It’s always positive to get a road point in MLS, goalscorer Corey Baird noted, but they expect more from every match. After the ex-Real Salt Lake forward scored in the 55th minute, LAFC’s lead evaporated by the 57th minute when Tyler Pasher got behind their backline to punch home a Fafa Picault cross.
“We're looking at that like points dropped,” Baird said. “We're a team that goes out and believes we can truly win every single game and we should win every single game if we're playing at the level that we think we're at.
“Today, for example, if you look around the locker room after the game, people aren't happy. It feels probably more like a loss than a win even though we're still getting points on the road and road games are always difficult. That shows the mentality of the team that we do believe that we are a top team and we're going to go out there and win every game.”
Starting undefeated through three games is a net positive, of course, but head coach Bob Bradley strives for more. Diego Rossi going the full 90 minutes against Houston in his 2021 season debut helps those ambitions, while they’re still waiting for star forward Carlos Vela to feature after his first-half substitute confusion (injury) on opening weekend.
“Overall it was a day where I didn't think our football was as good as it needs to be,” Bradley said. “Not enough guys with good games, just missing that sharpness, the timing, in some cases running out of ideas. I think we felt that that part, all game long, it just wasn't at the level we need.”
LAFC will need more sharpness next weekend when facing rivals LA Galaxy in the season’s first El Trafico. They’re heading to Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday (8 pm ET | FOX, FOX Deportes), rekindling their cross-city rivalry against the Chicharito-fueled MLS originals who are now led by head coach Greg Vanney.
Put simply, Bradley said they’re “not yet at our best.” The upcoming week of training and Vela’s possible return will go a long way in grabbing an early El Trafico advantage.
“As I mentioned, today, for me, football-wise was the worst of the three games just in terms of the pure sharpness of handling certain situations, making the right play, the right timing,” Bradley said. “So I think we're still a good team, no doubt about that. I'm pleased that overall defensively we don't give too much away.”
As LAFC look to reach another gear, Baird stressed that they have plenty of room to grow. The center-back partnership of Eddie Segura and Jesus David Murillo looks strong, Eduard Atuesta is bossing the midfield and Rossi is back, so the pieces are in place.
“I definitely don't think we've played our best soccer yet,” Baird said. “Some of the things we've done in preseason, some of the days we've had where we were playing top-level were incredible. If we can get to that on a more consistent basis, I think we'll be a fun team to watch play.”