This week, LAFC took its first steps towards Leòn. Kicking off preseason training at the Performance Center, Bob Bradley's squad looks to hit the ground running with just over a month between the Black & Gold and the first leg of its Concacaf Champions League debut.
"The beginning part of the preseason, we try to build a foundation of football fitness but also, combine it with our ideas on how we want to play," Bob Bradley said after Friday's training session. "All of that, of course, means sharpening up of touches and getting yourself ready for the season. So, the first four-day window is building up every day in those ways. And then as we go from one four-day cycle to the next, we just keep trying little by little to raise intensity, have more days where the tempo gets pushed even higher, but it’s been a good start."
Faced with a nearly four-month gap between competitive matches, LAFC's preseason has an accelerated feel to it. Players arrived in camp having closely followed fitness plans provided by the LAFC Performance Staff in the offseason. With an emphasis on safely hitting peak levels in a short leadup, the players are now reaping the benefits of the work they did individually in the offseason.
"We challenged guys to come in ready to start playing. Understanding the way we’ve worked in the past, they’ve done an excellent job," Bradley said. "Gavin [Benjafield], Daniel [Guzman], and Tom [Jobe] put out requirements and stayed in touch with players. All of that, I think, has put us in a good place to really get into it."
In addition to the physical preparation, the coaching staff spent this week working on the core of LAFC's game model. For new players, the challenge is twofold: get match-fit and learn LAFC's style of play. It's a daunting task for even the savviest veterans but for youngsters it can be overwhelming.
Bradley says the rapid influx of ideas is deliberate. It's meant to challenge the squad from top to bottom. And a week in, he's content with the results.
"For new guys, it’s overload. So many things get thrown at them quickly. It’s by design," Bradley said. "And then, from day to day, you see which guys are starting to show the ability to do certain things that we think are important.
"It’s a lot. But I would give a good grade to guys so far, knowing that between the nerves and everything else that getting it together also takes a bit of time."
News & Notes
- Six players under contract are not with the squad in preseason. Walker Zimmerman, Diego Rossi, Francisco Ginella, Eduard Atuesta, Eddie Segura, and José Cifuentes are away with their respective national teams. Zimmerman returns to preseason training with LAFC on Feb. 2, while the other five are taking part in the CONMEBOL Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Colombia. Depending on the results of those matches, they could be away from the team until the second week of February.
- Christian Diaz, a defender on trial from Forward Madison FC of USL League One, has left LAFC's preseason camp.
- Goalkeeper signing Kenneth Vermeer is expected to join his new teammates early next week. Vermeer arrives at LAFC having made 16 starts for Feyenoord in the Eredivise this season.