One game does not a season make especially when we are talking about the third week of an awfully long Major League Season. What Saturday’s game between LAFC ( 2-0) and the Seattle Sounders ( 2-0-1) represents is an early test for the current defending champions and a bitter rival seeking redemption.
Both teams play a fast-paced counter-attacking brand of soccer which means a lot of paces with players motoring up and down the field. And did I mention physical? As good as the two teams are when it comes to scoring Jordan Morris ( 3) and LAFC’s Denis Bouanga ( 2) the two sides are about exerting extreme pressure that will cause an opponent turnover. After collecting the turnover it’s route one to the goal.
In last week’s loss to FC Cincinnati, the Sounders were unable to break a congested midfield. Against LAFC the task for the Sounders will be to keep track of a moving and fluid midfield made up of a speedy Kellyn Acosta, a dribbler with precision in Illie Sanchez, and a relentless runner in Timothy Tillman. While Bouanga scored two goals in LAFC’s 4-0 MLS win over New England wingers Kwadwo Opoku and Stipe Biuk he had a goal as well in the game are just as dangerous. Albert Rusnak, Cristian Roldan, and Joao Paulo will need to be active in defense and offense. The Sounders have been working on passing the ball under pressure all week. Saturday will be a good test to see if they mastered the skill.
THE SOUNDERS HAVE A GOOD CHANCE
The Sounders will not be outmatched skill-wise on Saturday. The return of Raul Ruidiaz to the lineup will attract multiple defenders and take the pressure off Morris as the only threat. If the Sounders can get back to playing the ball wide and quickly the will have a good chance of scoring against an LAFC defense that shut out New England but gave up two goals against the Timbers in the previous game. The key for the Sounders will be to play with pace and purpose without rushing.
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After suffering its first loss of the season at FC Cincinnati, Sounders
FC returns home to host reigning MLS Cup champion Los Angeles FC
on Saturday, March 18 on the Emerald Casino Pitch at Lumen Field.
• Despite LAFC joining MLS in 2018, the two sides have already met 12
times in the regular season, with Seattle holding a 3-6-3 record in the
series, including a 3-1-2 mark at Lumen Field.
• The two teams have also faced off twice in the postseason, with
Seattle winning both fixtures. The most notable result was a 3-1 win
at LAFC in the 2019 Western Conference Finals en route to the club’s
second MLS Cup. LAFC also defeated Seattle 4-1 in the MLS is Back
Tournament knockout round.
• LAFC is coming off a 2022 campaign that saw the club win both the
Supporters Shield and MLS Cup after defeating the Philadelphia Union
in a penalty shootout following a game-tying goal by Gareth Bale in the
• Despite losing to FC Cincinnati, Seattle still leads the league in
expected goals (7.41), is tied for first in goal differential (+5) with LAFC
and is tied for third in goals scored (6) this season. Jordan Morris leads
the league with three goals.
• Following the match against LAFC, Seattle hits the road to take on
Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, March 25 at Children’s Mercy Park
(5:30 p.m. PT / Apple TV, iHeart Media, El Rey 160 AM).