Update: After this story was published Thursday, Cruz Azul fired manager Robert Siboldi Friday.
Los Angeles Football Club have been toiling away from the limelight the past two weeks, as they gear up for their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal showdown Wednesday against Liga MX outfit Cruz Azul in Orlando.
Bob Bradley spoke to the media Thursday to offer an update, and one of the topics discussed was the upcoming opponent.
Cruz Azul looked destined for the Liga MX final this season, after routing Pumas 4-0 in leg one of the semifinal series, before the unthinkable happened, with Pumas coming back in the second leg with a 4-0 win of their own to overturn the series and knock Cruz Azul out of the playoffs.
That series highlighted the best and worst of La Maquina, featuring the league’s top scorer this season in Jonathan Rodriguez but also dealing with the club’s historic penchant for bottling it in the worst possible moments.
No surprise, Bradley emphasized why LAFC have to be wary of their opponent.
“We watched them a lot. We think that they’re very good team, very dangerous, some really good attackers. A guy like Jonathan Rodriguez, he’s done well, he’s a real threat. At times they’re a direct team. So, we’ve watched them. We have a lot of respect for them,” he told reporters on a conference call.
When asked if Cruz Azul manager Robert Siboldi leading his team with his job on the line puts too much pressure on them, to give LAFC the edge psychologically, Bradley chose to explain both teams are after the same objective and both are coming off playoff disappointments domestically.
“We focus on our preparation, and we know they’ll be ready,” he said. “We expect a strong response. When you’re a good team and you suffer a tough night then you’re motivated for the next game, the next chance and like us I know that Cruz Azul considers the Champions League to be really important. But again, we think back to the beginning of the year. The excitement we had, the goal that we had to win Champions League and the next test is is a knockout game against Cruz Azul. So, we must be ready to put everything into it, to play football where the tempo is high, for our willingness to push forward, create the chances. Again, those were things that we were able to do against León. We’re gonna try to go about it in some of the same ways, and still take into account what Cruz Azul will try to do against us.”
LAFC falling behind in their series against another Liga MX side, Club León, in the spring and coming back in the second leg gives LAFC hope they can replicate that. Of course, with the rest of the 2020 Concacaf Champions League to be single-leg rounds, including the quarterfinal against Cruz Azul, teams will get just 90 minutes to get the result.
Bradley referenced the draw heading into the tournament, with LAFC getting a very tough road that could include Liga MX titans América and Tigres should they progress past Cruz Azul and all the way to the final, but he’s not counting his side out.
“If you go back to the start of the year when we saw the draw, we knew that the road for us to win was a difficult one, to start with León. And we said at that time maybe they’re the best team in Mexico. It was a huge challenge but we responded well. And now we’re thinking about Cruz Azul in the same way,” he said.
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