The gang's all here.
Not since the first day of preseason training camp has it felt like this around the LAFC Performance Center. Bob Bradley's team returned to training after its final preseason friendly with some familiar faces and some new ones. That feeling of everybody finally being all together in one place was inescapable.
After nearly a month away with their national teams, Eduard Atuesta, Eddie Segura, Diego Rossi, and Francisco Ginella were all back in regular training on Friday. The four returned earlier this week but it's the first time they've had a chance to be a part of the regular group.
"It’s just great to get all these guys back. You can tell from the second that they walk in the door how happy they are to be with all of their teammates," Bob Bradley said of the returning players after Friday's session. "They’re all proud of the way they played in the qualifying but there’s a special sense of what they bring around here. Everybody is really excited to see them.
"Now we get them back on the training field and reacclimate them to everything that is going on. But when you’ve been here in the past, that part comes really quickly."
The reason for the rush is LAFC's quick turnaround this preseason. The team now has just four days of training together before its first match of the year against Club Léon in the Concacaf Champions League.
Léon is currently top of the table in Liga MX. Bradley and his team know the first leg away in Mexico is a tall order regardless of the opponent form. The comings and goings in preseason made the challenge that much great. But now with everyone together, there's a real feeling of the final work being done in preparation for the trip.
"I thought we had a really good preseason. We were challenged because we were missing guys and it gave opportunities to some of our younger Academy players, which was fantastic," Bradley said. "I think we had a number of returning players that really have done well in the preseason. And now, we get everybody back and what it means most of all is how competitive it will be to get on the field and how the depth of our team this year is really going to pay off for us."
News & Notes
- LAFC made its free-agent signing of Bradley Wright-Phillips official on Wednesday. Bob Bradley announced that Wright-Phillips is here with the team but won't join training right away due to sports hernia surgery. It's an injury the team was aware of during contract negotiations Bradley said and he expects Wright-Phillips to be "an experienced No. 9 that we know is a real threat around the goal" when he returns.
- In his first meeting with media since his singing was officially announced, Wright-Phillips was eager to regain fitness and return to training. He told reporters that he expects to be more like his younger self after spending a year dealing with injuries and trying different forms of treatment. When asked why LAFC, Wright-Phillips responded: "They’re the best. Again, I’m not just saying that. But you look at last year’s form, the way they played, the players they had, it’s easy to see. I’m a player right now with a lot to prove. It makes it a little bit easier coming here."
- Known for his No. 99 jersey, Wright-Phillips revealed he'll wear No. 66 this season for LAFC since Adama Diomande is already wearing No. 99 in Black & Gold.