Coaches often challenge their teams with short-term goals designed to help players thrive over the long arc of a season.
For Bob Bradley and the Los Angeles Football Club, such a ploy means taking note of the results when the opportunity arises to secure six points over a stretch of two games.
After a three-week hiatus from MLS competition after Saturday’s argument with New York City FC at Banc of California Stadium, “you’d rather continue a good stretch” than scoring at home, Bradley said.
The 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids last weekend brought LAFC out of the basement of the Major League Soccer Western Conference. It also gave Black & Gold their second chance at six points in back-to-back games after failing in Week 2 when a 1-1 draw with Seattle followed an opener win against Austin.
“I think the most important thing for us is just seeing how we can continue the momentum from our last game,” said LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye. “I think it’s very important to keep moving in the right direction. So this is a big game no matter who the opponents are.”
Kaye noted that the game against the Rapids with more than 10,000 supporters in the stands felt like the “most normal game since the pandemic”.
“Hopefully this will keep the guys moving and help us find our way up to the overall standings,” said Kaye.
LAFC’s second triumph in 2021 was the remarkable return of Carlos Vela to Bradley’s starting grid. The striker is expected to build on the hour of work against the Rapids, underscored by an assist for Diego Rossi’s winning goal.
During a couple of previous games against NYCFC, both drawn 2-2, Vela has scored three times.
NYCFC (2-2-2, 8 points) are unbeaten in four straight games this year before losing 2-1 in the final moments to defending MLS Cup champions Columbus last weekend.
The Yankee Stadium-affiliated club – one of two eastern teams in the LAFC program for 2021 – ranks sixth at its conference, while LAFC ranks ninth in the west.
NYCFC’s offensive revolved around Argentine striker Valentin Castellanos, who is responsible for leading his team with four goals and two assists.
Although Bradley’s team has scored scant goals compared to previous seasons, the manager remains generally positive about how LAFC makes it difficult for opponents to sustain attacks from inside the box by limiting chances and pushing Reclaim balls.
On the subject of matching items
Diego Rossi scores twice in the first half, LAFC beats Rapids
LAFC welcomes Colorado, which has to dig deep to reverse the trend
MLS-leading Sounders defeated Los Angeles FC
Kim Moon-hwan adjusts to LAFC and more
Galaxy beat LAFC in the second half thanks to Jonathan dos Santos’ goal
During a spirited week of training fueled by the Colorado win, LAFC focused on connecting midfield to its attacking players, focusing on what worked on its first win in over a month.
“When you see a lot of good things out of a game, try to make sure everyone understands that these are the things that got us excited that day,” said Bradley. “And now we continue to build on it.”
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