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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

LAFC’s Bradley takes responsibility for not getting the best out of top players

Bob Bradley has managed soccer teams since 1981, so it seems remarkable when the 63-year-old Hall of Fame coach suggested that his current group of players faced a challenge, even as he Haven’t dealt with it before.

Through three quarters of the 2021 season, Los Angeles Football Club has created chances but hasn’t scored. At the same time, Bradley’s team limited their opponents’ chances, but found the most inappropriate moments to concede goals.

That combination sees LAFC struggling to move above the playoff line with seven games remaining in the league’s 34-match season.

“You can certainly move the game and create chances and that day for whatever reason you don’t end up, or the opposing keeper makes some big saves,” Bradley said, “but realizing that it’s not going to be a whole lot.” The season has been like this, it’s unbelievable.

“It’s quite unique.”

Due to the absence of consistent contributions from its most high-profile players, LAFC, currently suffering a three-match defeat, are in danger of missing out on the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time since the club’s debut in 2018.

Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi and Brian Rodriguez – LAFC’s three designated players – have each struggled through volatile seasons.

Vela too has often been missing from action since putting pressure on his right quadriceps on opening day. Rossi appeared distracted by transfer talks that ultimately manifested in his departure for Turkey last month. And although Rodriguez has shown flashes of talent, he has put in too much pedestrian effort for a player of his ability.

LAFC has lost only three of its matches when all three started with each other, and is 0–5–0 when they all received minutes in the same match.

“One of the most important responsibilities a coach has is to get the best out of your best players,” Bradley said. “For various reasons, that hasn’t happened. Certainly when you look at the opportunities that are created and the fact that we still haven’t scored at the rate that we need, at the rate that we created Fits in with opportunities, yes, I think it’s clear that we haven’t found a consistent way to get the best out of our best people.”

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LAFC’s best stretch came from late May to late July when he produced 17 of 27 possible points, while Vela returned from injury – for the first time – and started with Rossi.

Their success is understandable as the pair were LAFC’s major threats during the club’s first three seasons – the same is certainly true when it comes to Sunday’s rival, the rival LA Galaxy, who conceded 16 goals to two attackers.

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