LAFC's Bradley says playing MLS game without fans 'has no soul'

LAFC manager Bob Bradley said that "a game without fans has no soul," but faced with the likely possibility of playing games behind closed doors, he added that he also understood why MLS may take that route.

"You've got to find ways in tough times to adapt," he said during a conference call with reporters.

MLS has been shut down since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the league said in a statement that it would likely remain closed beyond the May 10 target date for reopening. In an exclusive interview with Taylor Twellman, MLS commissioner Don Garber added that the league was looking at the possibility of playing games in empty stadiums, referring to them as "MLS Studio" games.

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"Games without fans, they're sad, in a way," Bradley said. "But we're also in unprecedented times and so I know that the kind of discussions that lead towards restarting without fans, that's still a way to reconnect, and it will be a challenge for sure."

This isn't the first time that Bradley has experienced a league shutting down. When he was managing Egypt's national team, the country's domestic league was shut down following the Port Said stadium disaster that claimed 74 lives and witnessed over 500 injured. Bradley said that the two situations shared some commonalities.

"When the league shut down in Egypt, for players that was a real uncertainty about what was happening in their teams, what was happening in their careers," he said. "The only thing that was very different is that there was still a World Cup qualifying schedule, and we knew that. A few months later we would begin play.

"Once we got through those initial days after Port Said, we were able to start the setup some camps and find ways to get games. And obviously when we got together and we were able to look at each other and interact.

"That made a huge difference. And so in the moment, the ability to connect with people when you're not actually there with them, it's a greater challenge, but that's what we have right now."

It was during his tenure in Egypt that Bradley also experienced playing an official match without fans. The Pharaohs faced Mozambique in a World Cup qualifier on June 1, 2012 in Alexandria, a game that Egypt won 2-0.

"It was an eerie feeling," Bradley recalled. "I remember when we trained in the stadium, the night before the game, we gathered everybody before we started training and we said, 'Try to look into the stands and imagine that there's 90 million Egyptians here because if they had the chance all of them would be here with us.'

"And all we all know that the connection that we have with our supporters is key."

Bradley expects that LAFC will channel their connection with their fans, as well.

He said: "When we finally get started, we'll look into those things and in our case, we'll see the 3252 and we'll see those people that come every time to the Banc of California [Stadium] and are there with us."

On the call, Bradley was also asked if he would ever consider managing the U.S. men's team again. Bradley was in charge of the U.S. from 2006-11, and led the U.S. into the second round of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. But Bradley responded with a firm "no" and said returning to that post at some point in the future isn't something he thinks about.

"I had my time with the national team, I'm proud of it," Bradley said. "When I left, I was always excited for every new challenge. I fully support Greg [Berhalter]. I'm very proud of what took place during those five years."