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Sounders vs LAFC: Three questions

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Alicia from Angels on Parade and I have a chat about the match this Sunday

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Sounder at Heart: Carlos Vela is really, really good at soccer. Everyone knows this. But, who else is playing well for LAFC at the moment? Any unsung heroes on the team?

Angels on Parade: I’d say pretty much all the regular starters are playing great this year. The new starter brought in, Eddie Segura, has helped settle the defense and he’s been a rock. His Colombian compatriot, midfielder Eduard Atuesta, seems to have jumped up a level this season. Latif Blessing has been surprisingly versatile and settled in to a new midfield role. Mark-Anthony Kaye has recovered from a broken ankle and also seems to have taken a step up. Even the veteran fullbacks, Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour, showed just how important they are on Wednesday by sitting out that match, as the defense lacked composure with them out.

SAH: Bob Bradley rotated most of the backline on Wednesday, but no one in the attack. Is that indicative of a lack of depth, an unwillingness to use depth, or just proof for why he’s not testing it more?

AOP: I think if they were fully healthy, there would be more depth in attack, but forwards Adama Diomande and Rodolfo Zelaya are both hurt and if the full group were available in midfield Blessing could probably move right back up to his usual wide forward spot. Given the available options, yes, there is a big drop-off between Diego Rossi, Carlos Vela, Christian Ramirez and the remaining attacking corps at the moment, so keeping the stars in against Vancouver wasn’t a surprise.

At the same time, I think Bradley rolled the dice a bit on Wednesday, and asked his reserves who played to step up, and they didn’t really rise to the occasion. Again, injuries are playing a role, but the main group of 14 players or so is certainly one of the best in MLS right now. The rest of the roster? Initial returns are that those players may not be as ready for primetime, which frankly is pretty standard in MLS.

SAH: Even after the loss to Vancouver on Wednesday, I still think LAFC is a top-tier MLS team. Maybe even the best. What, if anything, is LAFC not good at? Does the team have any weaknesses?

AOP: As I just mentioned, I think if the team goes beyond the first 14 or 15 players, there’s a drop-off, and while the midfield has turned over pretty often so far this season and regrouped in impressive fashion, the defense and attack don’t seem to have the same ability to plug in new options.

Beyond that, LAFC haven’t dealt with a multi-goal deficit yet this year. Prior to the Vancouver loss, they had come back from a deficit a few times. So there are some game states they haven’t yet encountered this year, and we’ll see how they deal when they face those.

(When the reverse questions are posted, we will link to them here.)