Archive for the ‘LAFC’ Category

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MLS Commissioner Don Garber in Vancouver, B.C. – Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C – The current MLS collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on January 31, 2020. The possibility of a work disruption next season continues to grow as MLS owners and the MLSPA look to improve the league.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber, was in Vancouver ahead of Whitecaps FC’s 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday at B.C. Place. Garber appears ready for a strike.

“Certainly the league would be very prepared for a work stoppage. We are in the pro sports business, and all leagues are preparing for any outcome. You don’t go into any negotiation, on any deal that you’re trying to do, talking about the worst outcome. You try to talk about the best possible outcome. I’ve been in this job for twenty years, and this will be our fourth CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement). Every one of them is difficult.”

If there is going to be labour peace next season, the MLSPA must find some common ground on a wide range of topics. The most contentious issue is charter flights. Each MLS team is permitted four charter flights a season. If a team is traveling for an away match and use a charter, to and from their destination, that would count as two charter flights.

Several players have taken to social media throughout the season to share all the travel delays, frustration, and sleep deprivation they have endured while flying the not so friendly skies.

An vast increase in charter flights will be the hill the MLSPA dies on.

The NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB and semi-final playoff bound WNBA teams have charter flights.

Would Commissioner, Garber be supportive of 100% charter flights next season?

“It’s a difficult question to give you a simple answer to,” Garber bemused the question from Har Journalist. “Of course I would be supportive of 100% charters. In the context of everything else that the players are going to be looking for, it all needs to go into the pot. We mutually need to decide how an available pool of money is going to be allocated to a wide variety of needs.

Players are looking for increased compensation. They’re looking for increased movement, an increased number of charters. All that goes into a pot and is stirred around, and then you hope to reach an agreement on all things.”

As MLS continues to add new teams, the price tag for expansion fees continues to soar to $200 million. However, at the end of the day there is only a certain amount of money available in the proverbial ‘pot.’ If the MLSPA wants a massive increase in the amount of charter flights that are available to teams, they can point to sky high expansion fees.

The average cost for a full team charter flight ranges from $150,000 to $200,000 per flight.

Perhaps it would make sense if part of the money that owners earn from expansion fees went into a ‘pot’ to help pay for, and provide more charter flights.

“We do allow our teams to travel via charter on a limited basis,” Garber explained. “I can assure you that there will be more charter travel in the new CBA. Whether it goes all the way to 100%, I think it’s a function of how negotiations go.”

Having available charters is fantastic, but getting an MLS owner with deep pockets to actually use the charter flights that are available is a whole other issue. Several MLS teams don’t use all their charters.

The club with the most travel of any MLS team this season has used 1/4 charters. Whitecaps FC were caught in a storm in Kansas City, while trying to get to New Jersey for a mid-week match against New York Red Bulls. Vancouver was forced to use a charter on May 21, to get to Newark, for a match the next day.

How would Commissioner Garber, make sure owners actually use their charter flights?

“I would assume our teams are utilizing their charter allocation,” Garber said. “You’re shaking your head, so maybe not in Vancouver. I don’t know how many are, and how many aren’t. I would assume that all of our teams are utilizing the vast majority of their approved charters.”

“Does anybody know?” Garber asked the room full or reporters and his staff.

It would be great for players, fans, and the overall sport of more charters were available for teams to use. Players would be well rested, flight delays, and cancellations would be minimal, and the product on the pitch would be better. If MLS wants to take the next step and continue to evolve as a top tier league in North America, more charters are must.

Making sure MLS owners use all their charter flights is a whole other kettle of fish. That’s why Major League Soccer and the MLSPA could be headed for a lengthy work stoppage.

“It would surprise me if a lot of them were not utilizing them,” Garber doubled down.

“It would surprise me a lot, frankly.”

“I don’t know why they wouldn’t. This is the first time I’ve ever heard that they weren’t using it.”

The good news is that MLS owners and MLSPA have been talking. There is a mutual level of respect between both parties. It is hoped that they can continue with positive discussions behind closed doors as apposed to public posturing.

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VANCOUVER, B.C – It takes a full team that’s committed from the first day of preseason to buy in, and be a successful MLS club. LAFC are 7-1-1 on the season, and sitting pretty at the top of the MLS table. LAFC can flick a switch and score in bunches.

Yes, it’s early, but Bob Bradley’s side are easily the team to beat. Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi, and Christian Ramirez are leading the way on offence, but LAFC are equally talented on the back line with a pair of defenders that provide a strong veteran presence.

Steven Beitashour, and Jordan Harvey bring the kind of leadership, and MLS experience that a lot of MLS teams simply don’t have. LAFC’s full backs know what it takes to win. They’re out to prove that they still have a lot of left in the tank. Not only is LAFC a thriving on the pitch, but they are a well connected side off the pitch.

“Yeah, I think we’ve been gelling,” Beitashour explained. “Obviously that comradorite and having a year together, and really getting familiar with your teammates. In Bob’s (Bradley) system, I think it’s a very unique style. There’s a specific way he wants to play, and I think now, we’re really comfortable with it. You can see that, in the way that we’ve started so far.”

It also helps to have early season MVP candidate, Carlos Vela who has already scored 10 goals this season. A team that has the quality, and depth that LAFC has, doesn’t need a lot of opportunities to score.

Vela, and Rossi have combined for 16 goals, and 6 assists.

Having the ability to throw Vela, and Rossi at opposition defenders is a great problem to have for Bradley and his coaching staff. It’s also a luxury to be able to compete against the duo each day in practice.

“Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun playing with them, and going against them,” Harvey told Har Journalist, in Vancouver. “I think that’s something that kind of gets overlooked. As defenders, we get to go against some really special attackers every day in training, and that really helps us out. When we step on the pitch, we’ve been playing against the best players, I feel like, in MLS. When you come on, it makes your job a little bit easier, and you know what to expect a little bit more.”

While both Beitashour, and Harvey have spent considerable time playing in Canada, they have always played in a similar natural full back role. Now that they’re in Los Angeles, that role hasn’t changed much. The duo is still offensive minded, with a few additions.

“You’ve seen us both play for long enough, you know our roles,” Beitashour joked.

It’s not enough to rush up the pitch and contribute on offence. That’s already expected from a modern full back. The ability to add another offensive dimension without jeopardizing your defence, is what separates outstanding full backs.

“It’s similar to what we’ve been doing our whole careers,” Beitashour said “At the same time. I think there are moments when we are tucked in more, and almost playing, like a central role. Maybe in the past it’s more stay wide, get up, and get down. Over here, I think we’re tucked in a little more, and able to connect with passes. When we don’t have the ball, we’re also offensive marking, and preventing any counter-attacks that could happen.

“I would agree,” Harvey said.

The 32-year-old, Steven Beitashour, and 35-year-old, Jordan Harvey, are the type of MLS veterans you need to win an MLS championship. They put the work in each day, bring a positive mindset, and want to help the next generation.

Together they are hoping they can help LAFC reach the ultimate goal this season.

“The ultimate goal is MLS Cup,” Beitashour smiled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MLS Soccer - Los Angeles FC v Real Salt Lake

VANCOUVER, B.C – Vancouver Whitecaps FC are back in action on Wednesday night as they host high-flying LAFC at B.C Place. The top team in MLS, brings a 6-0-1 (19 points), record to take on a Vancouver side, 0-4-2 (2-points), that’s still looking for their first win of the season.

The visitors won’t make it easy for a Whitecaps FC squad that has scored five goals this season, and none in the last 189 minutes at home. LAFC’s Carlos Vela, leads MLS with 8 goals, 5 assists, 41 shot attempts, and 16 shots on target. Vela is an early season MVP candidate. As if he weren’t dangerous enough, Diego Rossi has 6 goals to his name.

“LAFC is coming in with some big guns,” Russell Teibert explained. “They know how to score goals and they’ve proved that early on this season. They’ve got one of the hottest player in MLS, if not two. If you want a test, if you want a statement game. This is the game that you want to play.”

How do you put a silencer on a duo that’s caused so many problems for the opposition?

“I think you answered the question yourself,” Teibert laughed. “You put a silencer on it, isn’t that what a silencer is for? You know they’re going to get the ball. You’ve just got to limit the areas where they do get the ball.”

Whitecaps FC skipper, Jon Erice knows exactly the type of quality Vela brings. He remembers a young teenager on loan in La Liga, looking to make an impact during the 2007-08 season. It was many moons ago, but Erice quickly noticed the talent, and skill, Vela had.

“Carlos was a very good guy,” Erice recalled. “He was young when he came to CA Osasuna, on loan from Arsenal. He was a very good guy, and he was also a fantastic player. With Real Sociedad, he was one of the best players in La Liga. We enjoyed him a lot in La Liga.”

“His level now, I think is the best level in his career,” Erice continued. “He’s mature, and he knows what to do all the time, with, and without the ball. He’s so clever in the field, and has such quality. He has improved a lot in the last fourteen years. He was a great player, and now he’s one of the best… maybe in the world.” 

Whitecaps FC Head Coach Marc Dos Santos is still looking for his first MLS win. What a feat it would be to do that against the team he was an assistant coach with last season. Having the inside knowledge that Dos Santos has with LAFC, could make all the difference. If there is a blueprint for LAFC, there’s a good chance Dos Santos has it in his memory bank.

“We know exactly what they’re going to be about,” Dos Santos explained to reporters earlier this week. “We know exactly how we can hurt them, but then we need the execution to come. You can know the places that will hurt them, and the places where they are weak. You need to make sure the first pass that gets into those places is good, and the runs are good.”

“One thing is to know, and the other is execution. We know their strengths and some are very obvious. The pressure that they put is very very high. Players like Carlos and Diego, they have fourteen of the nineteen goals they’ve scored. It tells you right away, that if those two guys are in a hot night, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”

Whether or not Vela, and Rossi light up Whitecaps FC, or Vancouver sends LAFC to their first defeat. It’s going to be a hot atmosphere inside B.C. Place. A restless fan base wants to see wins, and the pressure is mounting.

“You’re putting pressure on us, and we want that pressure,” Teibert admitted. “We know we only have two points, and we know we are going to be better. If we want to make a statement in this league, to you guys, and ourselves. This is the game we need to go out and win.”

“Of course we have pressure,” Erice agreed. “We are professional players, but this is normal in soccer. If you don’t want to feel pressure, maybe you have to do something different.”

LAFC have been playing consistent ninety minute football, and Vancouver hasn’t been able to put that type of effort together. It’s up to Whitecaps FC to show they can compete with the best team in MLS, or it could be a long evening.

HARRISON, N.J. – Please visit Red Nation Online for my feature on LAFC left-back Jordan Harvey.

https://bit.ly/2M7c7w5

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LAFC left-back Jordan Harvey on Sunday, August 5th in Harrison, N.J. 

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