Real Salt Lake head to Los Angeles to take on an undefeated LAFC. We caught up with Angels On Parade’s Alicia Rodriguez about the team’s offseason changes, game expectations, and exorcising demons.
RSL Soapbox’s questions of Angels On Parade:
1) It’s still early in the season, but Los Angeles FC are looking very strong. What off-season moves most helped to improve the team?
To be honest, I think the big thing LAFC did in the offseason was maintain continuity for the most part. So far, only one starter, center back Eddie Segura, is new, and listening to players, it is clear they are happy to keep the same group intact and push on. Bob Bradley has tried to implement a pretty radical playing system, and it seems like the goal is to perfect the system and they’re confident it will lead to titles. Time will tell, of course, but a good start seems to be validating that decision so far.
2) Saturday is an international break and Real Salt Lake will have four players (three of whom are starters) out. Will LAFC be missing anyone, and if so, how will Bradley adjust in their absence?
LAFC will be missing five players, although only two, forward Christian Ramirez and midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye, have been starting this year. In the case of Ramirez, Adama Diomande will likely slot right in as the starter, so that’s not really a concern, and winger Latif Blessing started in central midfield last week, surprisingly, and played quite well for it being his first time at the position in MLS. I’d definitely say midfield is the bigger concern in general for LAFC, since that three-man group has considerable responsibilities on both sides of the ball, but if a player is given a chance, he could rise to the occasion and make a case for why he should be in consideration to start moving forward. Comparing the two teams, I’d say LAFC has less to be worried about in light of the international break, but you never know how taking a player or two will change the makeup of the lineup.
3) The last time RSL and LAFC met, Real unexpectedly came out ahead, knocking LAFC out of the playoffs. Will that loss effect the players in anyway or how Bradley approaches this game?
I think in public, the team will say it doesn’t matter at all but I would be shocked if they aren’t trying to derive at least a little motivation from the playoff exit. LAFC made a solid case that the playoff game was fairly fluky, but in a one-game knockout, sometimes that happens, and LAFC were truly sucker-punched. I think the playoff loss is going to serve as motivation all year, because they’ll want to do better this season, but I don’t expect LAFC to say that this, a regular-season game in March, is equivalent to a playoff game in November, because it’s not. Still, I think LAFC will be truly up for this game, no question.
You can read our responses to Angels On Parade’s questions here: