The good news: Los Angeles Football Club scored three goals Monday night in their return to action.
The bad news: They also conceded three goals.
It was a tale of the good and the bad, as LAFC tied the Houston Dynamo 3-3 in a wild match to open the teams’ group stage play in the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando. Coming back from 3-1 down at halftime means the draw was more of a boost than many draws, but it still showed the current squad is a work in progress collectively.
But for those who think LAFC’s issue is to focus more on defense, head coach Bob Bradley says that’s not the big picture.
“We certainly don’t want to give up goals but we want to play football where we control games, where we push forward, where we win balls back quickly. And if you lose your nerve, if you immediately start saying that, no, we can’t play that way and everything else, then the ability to become a really good team the way we want to play get lost,” Bradley told reporters in the postgame press conference Monday when asked if his team needed to batten down the defense more moving forward.
“So we’re not happy when we have games where we make three or four bad decisions, bad plays and every goal, every ball turns out in the net,” Bradley continued. “But this is part of the process. If you want to be a team that plays up the field, then you have to have the courage to defend high. Your defenders have to be able to cover space behind. Obviously Houston tried to take advantage with long balls. They play a lot towards Alberth Elis, who is really good in the air. They get flick-ons, but that can’t change the way we want to play. We have to control things. I thought that there were a lot of times in the game when we lost balls in the attacking part of the field. Our reactions and counter-pressing were really good.
“So that still tells me that those are the kind of ideas that our team appreciates and that we use to play good football and we just keep trying to make it all a little bit better. Be sharper. Be better.”
Forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, who made his debut and scored LAFC’s first goal on the night, said he thinks it’s a matter of getting into a rhythm as a group.
“I think for me personally, when I’ve watched this team play, there’s more tempo,” he said. “It’s obviously the first game, so those things will take a few games to come back, but I think the biggest problem was our tempo. We kind of played the way they wanted to play. They wanted to slow the game down, and I think we fell into that trap earlier in the game. I think second half, you see we came out a bit sharper and we got those two goals. Actually had another one, as well; I think we could have gotten three points, but I think it was down to tempo.”
Above all, the coach thought the performance was a solid first step in the MLS is Back Tournament.
“Good to get back on the field. Very pleased that there were some moments of good football,” Bradley said.
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