Last weekend, Los Angeles Football Club played an MLS game where they were more decimated than they’ve ever been in their history.
A generous reading of the XI against the Portland Timbers would mean six starters were out for LAFC, while a more realistic reading, taking out players who have started at times this season with the first group but probably wouldn’t if all options were available, means eight first-choice starters were unavailable on the night.
In the end, they gritted out a 1-1 draw on the road, which was an impressive result considering how shorthanded they were, but good news ahead of Sunday’s El Trafico clash against the LA Galaxy, with nearly all of LAFC’s big names back in contention to play.
Head coach Bob Bradley gave updates during the club’s pregame availability Friday. Notably, the South American internationals — forwards Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez, midfielder Jose Cifuentes and defender Diego Palacios — should be available for selection.
“They’re all available,” Bradley said. “The things that are being weighed on our end is just, as I mentioned, how much they’ve done in the last three weeks ... We’ll assess all of that, see where they are tomorrow, and make decisions. But they’re all available.”
Bradley cautioned that since the internationals have been training individually, their names aren’t yet written in ink in the teamsheet.
“They’re healthy, what you have to do is look at the last three weeks and see how much or how little they’ve done. When we get everybody together again tomorrow, we can start to figure out our best way to go about things for this match will be.”
In addition, while they may not be ready to start, Bradley gave a long pause when asked about the status of Carlos Vela, who has missed the last 11 games with a knee injury, and Tristan Blackmon, who has missed the last seven games with a hamstring injury, before admitting the players could feature.
“I think Tristan and Carlos are possible for some minutes in this game,” Bradley said. “... Those guys have been doing more and more in training, it’s good to see them being more confident and I’m hoping in the next stretch we get those guys back on the field.”
Midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye wasn’t mentioned and he seems likely to still be recovering from a sprained ankle and therefore unavailable.
Meanwhile, Latif Blessing, whose 53-game streak in MLS regular-season play dating back to Oct. 2018 was snapped when he missed last week’s game against the Timbers, had been battling an unnamed illness that Bradley said was not coronavirus, but while he didn’t indicate if Blessing will be available Sunday, the coach did sound like the Ghanaian is on the mend and will be back on the field before long.
“He was back in training today for the first time in a while, so it’s good to see him back on the field and like some of the others, we’ll assess,” Bradley said. “He’s missed a number of days. We were fortunate that all his different testing — for COVID and also just generally, when a player’s not feeling well, sometimes you’ve got to run some different lab tests — everything’s come back fine. And so we’re hopeful that whatever it is that he was fighting for some period of time is behind him and we can get him up and running again.”
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