With a short-staffed squad, Los Angeles FC is adjusting training around the FIFA break.
The team sent six players to national duty this week — Carlos Vela for Mexico, Laurent Ciman for Belgium, Omar Gaber for Egypt, Marco Ureña for Costa Rica, and Dejan Jakovic and Mark-Anthony Kaye for Canada. Four of those players — Vela, Ciman, Gaber and Ureña — could rejoin their teams this summer for the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“We’re excited that we have guys that are in the mix with our national teams,” Bradley said. “We want to be a club that challenges players in the right ways. We want to be a club where guys feel they are getting better. And one of the things that highlights that getting opportunities with your national team.”
Although Bradley is excited to see so many members of his team embark on international stints, he admitted that the transition back to club play can be difficult for many athletes. These six players will return next week ahead of the Galaxy game, an almost-homecoming for the club against a team that it is desperately attempting to turn into a rival. They will only have a few days to readjust and reload to take on the 1-1 Galaxy and defend their early spot atop the Western conference.
“One of the things that is a challenge for anybody that is playing on a national team is being able to switch gears quickly,” Bradley said. “You go from a club environment to your national team and you need to transition well. Then, regardless of what happens with the national team, the ability to come back to your club and jump right back into things is something that becomes really important.”
With the departure of those six players, the team’s roster is down to only 16 total athletes. Without enough numbers to fully scrimmage and run typical drills, Bradley’s team split up for more focused position-based training. This will have to suffice until the full team returns to the pitch next week ahead of training for the LA Galaxy game.
“On the club side, it’s not ideal,” Bradley said. “So, what you try to do then is break training down in different ways.”
A good sign for the club was the return of Walker Zimmerman, who returned to full training with the rest of his team earlier this week. Zimmerman was pulled from the roster hours before the team’s season opener in Seattle with a hamstring injury, and hasn’t been back on the pitch with his teammates since. He is now aiming to be fully available for the team’s game against the Galaxy.