Preview: ElSounders and LAFC will fight for a battle to the top

Seattle Sounders FC Sounders and LAFC
PHOTO: Will Bruin celebrates his goal with his Seattle Sounders FC teammates during last weekend's victory over Toronto FC. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Wasson/Seattle Sounders FC.

Los Angeles, California (April 19, 2019) — Rivalries are part of every sport. Every team in Major League Soccer has their big, main rivalry, but there are other some surrounding the schedule, too.

For the Seattle Sounders FC, their main rivals are the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps. It’s all about the Cascadia Cup between the three clubs and defending the territory. Meanwhile, Los Angeles FC was born last year and immediately picked up a rivalry, the LA Galaxy. Their rivalry was called “El Tráfico.”

Preview: Sounders and LAFC will fight for a battle to the top

If you live in Los Angeles, the name shouldn’t be shocking for you. However, what might come at a surprise is the new-found rivalry between LAFC and the Sounders. Last season, the two sides met up and LAFC made their first-ever MLS appearance against the Sounders. They’re constantly battling for dominance in the Western Conference. While the rivalry doesn’t have a name set in stone, there’s no doubt that there’s passion from the players.

This year, the passion will be turned up a notch. This past Wednesday, LAFC was known as an undefeated club in MLS, until the Vancouver Whitecaps ruined their streak, giving LAFC their first loss of the year. Now, the Sounders and the Houston Dynamo are the only two undefeated MLS clubs standing.

With two matches against LAFC in the span of eight days, could that change?

Los Angeles FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC
2019 MLS Regular Season
CenturyLink Field
April 21, 2019 — 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET
Stream: ESPN+

What to Watch For

Defense vs. Defense

This match has offensive prowess written all over it. With excellent attackers like Raúl Ruidíaz — even if he’s not able to go, Will Bruin has done an excellent job up top — and Nicolás Lodeiro for the Sounders, the LAFC defense will be busy. However, that’s not to say the Sounders won’t be busy.

Chad Marshall, Kim Kee-hee and the defense will have their hands full with containing Carlos Vela. The captain, and LAFC’s first-ever signing, has produced a fantastic start to the season. Vela has scored eight goals in eight matches, while also providing five assists. Defenses around the league are having a hard time keeping the Mexican international contained.

While the match might be focused around the offenses, don’t forget about the defense. In Seattle’s second year with the centerback pairing of Marshall and Kim, Seattle has only given up five goals in six matches.

Meanwhile, Stefan Frei will be facing off against his former student, Tyler Miller.

Both goalkeepers have provided some beautiful saves this season, as well as some game-saving saves. Miller has no problem showing off what he’s learned under Frei. Seeing if the student prevails over the teacher is another great storyline for this match.

The Injury Report

Seattle Sounders FC

Ruidíaz has missed the last two matches with right heel contusion. Many thought he would be fit for last week’s potential mid-week match against the Colorado Rapids. Ruidíaz traveled with the team to Denver, but didn’t compete because the match was postponed to September due to weather.

He’s still listed as questionable with the same heel issue.

Los Angeles FC

Adama Diomande has scored two goals in six matches this season for LAFC. However, he’s out this Sunday with a hamstring injury. Joining Diomande in the stands will be Andre Horta, as the midfield is out with a right quad strain.

Meanwhile, Lee Nguyen is looking to return from a right soleus strain. Nguyen has only featured in two matches this season and is listed as questionable. Also listed as questionable are forward Rodolfo Zelaya with a right soleus injury and midfielder Alejandro Guido with a right quad strain.

Last Meeting: April 29, 2018

Last season, the Sounders and LAFC met up early in the season.

In both matches, LAFC claimed the 1-0 victory. LAFC began their MLS journey with a victory over the Sounders at CenturyLink Field on March 4. The match was off to a rough start when Tony Alfaro was given a red card in the 83rd minute. However, by that time, LAFC already had their first-ever MLS goal scored by Diego Rossi.

Meanwhile, in April, LAFC saw Laurent Ciman score in the 93rd minute, during second-half stoppage time, to scoop up three points at home.

Prediction: Seattle 2, LAFC 1

This one is going to be good.

It’s a prime viewing, with the match airing on Fox Sports 1. With the power-house attack options that both teams have and the defense structure both teams show, it’ll be a great contest. Right now, after their loss to Vancouver, LAFC is certainly on the road to wanting a victory. However, I don’t believe they will get that with the Sounders.

It’ll be close, but I believe that Seattle’s yearning for revenge from two losses last year is going to come out on top. The Sounders will remain undefeated with a victory.

PHOTO: Will Bruin celebrates his goal with his Seattle Sounders FC teammates during last weekend’s victory over Toronto FC. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Wasson/Seattle Sounders FC.


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