Just before Los Angeles Football Club hopped on a plane to travel to Orlando Monday afternoon, head coach Bob Bradley spoke to reporters in a conference call.
LAFC are gearing up for the MLS is Back Tournament, scheduled to take place from Wednesday through Aug. 11 in Orlando.
And while the twin news of LAFC star Carlos Vela opting out of the tournament for family reasons, and FC Dallas withdrawing from the competition after 10 players tested positive for coronavirus in Orlando dominated headlines on Monday, Bradley had some thoughts about the challenges of the tournament, too.
When asked if he was “for or against” the plan to play a centralized tournament in Orlando in the first place, Bradley hedged for a moment before he responded, “The way it was laid out, there wasn’t much to choose from. I’m not sure I agreed with that.”
But even with that response, Bradley is choosing to make the most of the challenge, including, of course to try and win the tournament, while also encouraging his players to be their own men.
“We have always found a way as a group to discuss things internally. One of the things that I have done, wherever I’ve coached is still challenging guys to be able to think for themselves and be aware of what’s going on. It’s not something that you ever want to just force on anybody and so we’ve discussed that as a team. I’ve said a few times we found ways around here to train where the competence that everybody was responsible off the field is there, and now we’ve got to do the same when we get to Orlando. Don’t mistake me. Every one of us, when we show up every day when we can get back on the field have been trained that hour and a half is still something that we absolutely enjoy every day. We’re very lucky for that, and we’re excited to play games.
“Yes there are concerns, and there are depending upon where you get information there are different things, different reports coming out, coming from inside the bubble. So I know players talk to other guys that are already there. And we just discuss internally and look for ways that we can help each other.”
While Bradley is focused on getting ready to play, he made it clear his thoughts are not far from those impacted by coronavirus right now.
“There’s no answers, other than helping each other, supporting each other,” he said. “Sometimes I think you need perspective, in Los Angeles right now as I mentioned earlier the numbers for the COVID cases are high again. And we know that the Hispanic community, Blacks have been adversely affected. We have so many fans that have the kind of jobs where they’ve been working, doing essential things to help others. And so, when we talk about pressure or mentality we think about these people, I think that’s the key. And we appreciate everything that they’ve done. We’ve had some cases of COVID that are very close to our team. And so we are thankful that some of the people that we’re thinking about are doing okay and sometimes in some of their cases their family situations, big families and it’s just on our minds to make sure everybody’s safe. We don’t just think of ourselves in this moment, we think about the people around us, we think about our supporters, we think about people in Los Angeles, and in the country and then we then try to prepare ourselves to do a good job in the area that we control.”
Bradley was asked what comes next — assuming the MLS is Back Tournament in fact takes place — for the team in 2020. The manager would not disclose a specific plan but said there were hopes games would resume.
“We’re hoping that the season will continue but we do not have more information, or specific details,” he said.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.