There’s still a lot of work to be done for Los Angeles FC. There are still players to sign, moves to make. They are still very much a work in progress.
That progress, though, is moving rapidly, and it took another step on Friday at the MLS Draft.
With the top overall selection, LAFC selected Akron defender Joao Moutinho, fortifying the backline with a player that could feature at either centerback or left back. After trading with D.C. United, they then snagged right back Tristan Blackmon to add another young piece to the defense.
As the team continues to add pieces, Bob Braldey is comfortable with the process so far. The first step is to put the pieces in place and, once that’s set, the club’s identity can begin to take shape.
“(It’s) pretty good. I also think we still need to add a few more players,” Bradley said. “We’re in different kinds of discussions and the picture of what your team is going to look like constantly changes. You’re always adjusting a little bit based on what a player brings.”
“I think they’re good players,” he added of his two first round picks. “We’re still at a point where, as you start to build a roster, you look for talent and you look for young talent that has an upside. Those two players absolutely fit into that.”
In Moutinho and Blackmon, LAFC added another pair of talented youngsters to go with one of the club’s bigger signings, Diego Rossi. The Young Designated Player is “fun to watch” with his ability on the wing, according to Bradley, and is a player that the former U.S. Men’s National Team boss projects as a striker some day.
In terms of veterans, the club’s defense will be anchored by two defenders with impressive MLS resumes in Laurent Ciman and Walker Zimmerman, while veteran Steven Beitashour is also involved. In the attack, there’s Carlos Vela leading the way as the team’s marquee player.
The midfield, meanwhile, is a work in ptogress. Egyptian Omar Gaber projects as a potential defensive midfiedler while Benny Feilhaber’s playmaking ability is a welcome boost. However, Braldey knows the club needs to add more to that part of the field.
“We’re still in some good discussions about midfielders,” Bradley said. “If you want to be a team that controls games, you need midfielders who can do these things. In those ways, we have starting points where you look at the guys in the front and the guys in the back. A guy like Benny Feilhaber gives an indication to all of you of the kind of football that we want in the middle of the field.
“There are some bigger discussions going on, as you know. You see the speculation. You have to see how some of those play out and those will give us a better idea of how we look as a complete team.”
Bradley is looking forward to getting his group together for preseason. He’s looking forward to seeing what young players like Blackmon and Moutinho are made of now that the speed and intensity kicks off a notch. He’s looking forward to watching his defense build chemistry. He’s looking forward to seeing how his attack clicks together.
The goal between now and then? Add as many talented, smart players as possible, and once you get those players together on the field, Bradley says he can start challenging them.
No one will take LAFC lightly, Bradley says. No one will treat them like an expansion team and no one will feel bad for LAFC if they need time to figure things out. Bradley’s goal, then, is to have the team ready by opening day and prepared for what has the potential to be an exciting season for those within and around the club.
“That’s going to be quite an exciting day,” Bradley said. “The stadium is flying up. The structure, the architecture, the location is all really amazing. All of those ways, now we have to have a team that’s ready to perform in front of our supporters and show them that the football they’re going to see is going to be special.
“At the simplest level, you’re looking for good players and good guys,” he added, “and you try and challenge them every day to help them understand what a good team is all about.”