Los Angeles FC head coach Bob Bradley has been impressed with what Atlanta United has achieved this season as a new MLS franchise, but is adamant the Chicago Fire's feat of capturing the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup in their debut season in 1998 still takes some beating.
Bradley led the Fire to a double in their opening season, whereas Gerardo Martino's Atlanta United broke the MLS attendance record and won plaudits for its style of play, but ultimately went out in the knockout round of the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.
"I was asked earlier about Atlanta's success and I said they'd done very well," Bradley told ESPN FC over the phone last week. "They are exciting, they have dangerous attacking players, but to win the double the first year like we did in Chicago is pretty special.
"What people tend to forget is that both the Galaxy and D.C. United in 1998 were great teams, so it wasn't like this was MLS 1.0."
Bradley added Atlanta's achievements this season represents "a challenge" for LAFC, but again the former U.S. national team coach's reference point appears to be the Fire.
"Every city, every club does it its own way," stated Bradley. "If you go back 20 years, we had a real connection between the Fire and the city of Chicago and I'll never forget what that felt like."
"So when I had discussions here [at LAFC] and go and see what's happening at Banc of California Stadium and the location and I have a chance to get out and be with our supporters, then immediately I think about that feeling of connecting with a city," he added.
Bradley has been busy scouting players to build on the signing of Carlos Vela and make LAFC competitive next season. And he asserts that it is easier to bring players to MLS now compared to when he was doing the same thing with the Fire 20 years ago.
"I do think that the growth of the league means that your ability to go out and attract players has improved," said Bradley. "I see that primarily with the ability to bring some young talent.
"In Chicago, what we did really well was we found some experienced European players like Peter Nowak, Lubos Kubik, Hristo Stoichkov, Roman Kosecki and then combined that with the right Americans, with Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch, Ante Razov and then later Carlos Bocanegra, DaMarcus Beasley and Josh Wolff.
"If you have experience and young talent, that's ideal. I still have that picture in mind."
Bradley believes one of the reasons he was attracted to LAFC was the emphasis the club is putting on youth development, and he hopes that MLS plays the long game in catching up with Liga MX's best clubs.
"When you start talking about Santos Laguna and Pachuca and everything else, the way you reach that level is over time with commitment," said Bradley.
Bradley said the club has "spread out the net everywhere" in recruiting for the upcoming season. And he's calling on his experience outside of the United States to put together what he hopes will be a successful squad.
"I've had experience in Africa, in Europe," Bradley said. "We're trying to build a roster that reflects the diversity of the city and most importantly we're trying to build a good team. When you bring good footballers together and start working, the rest is exciting."