The road to LAFC's first piece of silverware runs through Banc of California Stadium, as the Black & Gold host the San Jose Earthquakes in a U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match on Thursday.
After a 3-0 victory over Real Salt Lake in Utah in the fourth round, LAFC drew its NorCal rival with a chance to once again host an Open Cup quarterfinal. Matias Almeyda's team is unbeaten in its last five matches in all competitions and has been trending upwards ever since LAFC handed them a 5-0 home loss.
The Black & Gold are perfect in three matches against the Earthquakes in Club history. But all that doesn't matter in the country's oldest knockout competition. It's win or go home on Thursday.
Here's a preview of LAFC's Open Cup Round of 16 matchup with the San Jose Earthquakes:
U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 | LAFC vs San Jose Earthquakes, June 20 at 7:30pm PT
Where To Watch
TV: Streaming on ESPN+
Radio: Streaming on the ESPNLA radio app
The Earthquakes rode out a nervy 4-3 win over USL's Sacramento Republic FC in the Open Cup fourth round. Behind on two separate occasions in the match, SJ took a 4-2 lead deep into stoppage time before a late Republic goal made things interesting. Matias Almeyda's team started the MLS season with four-straight losses but has not been beaten since May 11.
What The Team Is Saying
Tristan Blackmon on the team's mentality going into Thursday's match: "We're putting all of our marbles into this game. We want to make a huge impact right away, go after them, create advantages, and win this game to keep pushing our momentum for the Cup."
Bob Bradley on LAFC's commitment to the Open Cup: "At the end of the day, we've got to have a way to win some trophies. This year, it's a big part of what we're shooting for."
LAFC Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3): Pablo Sisniega; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Danilo Silva, Tristan Blackmon; Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing, Lee Nguyen; Diego Rossi, Christian Ramirez, Carlos Vela.
What To Watch For
Red-Hot Wondo: After breaking the all-time MLS goals record with a four-spot against the Chicago Fire, Chris Wondolowski has shown any signs of stopping. The striker has eight goals in his last four matches, during which the Earthquakes are unbeaten. He failed to score against Sacramento in SJ's fourth-round victory and was held to just one shot. But there are few strikers in the league hotter than Wondo right now. Expect, maybe...
Carlos Vela vs Everyone: There's almost no stopping Carlos Vela in 2019. He scored in each of his last six matches in all competitions and has five assists to boot. Vela opened the scoring for LAFC at RSL in the fourth round, a goal with eventually proved to be the game-winner thanks to some strong goalkeeping and defensive work on the night. The last time Vela faced the Quakes, he dropped a hat trick in San Jose. Would anyone bet against a repeat performance with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line?
Home Sweet Home: In 2018, LAFC played three of its four Open Cup matches at home. They were undefeated in those home matches. The team's only loss in the competition came in Houston - even that loss wasn't in regulation, LAFC fell in penalties to the Dynamo. In MLS play, LAFC is 7-0-1 at home in 2019. Banc of California Stadium has become a fortress for LAFC this season. With a place in the quarterfinal on the line - a match that would be hosted at the Banc for the second year in a row - you'd expect the Black & Gold to defend its home ground.