The LAFC boss was pleased with the win itself. But he was unhappy with the rugged play the Timbers put in to try and stop MLS MVP frontrunner Carlos Vela, who opened the game with a goal and later, added an assist in the win.
“There’s going to be physical games, but I don’t like to see the point that it got to in the second half, that’s my opinion,” said Bradley.
In the end, the Timbers just edged LAFC in fouls called, 15 to 12, but Vela was fouled a staggering eight times in the match, several of those stronger than a run-of-the-mill foul. The result was Vela was down on the field multiple times in the second half, looking worse for wear, and the Portland fans booing him as he carried on (classy!).
“If you think that the way you described that game was ‘a little bit of pushing and shoving,’ then you need to go back and watch the video,” Bradley told a reporter who began asking about the large-scale scuffle that broke out between the teams at the end of the match.
“We’re not naive, we understand teams are going to have a hard way to play against us, they’re going to try to make it hard, but they’re still,” Bradley shook his head in exasperation, “Man. When’s the last time you saw [Lionel] Messi get mauled the way Carlos got mauled tonight? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where Messi got mauled like that. And in the end, if I don’t say that, the sad thing is nobody else will write it, everybody, the [Portland] fans will all yell ‘Oh! Diving, diving, diving.’ Come on, come on, come on. We need really good games in this league.”
While Bradley was vocal in his displeasure over Portland’s style, which included two separate red card-worthy tackles in the first half by Diego Chara on other LAFC players, Vela shrugged off the talk of Portland trying to knock him off his game with constant fouls.
“Every game is different,” he told reporters. “We come, we play, I try to do my best, I try to score goals, I try to help my team, and in the end I don’t think about how hard the tackles [were], or how hard was the game. The important thing is win games and I’m really happy because we have three good points.”
LAFC sit atop the standings, and Vela leads the league in goals and assists, but with the team and player practically looking unstoppable, don’t be surprised if other teams emulate Portland’s tactics. Here’s hoping Vela (and the rest of the squad) remain healthy through the brutal fouls that are likely to come.
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