LAFC is once again in uncharted territory. Expansion teams in MLS aren't usually still active in the postseason, let alone host a playoff match.
On Thursday, LAFC and Real Salt Lake will play with the knowledge that the loser's season is over. The first round of the MLS Cup playoffs leaves little room for error. Both teams will be acutely aware of what's at stake.
Here's a look at the first playoff match in Club history, a knockout round contest between LAFC and Real Salt Lake:
Where To Watch/Listen
2018 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs: LAFC vs Real Salt Lake, November 1 at 7:30pm PT
TV: ESPN2, UniMás
Radio: ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980
Real Salt Lake thought their season was over. A 3-0 loss to Portland in the second to last weekend of the season meant all RSL could do was sit and pray or a lifeline. That lifeline appeared in the form of the Houston Dynamo. On the final day of the season, the Dynamo came from behind to defeat the Galaxy 3-2, qualifying RSL for the MLS Cup playoffs as the sixth seed.
What The Players Are Saying
Steven Beitashour on educating the players that haven't been in the playoffs: "There's a handful of us that have playoff experience and we try to explain it to the guys that it's a different beast and everything is on the line. There's no guarantee of the next day. I think guys are starting to understand that and the intensity is starting to pick up. Hopefully, tomorrow guys give everything they have and we'll have another day to fight."
Lee Nguyen on how the playoffs are different than the regular season: "It's all in the little details. That's what we're focused on leading up to this game. It's fine-tuning. We'll be ready."
Carlos Vela on his team's mindset heading into tomorrow: "Everybody is really excited. Everybody is ready to win tomorrow. Play our football, it's the only way to win."
LAFC Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Walker Zimmerman, Danilo Silva, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Benny Feilhaber, Lee Nguyen; Diego Rossi, Adama Diomande, Carlos Vela.
What To Watch For
It's About To Get Loud: If you've ever been to Banc of California Stadium, then you know. For those of you that haven't, be prepared. Through 17 matches this season, the atmosphere at the Banc has been electric week in and week out. With their team's playoff lives on the line, expect non-stop support from the first whistle and beyond on Thursday.
Big Game Vela: The LAFC captain is no stranger to big matches. Thursday will be his first in the MLS playoffs, but the veteran of World Cups and Champions League matches knows what it takes to seize the moment. LAFC will look to their leading scorer this season to be the catalyst in attack. If LAFC can work their way up the pitch and find Vela moving towards the RSL goal, they should be in good shape.
Seizing The Moment: For some players, the moment is too big. The pressure and attention to every play can paralyze in the playoffs. But these are the moments players live for. The chance to compete, to put your play on the line, and to move on for a chance at a trophy is why they've reached the highest levels. If you're not pumped, check your pulse.