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LAFC still aiming to keep control as knockout stage approaches

Bradley, Kaye react after 2-2 draw against Timbers.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Los Angeles FC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is Los Angeles Football Club have maintained the ability to mount a comeback this season.

The bad news is they keep conceding first.

LAFC continued that streak Thursday, as they let in an early goal against the Portland Timbers before rallying, taking a 2-1 lead, but then being pegged back themselves late, in a 2-2 draw at the MLS is Back Tournament.

Head coach Bob Bradley says mindset and mistakes have been the main culprits for going behind early in Orlando.

“Each game’s different,” he told reporters after Thursday’s draw. “I think that we have tried to take control in the other games, but our ability in certain moments just where we have got people in position but to be able to defend a moment a little bit better, and when you think about goals we have given up, failure to clear balls in own goal, those are the main things that we’ve looked at.

“So there’s always the part of how you start, the concentration. Early in the game, you don’t just get a chance to start to connect passes. You have to fight through early parts of the game until you can get a little bit more control, and in those periods of the game, we have made mistakes and we have paid,” he added.

The outcome of the game seemed to turn on the respective substitutes used. Bradley brought on reserves, while Portland’s Giovanni Savarese used Jeremy Ebobisse and Diego Valeri off the bench to great effect, as they combined on the equalizer.

Bradley admitted fatigue played a role late for LAFC.

“Yeah, at the end of the night, we’re disappointed. Hate to give up a late goal, a failure to clear a couple balls, and some poor organization on the corner. We started the game poorly; slow. But then we had a good response, and I thought we picked things up in most of the second half. I thought we had control. Didn’t do a good enough job of finding the third goal, being sharp in the right moments and finishing the game that way. We showed a little bit of fatigue and when we made some changes, our ability to find everybody the game, that’s where we let ourselves down.”

The draw proved significant, as a win on the night would have set up a Round of 16 clash against FC Cincinnati, that now becomes a matchup against the Seattle Sounders instead.

Midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye, who scored the go-ahead goal for LAFC, is looking for some revenge against the Sounders, who knocked the black-and-gold out of the playoffs last year.

“Yeah, obviously we know who we are going to play next,” he said. “We’re excited to have an opportunity to play against Seattle considering what happened last year. But again, we don’t focus too much on who we are playing really. We just are excited to have another opportunity to play our football.

“So yeah, you know, it’s disappointing today not winning the group, but we have to focus on the next game and make sure that we go into it better. So if it was Seattle or Cincinnati, it doesn’t really matter.”

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