For the fourth time this year, the Seattle Sounders will play Los Angeles FC. For the first time this year, they’ll play them at Banc of California Stadium.
The Sounders come into the match riding a three-game winning streak and having won 5 of 6 to surge into first place of the Western Conference. LAFC had their midweek game against the Colorado Rapids postponed and will be on full rest looking to win consecutive games for the first time in 2020.
Here’s what we’ll be looking for:
The Sounders have managed fixture congestion about as well as anyone, largely due to Brian Schmetzer’s ability to keep a tight rotation. With four potential starters already confirmed out, the team’s depth will again be tested. Schmetzer will likely need to give another starter or two the day off, but can hopefully put off the need for further rotation until the potential midweek game against the Colorado Rapids. Kelvin Leerdam is probably the top candidate to move to the bench, which is made easier by Alex Roldan’s solid performances. This will be his biggest test.
Get Will Bruin’
Will Bruin didn’t look happy to come off in the 65th minute against RSL, but it was likely in order to preserve his legs for this game. Bruin has not gotten on the scoresheet since scoring in his 2020 debut — against LAFC in the MLS is Back Tournament — but has contributed in plenty of other ways. If the Sounders are to maintain pace in the Supporters’ Shield race, however, they’re going to need more for the big guy. Now’s a good time to get him back into the scoring habit.
Hit LAFC while they’re down
No team’s struggles have been more surprising this year than LAFC, who haven’t even managed to collect points in consecutive matches since July. Injuries are a big reason why, and their situation isn’t looking any better this week. In addition to miss Carlos Vela (knee), LAFC are also without four other starters due to international duty. Most notably, that list includes Golden Boot leader Diego Rossi. When LAFC are fully fit, they’re still as talented as anyone in MLS, but that only underscores the importance of collecting points from them while they’re down ... and they’re definitely down right now.
Keep pace with Toronto FC
Talk of contending for the Supporters’ Shield has picked up steam over the last week or so, with good reason. The Sounders are only four points behind Toronto FC with a game in hand and the likely tiebreaker (goal-difference). With TFC playing FC Cincinnati, the Sounders surely need to collect points in order to keep pace. In a normal season, one week’s results wouldn’t be quite so important, but this is no normal season.
Get Nouhou back on the horse
It’s never boring with Nouhou, is it? What was made to be a routine victory over Real Salt Lake was made a bit more complicated because of Nouhou’s own goal in the second half. Mistakes happen and it was definitely an awkward situation. He’s had excellent games in the past against LAFC and tomorrow shouldn’t be any different. Who knows, maybe Nouhou will finally score a real goal.