The nature of MLS makes it nearly impossible not to become reliant on star performers like Vela and Rossi; Seattle are in a comparable position as they continue to make due without longtime linchpin Nico Lodeiro, for example. How teams with their levels of ambition replace players who are almost by definition irreplaceable can be hugely influential on the standings, and beyond.
“We pride ourselves on the way we train every day. We always try to push players [so] that when the moment comes, that they’re ready, they’re excited, that their teammates have confidence in them,” said Bradley of his team’s depth. “Certain guys on the field, you see the experience paying off and them getting better every day in training and then getting tested on the field in the game.”
With the clock ticking on the big names’ return to full fitness, these minutes are an audition of sorts, a fleeting moment to muscle into the regular rotation. The next few weeks could tell us much about the young players in Seattle and LA being offered those chances.