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LAFC’s Bob Bradley on options to restart MLS: “I’m pretty flexible”

Head coach open to whatever decisions are made in coronavirus pandemic.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Football Club head coach Bob Bradley spoke to reporters on a conference call on Tuesday, and among the topics covered in a wide-ranging discussion was his feelings about how to return to action when MLS gets the green light in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

MLS commissioner Don Garber mentioned to Taylor Twellman on his show “Banter” this week that MLS is looking at various options, including potentially playing closed-door matches, playing at a neutral site and even playing a tournament format for a truncated competition.

When Bradley was asked about his preference, if he had any, for the competition once it resumes, he said he was flexible.

“Look, I’ve talked to some other coaches,” Bradley said. “There’s a coaches committee, I’m not on it. But I have had really good discussions with some of the other coaches. My feeling is that we will wait and see, the league’s doing a very good job of staying connected with doctors in the CDC. We’ll know the right time to start. We’ll know the right time, where we can start doing certain things and training. Everybody’s seen the way some limited training has begun in Germany. So we’ll figure those things out. And then eventually we’ll determine when we can start games, obviously testing might play a big role.

“And when we start, with however much time we have, I’m pretty flexible, that at that point let’s figure out how to make a good schedule. Let’s figure out how to get everybody going again.”

While Bradley said games without fans “have no soul,” he was also realistic that the games may only come initially if there’s no fans present.

“Let’s make sure we reconnect with all our fans. And whether it’s in one site, whether it’s a short season that gets into the playoffs. I think that what we will see when we finally get started again is that everybody will be completely on board, and completely committed to the fact that after all of us worked together to move through the challenge of this period the game is going and then we will be excited to partake in anything that gets put together at that time,” Bradley said.

The LAFC boss was also asked if he knows of the status of Concacaf Champions League, with LAFC’s first game in the quarterfinals against Cruz Azul postponed on that very day as sports in North America shut down, and he said there’s been no news on that front.

But ultimately, Bradley understands his role in all of this, which is to wait for news like the rest of us and deal with the adjustments as they come.

“First of all, it’s not my decision. And so I have input, I know that the league is considering all options. They’d love to play 34 games, but if it means that we can’t play 34 they’re going to look at everything possible to try to make sure that that we bring the game back to our fans, bring the game back in the country.

“And that’s what I mean when I say that in an unprecedented situation, I’m not going to get caught up with what’s the format. I’ll be excited to get started training again. I miss the game so much. I miss training every day. And yes, I miss the games. Most of all I miss when you go into the stadiums looking around and feeling the crowd and the atmosphere. Well, if that’s not possible right away, I still think it’s going to be important that we do show our fans that the game is going again and so if it’s without fans, that’s not forever. That’s just so that we can get started. I think it will be well received because it will be an indication that we also understand and appreciate the safety factor in all this.

“So I’m very open to doing it in the way that makes the most sense, and we’ll know the time that we have as we move along. There’s still so many unanswered questions with this virus and with testing, so I don’t spend too much time thinking through the different scenarios where one week I’m thinking it’s 30 games and the next week, I’m thinking, well, maybe it can only be 28. I leave that for others. And I think more about the bigger picture and how exciting it’ll be when we finally get started again.”

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