By Ivan Yeo
Within the last few months, LAFC has hired its first head coach in Bob Bradley, made its first big player splash by landing Mexican striker Carlos Vela from Real Sociedad and have begun the process of filling out its roster.
Vela got his day in the sun, literally, as he had been introduced up close to the LAFC fans in a rally held outside of the LA Coliseum back on August 11. Well, Bradley got his turn on Thursday night, as LAFC’s supporters groups as well as a number of season ticket holders were all on hand at the “At the P” studios just outside Hollywood to get up close with Bob Bradley in a Q@A session with the franchise’s first head coach titled “An Evening with Bob Bradley.”
“I’m excited about the idea of building a team that’s really going to connect with the city,” Bradley said. “When you think what that means in terms of building the stadium, the location and really trying to make something happen where when we take step on the field, our football and what we’re all about really connects with the energy and diversity of Los Angeles.”
Bradley answered a number of questions from LAFC owner/president Tom Penn and Ranjan Goswani, the Vice President of Delta Airlines Los Angeles offices. Among the questions asked was Bradley’s experiences coaching the U.S. national team, coaching across Europe and vast experiences he has acquired, the differences between coaching a national side and coaching a club side, what kind of style he wants LAFC to play, and also, the signing of Vela and what kind of impact he will have on the team.
Before the session, Bradley took questions from the media, and expressed his enthusiasm about the club on and off the field.
“For me, since I’ve been here. I’m so impressed by the energy that’s out there, the people in the club in terms of just their enthusiasm for what’s going on,” Bradley said.
Vela will be joined by another striker, as the team announced yesterday that they had signed another striker, Rodrigo Pacheco from Argentina’s Club Atletico Lanus. The 21-year old Pacheco will join LAFC’s USL side Orange County SC for the remainder of the 2017 USL season.
“(Director of Soccer Operations) John (Thorrington) made some scouting trips, saw Launs’ reserve team and liked what he saw, a player who scores goals, who is active and dangerous, and we’re looking forward to working with him,” Bradley said.
MLS has changed a great deal since Bradley last coached in the league. The most obvious is the growth of the league, as the league has gone from 12 teams to its current number at 22, which will be 23 when Bradley’s LAFC side enter the league next season. Financially, things are also more positive. When Bradley was in MLS, the league was not far from instituting its single-entity system to keep MLS financially solvent. Since then MLS has built new soccer-specific stadiums, instituted the Designated Player rule as well as Targeted Allocation Money to attract more talented players and while the league still maintains a strict salary structure, MLS teams have more financial flexibility than in its early years, something that is not lost on Bradley as his return to the league next season looms though he stressed there’s still room for progression.
“For me, I’m still someone that looks at the quality of the game,” Bradley said. “I’m a tough critic. Even with the progress, I want to see the football get better, I want to see more good games, and I think ultimately, with everything that’s happened, we can still raise the bar for what our game looks like in MLS and the national team.”
There are approximately seven months until LAFC takes the field. During that time, the roster still needs for be filled out, with the expansion draft being the next step, LAFC will surely look to fill out the last two designated player slots and Bradley will also have to fill out his coaching staff. Still, with all the positive energy surround the club, all that shouldn’t be a problem for LAFC as the countdown begins.