For the first time, I get to write the preview so many others put out about LAFC last season. Because for the first time in Club history, the Black & Gold welcome an opponent with fewer MLS seasons under their belt.
MLS debutants FC Cincinnati visit Banc of California Stadium on Saturday. It is the first time LAFC will face a team in its expansion season.
After two matches on the road, LAFC returns home having outscored opponents 11-0 over the last 235 minutes in MLS play. A 5-0 victory in San Jose was followed up with a resounding 4-0 defeat to then Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United last week. And the accolades continue to pour in with Carlos Vela named the MLS Player of the Month for March and Diego Rossi named Player of the Week after his hat trick in DC.
LAFC's opponents are getting plaudits of their own though. FC Cincinnati has outperformed preseason expectations thus far with a 2-2-2 record. Alan Koch's side has put in true team performances to start their inaugural season - all eight of the team's goals have come from different goalscorers. Defensively, FC Cincinnati challenges opponents to break them down with the threat of speedy counterattacks from Darren Mattocks, Roland Lamah, and Kekuta Manneh in the backs of the opposition's minds.
We're getting ready for another first at Banc of California Stadium this weekend. Let's take a closer look at LAFC's match with FC Cincinnati:
Where To Watch
LAFC vs FC Cincinnati, April 13 at 7:30pm PT
TV: YouTube TV (programming starts at 5:00pm with "LAFC in 30"), KVMD
Radio: ESPNLA 710, KFWB 908
FC Cincinnati earned a point against Sporting KC last week. And they probably should feel they deserved more after leading for much of the match. Darren Mattocks finished from the spot to open his 2019 goalscoring account. After being downed 4-1 by Seattle in its opening match, FC Cincinnati is showing its ability to keep teams at bay, having averaged less than a goal against in its last five matches.
What The Team Is Saying
Tyler Miller on how excited for a home match after two on the road: "We've always played better at home. We have a very challenging stadium to play in for a lot of teams. For us, it's extra motivation from all of our supporters and the 3252 behind us there."
Bob Bradley on the difficulties FC Cincinnati presents to opposing sides: "Without a doubt, FC Cincinnati is athletic and very good on the counter. At times, they'll play in a low block and then you'll have the challenge of dealing with the speed of Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh. We understand that. But I think the way we defend is still to step up and we make it difficult for teams to get behind us."
LAFC Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.
What To Watch For
Offense Keeps Rolling: Through six matches, LAFC has 19 goals. In terms of the record books, that is tops all-time in MLS to start a season. In the last two away matches, LAFC combined for nine goals. As they return to Banc of California Stadium, will the offense continue to roll against an FC Cincinnati side that has been quick stingy following the first match of the season?
Vela And Rossi On Fire: Speaking of goals, you won't find two players hotter in MLS than teammates Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. The pair combined for the first back-to-back hat tricks in consecutive matches away from home in MLS history and both are coming off individual accolades (Player of the Month for Vela and Player of the Week for Rossi). Through six matches, no other MLS team has more goals than Vela and Rossi combined.
Sit Back Or Play: It will be interesting to see how FC Cincinnati approaches this match. With all the offensive stats mentioned above, do they come to Banc of California Stadium and attempt to stifle LAFC? Or will they try to give the Black & Gold a game? My money would be on a more cautious approach. But don't discount FCC. We've seen them surprise some formidable opponents. And with the likes of Darren Mattocks looking to get behind on the break, LAFC needs to be diligent in how they attack Cincinnati.