remain in the 2019 season, clamping down on opponents going forward will be just as vital as the free-flowing play LAFC has exhibited with the ball.