LAFC vs St. Louis CITY
Wednesday, July 12 at 7:30pm PT
Location: BMO Stadium - Los Angeles, California
Radio: 710 AM ESPN, ESPN LA App, 980 AM La Mera Mera
After playing to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night against the San Jose Earthquakes, LAFC host St. Louis City SC in a Western Conference showdown at BMO Stadium on Wednesday, July 12.
LAFC forward Dènis Bouanga’s 12th goal of the season leveled the San Jose match after Quakes striker Cristian Espinoza opened the scoring in the 30th minute. The draw helped the Black & Gold snap a three-game losing streak in MLS play. LAFC stands at 9-6-6 on the season and is tied for third in the Western Conference table.
LAFC now squares off against STL City SC for the first time ever. The Black & Gold have won all six of their previous meetings with first-year expansion teams.
STL CITY SC IN-DEPTH
Led by first-year head coach Bradley Carnell, St. Louis is off to a fast start. The Club has stood atop the Western Conference Standings for most of the season and currently sits in first place with 38 points and a 12-7-2 record.
The team comes in riding a three-game win streak, including a 1-0 road win over Toronto FC on Saturday. In the post-shootout era (since 2000) St. Louis is the first MLS expansion team with three different winning streaks of three games or more in its inaugural season.
St. Louis’ 40 total goals rank second in MLS. More impressive, those tallies have come from 13 different scorers. Forward Nicholas Gioacchini is the club’s danger man; he leads the team with eight goals scored in 21 games played.
St. Louis’ greatest strength, however, is its aggressiveness. According to FBREF, St. Louis’ 310 fouls rank third in MLS; its 241 interceptions rank second, and its 260 tackles won are tops in the league. “They have a clear way of playing and they don’t budge,” LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said. “They don’t move an inch left or right.”
THE BLACK & GOLD WILL WIN IF
it can score first. Over LAFC’s last 12 games in all competitions, it has drawn first blood just once. The only game in which LAFC scored the breakthrough goal (against Seattle on June 21) marked one of just two victories it earned in that span. The opening minutes against St. Louis could determine Saturday’s result.
STL CITY SC CAN WIN IF
it can continue playing to its identity. “They stay within their means,” said Cherundolo. “They find ways to disrupt other teams’ play and catch you on the counter and [convert] set pieces. … It’s a style of play that a lot of clubs are turning to. At times it’s not the prettiest but it certainly is effective.”