TORONTO – On the cusp of an historic season, the next challenge ahead of LAFC is a familial one, for Bob Bradley at least.
Michael Bradley’s Toronto FC travel to Los Angeles between the two legs of the 2019 Canadian Championship for an MLS match Saturday (10:30 pm ET | TSN 1/4 — Full TV & streaming info) against Supporters’ Shield-leading LAFC – a second round of father versus son.
In anticipation, communication has not ceased.
“We have a great relationship, nothing will change that, not even an LAFC-Toronto game,” said a relaxed Michael Bradley earlier this week. “I’ll look forward to seeing him, to seeing my mom.”
SeatGeek has great deals for future MLS matchesGET TICKETS Official Ticketing Partner of Major League Soccer
“For 33 games a year, there’s no bigger LAFC fan than me and quite honestly no bigger TFC fan than him,” he added, reframing a joke from last year and the year before. “This is the one game where that gets put aside a little bit, but in our own way, we still enjoy this as well.”
Having already clinched the top spot in the West and poised to wrap up the Supporter’s Shield in a record-breaking season, LAFC is Bob’s vision come to fruition.
“From the day that he got there, he was excited and determined to build a team that played real football, went after every game, home or away, regardless of who they were playing against in the same way,” said Michael. “To play football, be dynamic, be aggressive, win the ball back quickly, step up and press.”
“From afar, they’re so much fun to watch,” smiled the younger Bradley. “When I get home after a big win at BMO [Field], there’s nothing I enjoy more than being able to sit down and watch them play – the way they go about it, what games look like from their stadium. The club has been great for the league and the way they’ve built their team has been amazing to watch.”
Greg Vanney sees characteristics of his former coach in LAFC, too.
“There is this relentless tenacity that the group has. They’re organized, which Bob’s teams have always had,” he said. “They have a lot of quality, but there is a grittiness about them that makes them tough to play.”
“They’re aggressive – trying to defend high, trying to be proactive throughout the course of the games. You see a lot of things there that are reminiscent of Bob,” continued the TFC coach. “But Bob also is practical and pragmatic.”
And though Toronto’s 2017 record for most points in a single-season (69) fell last year to the New York Red Bulls (71) and was tied by Atlanta United FC, that treble-winning team is remembered as one of the greatest MLS sides of all time.
LAFC, with four games left to take the eight points that would see them set a new mark, are making a case to be included in that pantheon.
Michael Bradley is open to comparisons.
“Their commitment and determination to go after every game and to be so ruthless, that was certainly something that we had for a good portion of 2016, 2017, and the beginning of 2018,” he said. “That part of their mentality, the football that they play, how aggressive they are, the way they attack teams, the way they put teams on their heels, we were able to do that on a lot of days.”
The Toronto FC captain did have one issue with the premise, however.
“I’m not going to talk about us in the past tense. The second half of last season was a blip, for sure,” Bradley cautioned. “Things here aren’t dead yet, not even close.”