While the Los Angeles Football Club won’t have four starters for Tuesday night’s opening game of the MLS Cup Playoff, Coach Bob Bradley is unwilling to accept any underdog labels.
The quartet of Diego Rossi (Uruaguay), Brian Rodriguez (Uruaguay), Jose Cifuentes (Ecuador) and Diego Palacios (Ecuador) all traveled to South America for World Cup qualifying earlier this month and all four are after tests in their own country stayed. positive for the coronavirus, forcing Bradley to focus on his depth.
LAFC, the seventh seed in the Western Conference, will once again meet second-seeded Seattle Sounders (7:30 PM, ESPN) in a round one playoff game.
The Major League Soccer playoffs are played in one-elimination format. The winner will face FC Dallas in the semifinals of the conference later this week.
“We’re not calling it in an underdog role,” Bradley said. “We always believe that when you put a group on the field, you have prepared those guys to step forward, shut down, play at a good pace and play the kind of football that we’ve always played.
“They are opportunities for players and we know we are missing some guys in this game, but we still have to make sure everyone is ready to go and that the focus is on the team.”
The teams met four times during the regular season and, more importantly, they met in the final of last season’s Western Conference. That evening, Seattle entered the Banc of California Stadium and handed LAFC a 3-1 loss.
“Always a tough game,” Bradley said of Seattle. “We’ve had very good games with them from the start, but we know they came here last year and knocked us out of the playoffs in the final of the conference. So we have to see if we can level that score and go over there and be at our best. ”
This season, LAFC won its first meeting 4-1, July 27, at the MLS is Back Tournament. The Sounders responded with a 3-1 win on August 30 and a 3-0 win on September 18). Both games were in Seattle.
“This year was complicated for us,” said LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta. “We played with at least two main players throughout the year. It has been a good training to deal with situations like that. We have to rely on our good football. ”
In the last regular season meeting between the teams, LAFC, with a number of missing players, including the aforementioned Rossi-Rodriguez-Palacios-Cifuentes quartet, rolled to a 3-1 victory on October 11.
Contrary to that result and the other three times, LAFC will have Carlos Vela on the field. Vela went into the last game of the regular season for 90 minutes. He sustained an MCL sprain in the first game of the MLS reboot, August 22.
He is counted on to take the lead with Bradley Wright-Phillips, Danny Musovski and 16-year-old Christian Torres.
“We had to rely on everyone this season,” said LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye. “I don’t think that happens that often in an MLS year where you can have 95 percent of your roster played games. So I think those moments were important for times like this, now we’re going to miss Diego (Rossi), Brian (Rodriguez), Cifu (Jose Cifuentes), and Chiqui (Diego Palacios), but this is what a team is, you need a take it one step further and we believe that the guys who take to the field will do the job. ”