Preview: LAFC travel to Seattle for another Western Conference clash

Seattle Sounders LAFC

Los Angeles, California (April 25, 2019) — With a quarter of the season already behind us, things in the MLS are taking shape. Teams like Toronto FC, LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC have begun to separate themselves. The defending champions are in the midst of a post-title slump. Meanwhile, the early favorites for league MVP have been putting on a show week after week.

LAFC travel to Seattle for another Western Conference clash

For the Los Angeles Football Club, this season has been about one thing: the MLS Cup. Everyone from the executives in the suites to the players on the pitch have no problem stating so. They have reason too, as they have solidified themselves as the early favorites for the cup.

While the start of 2019 was all about exacting revenge, they face a team ready for revenge of their own. Seattle is having a rough week as they lost big to LAFC this past weekend, then suffered a poor performance in a 2-2 draw with San Jose midweek. Sitting only five points back, the Sounders will be motivated and hungry to secure the three points at home.

Run it back

For a budding rivalry, things are already getting to be one sided in favor of the Black and Gold. The two 2018 matches were decided by a single goal. However, the first match in 2019 was a display in domination with LAFC side netting four past Stefan Frei. Even with a diminished squad, the Sounders will have the opportunity many teams hope for after a big loss — a chance at immediate redemption.

Beyond their depth

Having played with a slightly rotated squad the last time these two met, things only seemed to have gotten worse for the Sounders. Several players for Seattle, including midfielder Gustav Svensson and defenderr Nouhou, left Wednesday’s match with injury.

In addition, with an already injured Raúl Ruidíaz and Will Bruin, the chances for Seattle to remain unbeaten at home have drastically decreased. Chances are the squad will feature a handful of changes, and with the league’s best attack coming to town things continue to look gloomy on the Puget Sound.

Attack from all angles

With a league high 25 goals, it would be an understatement to call the LAFC attack potent. Often times they seem to resemble a hot knife through a buttery defense to goal after goal. The last match against Seattle was no different as Los Angeles found plenty of space to attack. Thirty-eight percent of LAFC’s attack went through Diego Rossi and the left side, while the middle of the pitch was used 34 percent of the time.

Rossi has joined Carlos Vela in the purple patch and will look to attack an even more diminished defense. LAFC fans may get a surprise of their own in the form of striker Fito Zelaya. The El Salvadorian signed with LAFC before the season and fans have anxiously awaited his debut. While no official word has been released, the feeling is that he is ready physically to take the pitch and could see action as a sub this Sunday.

Keys to the game

For the Seattle Sounders, this will be a difficult mountain to scale. Even with a fully fit squad containing the LAFC attack would be a tough ask. The ease at which San Jose attacked the defense will be worrying. There will be adjustments in order from Brian Schmetzerr. Withstanding the initial onslaught will be critical for Seattle as LAFC have shown they can be near impossible to stop.

For LAFC, there isn’t much in the way of keys. The fact is that they are healthy, focused and even on a bad day, they only give up one goal. All LAFC need to do is play their game. If they can continue to exploit the wings, feed balls into the box and give Vela space to create, there is nobody in the league that can slow them down — especially not a battered Seattle side.

PHOTO: The Seattle Sounders FC and Los Angeles FC will face off one week after LAFC rolled past Seattle, 4-1. This time, the match is at CenturyLink Field. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders FC.