Bob Bradley: LAFC didn't play "our sharpest football" in MLS is Back Tournament exit

LAFC head coach Bob Bradley was remarkably straightforward after his team bounced out of the MLS is Back Tournament quarterfinals, losing in a penalty-kick shootout against Orlando City.

The defending Supporters’ Shield champions were held without a shot until a 60th-minute Bradley Wright-Phillips goal, and failed to see the match out when their former No. 1 SuperDraft pick Joao Moutinho headed home a 90th-minute equalizer on a corner kick.

“I think you could see from the start that physically we weren’t at our best tonight,” Bradley said. “So it’s a lot of games in a short amount of time. We spoke at halftime to see if we could raise the level a little bit. We did. But it certainly wasn’t our sharpest football night either.”

The Black & Gold faced a four-day turnover from their emotional 4-1 win over the Seattle Sounders in the Round of 16, and Wright-Phillips noted the tight window. He enjoyed a strong tournament with four goals in five matches, shining after Carlos Vela withdrew (family reasons) and Adama Diomande (foot injury) departed early.  

“It was obviously something that maybe the games were building up,” Wright-Phillips said. “I’m not really too sure, but every player wasn’t as sharp as they can be. It showed definitely in the first half. It’s the reason we didn’t get the result we wanted. I think if we’re sharp, we win that game.”

LAFC were rampant before encountering Orlando, scoring no fewer than two goals in their prior four Tournament matches. Diego Rossi, who leads Golden Boot race presented by Audi with seven goals, was held off the scoresheet though did he assist BWP’s tally.

Asked about what made Orlando so successful—LAFC did not register a shot on goal in a half for the first time in their brief club history—Bradley focused more on his team’s shortcomings as they come to grips with yet another disappointing knockout round elimination. 

“They play certain balls forward towards [Tesho] Akindele. They’ve got some ideas about how to build out of the back. I think [Mauricio] Pereyra is a good player,” Bradley said. “So they’re making progress as a team, but it’s not easy for me to assess the other team on a night where I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to be at our best. It’s not something that’s easy to give a good answer to.”

The difference in the PK shootout was Jordan Harvey’s miss, as the veteran left back rifled his attempt off the crossbar. LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer couldn’t conjure up heroics, after the Dutch newcomer brilliantly stopped Nani’s penalty attempt in the 57th minute of regulation. Nani and Vermeer would face off again on the final spot kick in the shootout, and this time Nani would make amends on his earlier miss.

Tensions were high at the conclusion of the match with words exchanged between the two sides, but Wright-Phillips wasn't about to add fuel to that conversation postgame: "It doesn’t even matter. Whatever. You guys saw it. Congratulations to them."

That leaves LAFC awaiting next steps in the 2020 regular season, knowing their inability to preserve a 1-0 lead ended their stay at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

“We just didn’t do enough all around the field,” Wright-Phillips said. “We weren’t alert enough. Our reactions weren’t great. We’ve still done enough to get a goal, and I think we just got to see it out there."

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