In case you missed it, last Friday afternoon, The MAK Show, LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye’s weekly segment on ESPN LA radio, returned to the airwaves after a week hiatus and debuted on its new home, The Sedano & LZ Show. With the Club busy preparing for the upcoming MLS Regular Season reset, the hosts checked in with Kaye on his outlook for the rest of the season, playing in fan-less stadiums, managing personnel and much more.
Anything Less Than Title is a Failure
After talking a little American football, host LZ Granderson jumped right into it, addressing LAFC Star and reigning MLS MVP, Carlos Vela’s, recent comments stating, "I think that this year anything that is not winning the title would be a failure for us.” Granderson was curious to hear Kaye’s thoughts on the matter, and whether or not it added any extra pressure on the squad. Not shying from the comments, Kaye doubled down, adding,
“I agree one hundred percent. That’s the goal at the beginning of every year. So if you don’t end the season with that trophy in your hands you essentially did fail. I support what he says and we understand what we’re trying to achieve with this Club and our team so uh, yes, that doesn’t bother us at all”.
On Playing in a Stadium Without Fans
With the MLS approaching its most recent Regular Season restart, an element that has continued to face the Black and Gold since the onset COVID-19 pandemic is the absence of in-stadium fans. Much has been discussed as it relates to playing in fan-less stadiums in the MLS is Back bubble, but clubs returning back to their home markets and stadiums to no (or limited) fans is something wholly different. The hosts asked Kaye his thoughts on the issue, and he answered as follows,
“Yeah, you know, it was definitely a challenge in a sense, because the environment of games definitely adds something to a players mentality. We’re like modern day gladiators, right? So, you play for the fans, right? And I think, the good thing is that once you get to that level, we’re all very good pros that, we understand that you have to adapt very quickly and without fans, you have to end up leaning on your teammates a little bit more to get you motivated. So, it was a challenge at first but, I think a lot of players got very used to it. It was a little bit more calm in a sense because you could hear each other a little bit more. It feels more like a training session but more heightened intensity because you know, you’re playing against a competitive opponent for points. So, it was a challenge for sure at the beginning, but I think the adaption was very quickly”.
Managing the Midfield
Throughout the MLS is Back tournament, the absence of LAFC’s star, Carlos Vela, was often discussed in relation to the Club’s offensive success. However, another fundamental cog in Coach Bradley’s free flowing system, midfielder, 2019 MLS Best XI, Eduard Atuesta, suffered a right foot injury that has relegated him to the sidelines for the Club’s upcoming match. The hosts were curious to how Kaye and the Club would manage Atuesta’s absence.
“Eduard’s a big part of our team and it’s unfortunate that he’s not going to be with us tomorrow on the field, but I think this Club has done a good job to scout for young players who are very talented and have a high ceiling so that they can be able to step in, in times like this. So, they don’t go after players they don’t believe can start and I think we have a great selection of players who can do that. So, it’s just time for people to step up. Just like how Carlos was not with us in the bubble, other players had to step up, the whole team had to step up. So it’s the same thing with Eduard. Eduard is just as key as a player out, as Carlos was. So, we all have to have the responsibility again and some specific guys will have to step up in their positions”.
For more, check out the full audio above. Make sure to tune in to the MAK Show every Friday on ESPN LA 710 and the ESPN app, you won’t want to miss it.