The Los Angeles Football Club has come close on a couple of occasions to claiming its first championship in its short history.
LAFC advanced to the conference semifinals in 2019 and the finals of last year’s CONCACAF Champions League tournament.
As the club officially began year No. 4, Monday with the opening of preseason training camp, one thing is on their mind.
“It’s time to start winning titles,” midfielder Eduard Atuesta said. “That’s our next step.”
LAFC kicked off camp with a huge majority of familiar faces, except for Brian Rodriguez, who is now on loan at Almeria in Spain.
The club has strengthened its defensive depth this off-season, adding Marco Farfan and Kim Moon-Hwan to go with a strong backline of Tristan Blackmon, Jesus David Murillo, Diego Palacios and Eddie Segura. In attack, the club has added Corey Baird in a trade with Real Salt Lake and drafted forward Daniel Trejo.
More depth equals more competition in camp, which is fine for coach Bob Bradley.
“When new players come in, it’s always just a matter of establishing ideas,” Bradley said. “There’s not a style of play, there are things that we believe in, the details our always changing slightly.
“We’re always looking to improve ourselves. When (Jesus David) Murrillo arrived last year, very quickly he established himself as a central defender, a presence, a leader, so it worked out in an excellent way that we could pick up his option and bring him back here. We’re always looking to find good pieces to challenge guys. I think the depth in the whole team creates competition and we’re excited about that.”
Heading into his fourth season, Blackmon is not shying away from what will be a competitive training camp.
“It’s a big year ahead, lots to look forward to. I’m just looking to be present at every moment,” Blackmon said. “It’s best when you have to fight every training session, every week for a starting position. That’s what pushes you every day, knowing that you have somebody to go against, somebody to hold you to a standard to keep playing well. I think you get the best out of guys when there’s that internal competition.”
LAFC currently has 26 players signed to its roster. All three of its draft picks (Trejo, Alvareo Quezada and CC Uche) were invited to training camp. With Rodriguez gone, the club has one Designated Player spot open.
“I think for the beginning of the season, the roster is pretty close,” Bradley said. “We’ll have a chance to assess things in the first part of the season. The bigger transfer window, as everyone knows is in the summer, whether that means that there are other possibilities of guys leaving, but that becomes then the focus that we are looking at so many different guys and trying to keep open ideas for what we will need in the summer time.
“We’re still a relatively young team in this whole thing. We know that there are young talented players that potentially move away from LAFC, so in order to prepare for all these days, you have to have other young players, whether they’re coming through the academy, whether we’re finding them in different parts of the world, that come in and start to become part of LAFC and understand how we want to play.”
Until then, it’s back to the lab for LAFC. The club has only scheduled three preseason games, but it will certainly get its work in.
“We feel good about the training we get every day,” Bradley said. “We play a lot of 11-on-11 in different ways in training throughout the week, so we feel our ability to add ideas and get our team ready to start the season is based always in the way we train everyday.
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