Bob Bradley: Diego Rossi hasn’t missed a beat before MLS is Back Tournament

    LAFC head coach Bob Bradley is excited by what Diego Rossi could bring at the MLS is Back Tournament, particularly from a fitness standpoint.

    Before what will amount to a four-month layoff from games, the Uruguayan winger has impressed in training sessions. Rossi, a key player for LAFC since their inaugural 2018 season, has 29 goals and 16 assists across 68 regular-season appearances.

    “During the layoff, it was a real challenge to keep guys going,” Bradley said. “Our performance staff … did an excellent job. Most guys came back, I think, in good shape. But I think Diego is still the one who set the bar the highest. He looked like he didn’t miss a beat, and he’s been really good in training in this last stretch.”

    LAFC, who open their Group F slate July 13 (8 pm ET | FS1, TUDN; TSN in Canada) against the Houston Dynamo, could also see the debut of Bradley Wright-Phillips. The striker joined this past offseason after departing the New York Red Bulls, sitting tied for seventh on the MLS all-time goals scored (108) list.

    BWP dealt with injuries during the 2019 campaign, and figures to face stiff competition for the No. 9 role alongside Adama Diomande. The availability of Carlos Vela is another factor, with the reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP awaiting the birth of his child.

    “Bradley Wright-Phillips has made progress,” Bradley said. “He’s back in regular training. Not ready to play a full match by any means, but I still think he can give us some really good minutes in Orlando.”

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    As the pieces come together, LAFC are naturally one of the favorites after winning the 2019 Supporters’ Shield at a record-setting points pace (72). Like every team, they’ll be contending with going from COVID-19 lockdown to meaningful competition.

    “It’s not a period of time where you get to have that preseason friendly, which of course makes a difference,” Bradley said. “So, we’ve tried to create situations in our regular training. We’ve had some 11-on-11 full field [scrimmages], and in all those ways I think the guys are in a good way and ready to meet the next challenge.”

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