What a difference a year makes.
Well, a year and four days to be exact. This time in 2018, LAFC was coming off its first midweek match of the season. The opponent of that midweek match in 2018? The same Vancouver Whitecaps that LAFC will face on Wednesday.
However, last season heading into that first midweek test, LAFC was reeling a bit. After two wins to start the year, the Black & Gold fell to the Galaxy and Atlanta United in quick succession - that 5-0 loss in Atlanta was definitely a low point.
Thus far in 2019, it's been a different story.
LAFC is off to the third-best start in MLS history. Seven matches into the season, LAFC has earned 19 points and remains unbeaten. The team's 19 goals in its first six matches set a new all-time mark in terms of scoring to start the season.
While the circumstances may be different a year later, the drive for three points remains anytime LAFC step on the pitch. Let's take a look at LAFC's trip to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday:
Where To Watch
LAFC at Vancouver Whitecaps, April 17 at 7:00pm PT
TV: YouTube TV, KVMD
Radio: ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980
LAFC Watch Party: The Stalking Horse
After leaving his role as an assistant in Bob Bradley's staff at LAFC, Marc Dos Santos immediately assessed his new role as head coach at the Vancouver Whitecaps as his toughest challenge to date. Thus far, the Whitecaps have had a rough go of it this season, losing four of six matches to start 2019. With Dos Santos having to bring in new players and introduce a new mentality and style of play in a short period of time, Vancouver's struggles are not surprising but they still remain in search of the first victory of 2019.
What The Team Is Saying
Jordan Harvey on facing Vancouver in the midst of the 'Caps early season troubles: "They've been building throughout the first period of this season. I think they finally have all their players in for choice. And depending on that lineup, I think it will be a tough game. They're winless but I think they are going to be gunning for us at home."
Bob Bradley on former assistant Marc Dos Santos taking over Vancouver: "Marc is an excellent coach and a great guy. We enjoyed our chance to get to know him and work with him. And we all have confidence in his work. Obviously, the start of the season has been difficult. But he's been through tough situations when he's coached at different teams. So, I have confidences that he'll continue to push to get it right."
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
First Test In Midweek: As noted above, a trip to Vancouver was LAFC's first test in midweek last season. In that match, LAFC controlled proceedings and left with a comfortable 2-0 win. Expectations are a bit higher this year, as LAFC is unbeaten through seven matches. With a match against fellow unbeaten Seattle Sounders just four days later, it will be interesting to see how Bob Bradley and his staff manage minutes and rotations this week. Being that it's the first time the side has had to play midweek, and they won't have to do it again the following week, rotation isn't necessarily paramount but with the depth LAFC has shown thus far this season, it might be a good time to get starts for a few players that have been training well.
Vela's Hot Start: The MLS Player of the Month for March isn't slowing down in April. Carlos Vela has goals in three consecutive matches. He leads the league in both scoring and assists through seven matches. Even more impressive this season has been Vela's goals per 90 average. Through 619 minutes players this season, Vela is averaging 1.16 goals per 90 minutes.
Matching Up Against An Old Friend: During his dealings with the media this week, Bob Bradley spoke highly of former assistant Marc Dos Santos. The LAFC head coach mentioned that the two speak regularly still and was confident Dos Santos would turn things around in Vancouver. Of course, Bradley is hoping that doesn't start with a win over LAFC. Despite Dos Santos being very familiar with the way LAFC trains and prepares for matches, Bradley pointed out that his team is not a one-trick pony. Much of what LAFC does in matches fit a style of play but included in that style is a myriad of decisions in moments that make LAFC difficult to defend. It will be interesting to see what Dos Santos has in store for his old side. But familiarity won't necessarily breed success once the opening whistle blows.