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Scouting Report: West’s best battle in LA on Easter Sunday

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The Sounders will look to show LAFC who the better team is on Easter Sunday.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

What You’ll Watch

The Seattle Sounders hit the road and head south to take on the Los Angeles Football Club. LAFC and the Sounders are the top two teams in the West and in the Supporters’ Shield race. This will be the first of two meetings this season, with the second just a week later in Seattle.

Seattle remains in second place in the Western Conference with a record of 5-0-1 (16 points in six games played; 2.67 ppg) and LAFC sit atop the West with a record of 6-1-1 (19 points in eight games played; 2.38 ppg). Last time out, the Sounders defeated Toronto 3-2 at home, and LAFC lost on Wednesday 1-0 to Vancouver on the road.

This is the third all-time meeting between these clubs and Seattle is looking for their first points against LAFC. Seattle has zero goals and has conceded two in the two previous contests.

A Tale of the Tape

Seattle

Leading Goal Scorer: Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz, three goals each

Assist Leader: Nicolas Lodeiro, four assists

LAFC

Leading Goal Scorer: Carlos Vela, eight goals

Assist Leader: Vela, five assists

Match Officials

REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo

AR1: Mike Rottersman

AR2: Ian Anderson

4th: Tim Ford

VAR: Alex Chilowicz

AVAR: Cameron Blanchard

What to Watch

  • Their somewhat shocking loss at Vancouver aside, LAFC have been downright scary all season. They had scored at least two goals in each of their seven previous matches and were riding a four-match winning streak in which they had outscored their opponents 13-1. Even after their loss, they still have a +15 goal-difference, which is six goals better than anyone else in the league. The advanced metrics are big fans too, with FiveThirtyEight.com pegging them as the league’s best team and giving them a 56 percent chance at winning on Sunday. American Soccer Analysis has them at +8.1 xGD, which is nearly twice as good as any other team.
  • What they’re doing better than anyone else is playing to their strengths, and that means getting the ball on Carlos Vela’s foot and letting him do magic. Vela has already piled up eight goals and five assists and appears well on his way to setting all sorts of MLS records. His favorite avenue for attack is cutting in off the right wing and setting up that beautiful left-footed shot, but he’s perfectly happy to drift around the park.
  • On the other wing, Diego Rossi has picked up right where he left off last year and already has six goals. Rossi’s not as polished as Vela, but the 21-year-old flashes some impressive speed and is a constant threat.
  • If there’s a weak point in the attack, it might be at center forward where Christian Ramirez is filling in for the injured Adama Diomande. Ramirez is a very talented attacker, but he also has a tendency to disappear. Ramirez was held to just 11 touches and no shots before being pulled from the Whitecaps match in the 64th minute.
  • The Sounders’ best defense may turn out to be a good offense. If they can continue to press their fullbacks into the attack, that will force Rossi and Vela to defend more than they’ve needed to most of the year, and LAFC does have some weaknesses despite the gaudy goal-difference. Latif Blessing could be out after suffering a should injury on Wednesday and the Sounders should have a midfield advantage.

How to Watch

Date/Time: Sunday, April 21 @ 4:00 PM

Location: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, CA

TV: FOX Sports 1

Streaming: YouTube TV

Radio: 950 KJR AM (English), El Rey 1360AM (Spanish)