After four months away from game action, their talisman staying home, Los Angeles Football Club are gearing up for their return to action, in the MLS is Back Tournament Monday against the Houston Dynamo.
Ahead of the scheduled restart in Orlando, head coach Bob Bradley told reporters on a conference call Saturday that the humid July weather in central Florida means the team will have to adjust their style of play at least a bit.
“Whenever you come in the summer and play games in heat and humidity it’s a factor so anybody who says that’s not the case, they’re not really being honest,” Bradley said. “So you have to prepare the players. We’ve had obviously a week here to work on just getting used to these conditions. I think as a team we still want to find moments to push the tempo and press, but you have to do it in an intelligent way. It’s really not possible in this weather to press like crazy for 90 minutes.”
Forward Diego Rossi agreed, and sounded like he had been well-drilled on this adjustment in training.
“It’s all new, this situation is different, we were not playing for a couple months and we come here and like you said, the weather is too humid,” Rossi told reporters in English. “You have to be smart in the way that you play, you have to be smart in the way that you press, but you also need to do it. It’s our way of playing, you have to know the moment you are going to do it, but you have to continue doing it. You have to be really smart, you have to be all together and that’s the way you can be good in this tournament.”
Mark-Anthony Kaye noted the fact that LAFC consistently have played the same style under Bradley makes those adjustments and work to get up to speed easier.
“Obviously I think from the physical standpoint, there’s always going to be rust, the fact that whenever you’re off for a long amount of time, you know it takes work to get back to your full fitness. On the other standpoint of the way we play, we’ve been working at it for so many years now. It’s almost coming natural to everyone on the team and it was just an exciting moment to get back to work,” Kaye said.
With Bradley admitting earlier this week both starting-caliber central strikers with the team, Adama Diomande and Bradley Wright-Phillips, aren’t ready to play 90 minutes, and with teams allowed five substitutes per game, he admitted some subs will be planned ahead of time for players on a minutes limit.
“I think that before you start the game you have in mind that there are some players that are not ready for 90 minutes and so those are the substitutions that you plan,” Bradley said. “Then you have other players that you believe are ready for 90 minutes, and then when the game unfolds, you just have to pay attention and see how guys are doing, talk at halftime, get an assessment from players, because certain substitutions have to be based upon what’s going on in the game. But we certainly know that we’ll have some players that are not really 90 minutes fit and those are guys that we’ll have a plan for.”
When asked about the Dynamo, Bradley spoke highly of former LAFC striker Christian Ramirez, now with Houston, and wished him and his family well. Ramirez’s availability for the match is in question, with his wife due to give birth any day and the player ready to leave when she goes into labor.
Of course, an LAFC player, Carlos Vela, stayed home from the MLS is Back Tournament because his wife is also pregnant. When asked if he thinks he needs to take on a bigger role with the attack while Vela is out, Rossi said nothing changes for him.
“For sure, he is one of the key players for us, but I think in this situation all of us have to take that leadership in the attack or always, if he is with us you also have to give the most that you can,” Rossi said. “I don’t think that because he is not here, I’m going to change my way of playing.”
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