LAFC hope historic blowout of Vancouver isn't a one-off: "Hopefully it's a game that we can build on"

Bradley Wright-Phillips - Jose Cifuentes - High fiving

During a historic first-half blitz that saw them score an MLS record four goals in the first 14 minutes of their match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday, LAFC looked very much like the big bad version of themselves we all grew accustomed to watching in 2019.

The explosive start to the match against Vancouver was impressive to be sure. But after the match, which ended in a 6-0 victory, head coach Bob Bradley wasn't dubbing this a breakout for his team just yet. For Bradley, it's about finding the type of form his side displayed on Wednesday and figuring out how to channel it consistently.

LAFC have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde group since returning from the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, mixing in results like Wednesday's thrashing of Vancouver, their 5-1 trouncing of the San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 2 and their 4-2 over the Portland Timbers on Sept. 13 with a handful of results that have been lopsided against them in the opposite direction. After Wednesday's match, Bradley said that pursuit of consistency is ongoing.

"We started very quickly, immediately attacked down the left side, scored goals off set pieces," Bradley said. "A lot of positives, important for us to have a shutout tonight, something that we haven't had for a while. So hopefully it's a game that we can build on. But we felt good. There was a lot of moments where the football was sharp, we created good chances and we feel good about that. Now we just keep going, the games continue to come quickly."

While LAFC are hoping the match will be a launchpad to some more consistent form, it's the opposite for the Whitecaps, who came into the match feeling good after winning three of their last four games but are leaving it scratching their heads as to how it got away from them so quickly after kickoff.

Head coach Marc Dos Santos said he didn't know to explain what transpired during that opening stretch that saw LAFC start pouring in goals, seemingly at will.

"It's so hard to explain the first 14 minutes," Dos Santos said. "The first 14 minutes looked like it was going towards a huge nightmare. We were late to everything. We were not focused. The first two goals from corner kicks were situations, easy to control. And then when you're 4-0 down after 14 minutes, you have to make sure that at least you stop the bleeding. Because the reality was we're not going to win this game 5-4. Now we have to stop the bleeding, survive until the end and remember that at the end of this night, we lose three points. We didn't lose nine points. We lost three points."

Part of it was just some vintage work from LAFC striker Bradley Wright-Phillips who looked like the peak version of himself from his New York Red Bulls days with a pair of sublime first-half goals. LAFC have still been operating without Carlos Vela, and Wright-Phillips probably can't play 90 minutes every time out anymore, but the Englishman not only showed on Wednesday that not only can he still score goals in MLS -- he can do so in style.

With his second goal on Wednesday, Wright-Phillips also tied former MLS stalwart Ante Razov, who is currently an LAFC assistant coach, for sixth on the MLS all-time goal-scoring list.

"Brad is a real goal-scorer, just has a way of finding space in the box, can finish," Bradley said. "Ante was a player that if he got any kind of chance on his left foot he was deadly. So not exactly the same kind of players, but both great strikers. I know Ante has really enjoyed working with Brad and we're excited for him, that's a great moment."

As they look to find the consistency Bradley spoke of, the return of midfielder Eduard Atuesta could act as another added boost. The 23-year-old has been working his way back from injury and played 72 minutes on Wednesday as he works his way back to full fitness.

"It's about how you set the standard every day, how do you know how to challenge, encourage, push your teammates." Bradley said. "How do you make sure when guys come in every day, especially during a difficult period, that guys are excited to show up, excited to get on the field for training. I count on all those guys, it's about being sharp in training and making sure the football things we want to do well are there every day. 

"Eduard is a huge part of that. Certainly we felt that when we were in Orlando even after that even after we went from March to July without a game, I still felt like when we got there, the push to play the way we want to play, to control games, to go fast, I thought those things were there. We made some mistakes, gave up some goals. Late in games teams equalized off of set pieces. But you could see all those guys taking bigger roles, and certainly Eduard is a key part of that."