LAFC at Seattle Sounders FC
MLS 2021 Season - Match Five
Sunday, May 16, 2021
6:30 p.m. PT
TV: FS1, FOX Deportes
RADIO: ESPN LA 1110 AM, ESPN App (Audio), KFWB 980 AM
Although LAFC controlled most of its last match against the crosstown rival Galaxy, the 2-1 was a bitter pill to swallow for the first loss of the season. Last year’s MLS Golden Boot winner, Diego Rossi, registered his first goal of the young 2021 MLS season, but LAFC could not muster more after falling behind on goals by Chicharito (11’) and Jonathan Dos Santos, who sealed the win in the 79th minute. Despite the loss, there were positives to pull from for the Black & Gold.
“We looked hard at the game against the Galaxy. We saw positives, especially until we scored the equalizer,” said LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley. “But I don't think we did a good enough job of using that momentum in trying to finish the game. We put ourselves behind in a careless moment. And then we were pretty disappointed with ourselves with how we played after we went behind.”
Up next, the Club faces league-leading Seattle Sounders FC who remains undefeated on the season. It is only LAFC’s fifth match, but it will be the second time the Club faces the Western Conference-rival Sounders, who have been surging since the teams played to a 1-1 draw on April 24.
Seattle is currently leading the league in points per game (2.6), goals for (11), goals allowed (2) and goal-differential (+9), as LAFC is just one of two teams that have scored against them this year. The Sounders will be on short rest and potentially shorthanded after their midweek 1-0 victory over San Jose saw defender Jordy Dellem and veteran goalkeeper Stefan Frei both have to leave the pitch as a result of injuries.
Hopefully for LAFC, Diego Rossi is beginning to hit his stride after getting some more minutes with the squad and tallying his first goal after an early-season injury hampered him in the first two games. Carlos Vela is also on the mend and may feature for the first time since he left game one with a quad strain.
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It’s been less than a month since the Club last faced the Sounders, so there will surely be no surprises here. Seattle is a strong, veteran, team that is both good with possession on the counterattack and arguably stronger defensively. Even with the potential of missing Frei and Dellem, it won’t shake the club that still has performed at the highest level without one of their leaders in Nicolas Lodeiro.
SHARPENIING IT UP
LAFC has had its toughest start in Club history through their first four matches this year, and though they only have one in the loss column, have tallied just five points thus far pitting them 11th in the Western Conference standings. One can point to the early absences of stars like Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi who have had early bouts with injuries, but the opportunities have been there.
“Certainly, our ability with advantages have to be sharper,” said Bradley. “That is an area where, so far, we haven't done our best, but that's something that we work on every day, no matter what's going on in the season.”
Mark-Anthony Kaye is currently tied for the league-lead in through-balls with three, and Eduard Atuesta ranks third in the league for passes into the final third, so look for more goal scoring as the front line sharpens up.
LAFC WILL WIN IF
The Club can turn the advantages they are creating in the final third into opportunities in the box. Also, having Carlos Vela play meaningful minutes will surely help, and these two points go hand-in-hand.
“He is the franchise player and our leader,” LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta added in his pre-match media availability. “It becomes more difficult to get the team into a rhythm without all our players, and Carlos is our most important player.”
José Cifuentes has had a solid week of training so keep an eye out for him potentially logging major minutes and making a difference in the match.
SEATTLE CAN WIN IF
If they can score an extra goal on a set piece. The Sounders have been incredibly dangerous on the attack this season, and if they can get a goal on a set piece, it will be tough for LAFC to take this one.