Los Angeles Football Club have reached the semifinals of the Concacaf Champions League in their first try. So are they considering their clash Saturday against Liga MX titan Club América a victory lap of sorts for what they’ve accomplished so far?
Of course not, they’re in it to win it.
“We’ve set the bar high at LAFC,” head coach Bob Bradley told reporters on a conference call Friday. “We’re a young club, we haven’t done enough yet, but to really make a history and to make your fans proud, you’ve got to get into these kinds of events and you’ve got to take them seriously. And most of all, you’ve got to step on the field and go for it, play football that is different, play football that the fans are excited and stand behind.
“So that becomes the way we try to go about it and we were pleased with the result and the effort against Cruz Azul, but man, we got a big one coming up tomorrow night.”
LAFC were good value for their win against Cruz Azul Wednesday in the CCL quarterfinal. However, Cruz Azul were a club in disarray, being without a permanent manager and missing several key players. Bradley praised the talent on Club América and the coaching of their manager, Miguel Herrera, but Las Aguilas actually lost their game in the CCL restart, 1-0 to a fairly weak Atlanta United side, also on Wednesday.
But América advanced off the back of a 3-0 first-leg win in that series, and Bradley wasn’t interested in narratives surrounding the opponent coming in, whether that loss midweek would serve as a wakeup call for Herrera’s side or if it would be another gilt-edged opportunity for LAFC.
“I say often that all of these different things get written, but what matters most is when the game starts which team is sharper, which team is faster, which team takes the initiative,” Bradley responded. “So we want to be that team to do it against Club América. It is a big challenge because they’re good. They have some really top players, but the different storylines don’t matter when the game starts, because the ability to get control comes from players that are really ready for the moment, and that’s the way we’re preparing for things.”
Many MLS teams have seen their hopes dashed at this stage of the competition in the past, sometimes by Club América themselves. But if Bradley can lead LAFC to a win, they’ll be 90 minutes closer to the glory they seek. That next step comes Saturday night.
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