The East Coast excursion continues for LAFC on Saturday.
An undermanned Black & Gold squad had to settle for just a point in Orlando last week. But that point was enough to see LAFC clinch the Western Conference's top spot thanks to Minnesota's loss in midweek. And with that, eyes have turned to LAFC's next goal: the Supporters' Shield
The squad remained on the other side of the country to prepare for a much anticipated East vs. West clash with the Philadelphia Union. Two weeks ago, Union forward Kacper Przybyłko called out LAFC, saying his team was ready and waiting to face the Black & Gold. In 10 matches against Eastern Conference opponents this season, LAFC has seven wins, three draws, and zero defeats.
As the league leaders from the start, LAFC is no stranger to teams giving their best when they're in town. Considering the Black & Gold's record against the East, Przybyłko might be poking the wrong bear. Not to mention, the conclusion of the international window means reinforcements to LAFC's squad have arrived.
LAFC at Philadelphia Union | Sept. 14 at 4:30pm PT
Where To Watch
TV: YouTube TV, KVMD
Radio: ESPNLA 710, KFWB 980
Official LAFC Watch Party: The Down & Out
The Philadelphia Union come into this match well-rested and in good form. Jim Curtain's team toppled Atlanta United last time out 3-1. The Union has had two weeks off from MLS play since but defeated Liga MX side Pumas 3-0 in a friendly last weekend. Philadelphia currently sits second in the Eastern Conference and has already secured a spot in the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. A win would keep them hot on the trail of NYCFC for the conference's top spot.
What The Team Is Saying
Bob Bradley on Przybyłko's calling out of LAFC: "We know that after Philadelphia beat Atlanta two weeks ago, they started talking about the big game coming up with LAFC. A lot has been said and we don't typically go crazy with bulletin-board material but I think it says a lot. It's going to be a really good game. We're hearing it's a sellout. At the end of the year, we want to finish as strong as we can. So, a really important game against a good team."
Tyler Miller on the return of LAFC's internationals: "It's huge for us to get them back, have them in training and really feel that team camaraderie as we go into this final stretch. It's an important boost for us. We're looking forward to these next couple of days of training and then getting ready for a big game against the Union."
LAFC Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3): Tyler Miller; Jordan Harvey, Eddie Segura, Walker Zimmerman, Steven Beitashour; Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing; Brian Rodríguez, Adama Diomande, Diego Rossi.
What To Watch For
Break's Over: What was an international break for some teams in MLS was just another day at the office for LAFC. Despite being down a handful of starters, LAFC managed to rescue a point in a difficult match at Orlando City. Despite missing numerous players, the Black & Gold looked cohesive and brought the match to an Orlando side in need of points to rescue their season. It was another encouraging sign of the depth of a squad that looked very comfortable carrying out LAFC's style of play even with a heavily rotated squad. Now with the international window over, LAFC returns all seven of its players that were away with national teams. Bob Bradley has already said the coaching staff has to first assess the players before throwing them back into the squad but expect quite a few to be back in the starting line-up against Philadelphia.
Vela Making Strides: Carlos Vela sat out LAFC's previous two matches with a hamstring injury. The MVP in waiting spent the last two weeks rehabbing the injury in individual workouts and didn't travel with the team to Orlando. Vela rejoined the squad in Philadelphia on Monday and has been back in training with the team. It's an important step towards his recovery and could see him feature in this match. He is still a game-time decision, but don't be surprised if he's in the 18 for this one.
Trophy On The Horizon: After clinching home-field advantage by way of the Western Conference's top spot, LAFC has its sights set on the first trophy in Club history. The Black & Gold can lift the Supporters' Shield as early as this weekend. The scenario would have to play out like this: LAFC wins the Supporters' Shield IF they win against the Union AND NYCFC losses to San Jose AND Atlanta lose or draw against Columbus.