We sat down with Alicia Rodriguez of Angels on Parade to discuss all things LA FC.
1. Last year, we saw Atlanta United take off in their first year as an expansion, making the MLS playoffs. It’s only been two matches, and while they’ve beaten a couple of decent clubs on the road, how far do you think LAFC can go this season?
Like you said, it’s only been two games, and with 32 to go, I really don’t want to get sucked into a full conclusion at this point. However, winning two road games is a fantastic start, not least because first, there’s always a team or two each year in MLS that cannot win two road games in a season and second, that team often is an expansion team. Add to it the fact that they held on by the skin of their teeth to win their first game in Seattle and then blasted Real Salt Lake in the second game, and they appear to have built upon one game to the next.
As far as expectations, I think the baseline is that LAFC need to be in the playoff hunt the full season, with the objective to reach the postseason. From there? Who knows. But if they make the playoffs, they’ll be just the third expansion team in a decade to do it, and place themselves in a good spot to put themselves ahead of the majority of expansion teams in league history.
2. Who has impressed you the most so far and why?
To be honest, there haven’t been a lot of guys who have played so far, and there haven’t been any passengers through 180 minutes. Of particular note, Diego Rossi has started the season on fire, scoring three goals and three assists and posting possibly the best performance in MLS in a decade in the last game, when he scored two goals and three assists. The Uruguayan is just 20, and is part of the wave of young South American imports to MLS in the last year-plus. Again, it’s early, but his production doesn’t appear to be a fluke. He is a good finisher, he can set up teammates, and his chemistry with his teammates (who also play a flowing, interchanging style like him) seems to be present already. At some point he’ll have to deal with opponents kicking him or marking him tightly, and we’ll see how he copes, but for now he couldn’t ask for a much better start to life in the U.S.
3. How has Bob Bradley handled the squad an what should the Galaxy expect to see from his side this Saturday?
Well, I think Bradley has already shown his value in MLS, as he’s brought together a brand-new group and made them look like they’ve been playing together for years. Add to that the fact that they had only 17 players on opening day (and one of the players on the bench was not healthy enough to actually play), and Bradley pulled a ramshackle squad together and came out with a win. Boom.
I think Bradley is bound to add a wrinkle to the match against the Galaxy -- he’s too smart to simply do exactly what has been done already, especially with three weeks between games. But I do think LAFC are going to push up the field and attack in numbers, looking to overwhelm the Galaxy defense at some point in the game. If they can get on the board, they’ll likely look to wear out the Galaxy and pick their spots to pad the lead, if they get it.
Predicted starting XI.
Tyler Miller; Joao Moutinho, Walker Zimmerman, Laurent Ciman, Steven Beitashour; Benny Feilhaber, Mark-Anthony Kaye; Diego Rossi, Carlos Vela, Latif Blessing; Marcos Ureña
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