LOS ANGELES – Eleven points. That’s how close in the table LAFC hovers over the next Western Conference team, the Seattle Sounders. In the race for the Supporters’ Shield, they are 10 points ahead of Philadelphia Union even after having played two fewer games.
But most importantly, at least for this week, is that the second-year club sit ahead of their next opponent and rivals, the LA Galaxy. In this year’s first edition of El Trafico, they’ll face off at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., this Friday (10 pm ET | ESPN2, TSN2 — Full TV & streaming info).
LAFC are on track to break several personal and team records this season, but after training on Monday, the Black & Gold’s players and coach weren’t too caught up in the hype.
“We feel good about the position we’re in, but we understand that in order to compete for Supporters’ Shield, then we’ve got to continue in the right way,” Bob Bradley told MLSsoccer.com at LAFC’s Performance Center.
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"Everyone knows that at the beginning of the season, you’re competing for three trophies. We were disappointed in the 1-0 loss to Portland in the Open Cup, but we also used it to reset our sights on the Supporters Shield and how that can put us in a very good position in the playoffs and to try to compete for MLS Cup.”
Last season, the MLS debutants lost the first-ever El Trafico in dramatic fashion before battling to two draws in their other two league meetings.
Beating their rivals for the first time and doing it away from home would be special, but veteran defender Steven Beitashour sees it as little more than the next step in a more important journey.
“For us, it’s about the big picture,” Beitashour said. “Every game we play we want to win, regardless if it’s Galaxy, Montreal, Portland or whoever. If it’s home, away, I don’t think it really matters if we just go into every situation where we want to win.”
Beitashour, who won MLS Cup with a record-setting Toronto FC side in 2017, saw several similarities between with his current side and the league champions of two years ago.
“It reminds me a lot of our Toronto team in 2017 where we were constantly winning, but it wasn’t a surprise to anyone,” Beitashour said. “People didn’t have this date circled or that date circled. We would win the Canadian Championship and it was all just steps to get where we wanted and that was MLS Cup final.”
With that attitude, only three points will be satisfactory for LAFC.
“A lot of teams would be satisfied when they get ties on the road,” Beitashour said. “That’s their goal, is to get a point on the road. I’ve seen a couple times where our guys are upset we only came out with a tie and the other team is happy. It’s indicative of the season we’re having, but the type of football that we play, regardless of home or away, we want to win."