LAFC head coach Bob Bradley has made a number of comparisons about his club and Barcelona since taking over.
There was that awesome clip where he challenged Carlos Vela to become their Lionel Messi (and then Vela went out and did that). Their style of play has shades of Barcelona in it, too. They dominate possession but, most similarly, feverishly look to counter-press in the attacking third when the ball is lost.
They've rode that model to the quarterfinals of the MLS is Back Tournament where they'll face Orlando City SC on Friday (7:30 pm ET | FS1, TUDN). Orlando midfielder Uri Rosell is a graduate of Barcelona's famed academy, La Masia, and sees the similarities between his boyhood club and his quarterfinal opponents.
“The way LAFC counter-press is similar to Barcelona," Rosell told reporters on a video conference call Wednesday. "Like Barcelona, they possess the ball the majority of time and are in a very good position when they lose it so within 3-5 seconds they can get it back. I saw that when they played against Seattle, they were very good with that. We’ll have to be very concentrated.”
Orlando are focused on themselves, too. They aren't in the quarterfinals by accident.
The Lions beat Inter Miami CF and NYCFC in the group stage, then tied the Philadelphia Union. In the Round of 16 they eased past the Montreal Impact, setting up a marquee test against the reigning Supporters' Shield winners and regular-season record breakers.
“We respect them, but at the same time, we have confidence in what we do," Orlando head coach Oscar Pareja said. "We have confidence in our defensive models. Not just Pedro [Gallese] and the defenders, but everybody. We understand the challenge, they have very good numbers offensively, but we’d like to have our ways to hurt them too.
“We have to match their intensity,” he added. “They may need to match our creativity, too."