It's a trip to the East Coast with eyes on the top spot in the West.
LAFC head to Orlando for the start of a two-match swing on the opposite side of the country. It's LAFC first trip across the U.S. since it defeated the New England Revolution 2-0 at the beginning of August.
The match with Orlando City has added importance for Bob Bradley and his team. Three points earned in Orlando guarantee the top spot in the Western Conference for the first time in Club history. Beyond that, a victory secures home-field advantage up in the conference during the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and a spot in next year's Concacaf Champions League.
Here are the Toyota Keys to the Match between LAFC and Orlando City:
Back To Business
Every professional athlete will tell you they hate losing. But the proof is in how you perform after adversity.
For LAFC's part, the Black & Gold have backed up their words. Through 28 matches this season, LAFC is the only MLS side to avoid losing consecutive matches. In games following a loss, LAFC are 3-0-0 and outscoring opponents 13-5.
Against Orlando City, LAFC has to put that mentality into practice once again. It's not about changing, it's about honing in and refocusing on the type of football that carried LAFC to a historic pace this season.
From The Training Ground To The Big Stage
Don't call it an international break. LAFC and Orlando City are two of the many MLS sides playing during the FIFA international window this weekend. LAFC will be without seven players, while Orlando City will be without five.
During training, Bob Bradley and his staff rotate players on a regular basis. Not a single player that will take the field for the Black & Gold on Saturday hasn't spent time playing in different roles and with different teammates in training this season. So there's no excuse for not looking like a cohesive side despite the multiple changes expected in the starting 11.
Players need to trust the principles of play that LAFC has focused on all season and work to find understanding and partnerships across the pitch from the opening kickoff. Take the familiarity from the training ground straight to the pitch and try to recreate the ideas the team has worked on for the past eight months.
Protect The Ball
One player that won't away on international duty this weekend is Nani.
The former Portuguese international has put up a respectable nine goals and eight assists thus far in his first MLS season. He's Orlando City's talisman in attack and the main outlet for the team.
By staying high while his teammates defend, Nani is a one-man threat. LAFC will need to be aware of the moments they can go forward at speed and when it's better to protect the possession and balance the side. Attack with reckless abandon and Orlando City will look to play direct with Nani and hope to strike quickly as defenders retreat.
LAFC's ability to keep Nani from receiving with time and space will depend on how and when they push the ball and risk to create chances and how the team fills space and gets close to Orlando City players the instant the ball turns over.