El Trafico is almost upon us.
Obviously Bob and his coaching staff are keeping a lid on their Thursday night plans, so the next best thing is to get a word in with the experts. Thanks to the supremely knowledgable Alicia Rodriguez at Angels on Parade for her time!
LAG Confidential: What’s the status of the Black and Gold roster heading into El Trafico? Losing the excellent Mark-Anthony Kaye would be huge.
Angels on Parade: Kaye is officially listed as questionable, and I think there’s a decent chance he plays. You can never tell with hamstring injuries, but he’s been training with the team, in some capacity, since last week, so he could be playing. Or LAFC could be cagey with info and he may only sit on the bench. We’ll see. Beyond that, the roster is pretty healthy. Walker Zimmerman suffered a head injury in the regular season finale but he seems to be training normally so I expect him to play. Adama Diomande is back with the team and will probably be available off the bench. The other players out are deep bench players, so aside from Kaye’s situation, LAFC are as healthy and rested as they’ve been all season.
LAG Confidential: If Lee Nyugen were to replace Kaye, what are his strengths and weaknesses? How does the play maker differ from Kaye on the pitch?
Angels on Parade: Nguyen has the reputation of being an attacking wizard who doesn’t defend, but he doesn’t really play like that with LAFC. Bob Bradley has gotten him to buy in to playing a two-way game, and while his passing remains a strong suit, he often takes a backseat to Eduard Atuesta pulling the strings, instead picking his moments. I think Kaye offers a far more robust physical style of play, he’s not afraid to make tackles and stand up to opponents, and Nguyen has the footwork and technical skill edge. But really, for two players who have such different profiles, they’re remarkably plug-and-play in terms of how they work in LAFC’s system.
LAG Confidential: The story for the Galaxy vs. LAFC in 2019 has been intensity. Reading the quotes coming out of training, LA sound confident while LAFC appear content to let their play do the talking. Are Carlos Vela and LAFC good enough to prevail with attacking flair alone, or does Bob Bradley’s side need to match the Galaxy’s intensity to walk away with the victory?
Angels on Parade: I can see scenarios where intensity is the deciding factor, or quality of play. Clearly the first meeting this year between the teams was all about intensity. The second was a mix, and of balancing defense and attack for both teams. I think we can agree LAFC know they need to get over the hump against the Galaxy. Until they do, the nerves and trepidation will continue to mount. If they can grab that elusive victory in the playoffs, I expect it to exorcise some demons and allow LAFC to move on. And if they don’t, the storylines will continue to swirl...