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.”

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.”