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Do Sounders have a genuine rivalry with LAFC?

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This year at least, Yeimar Gomez Andrade seems to think that’s the Sounders’ most intense matchup.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Preparing to face Los Angeles FC for the fourth time this season, we decided to ask Seattle’s newest defensive enforcer who was the team he was inclined to categorize as the biggest rivalry.

Despite only having 13 league games under his belt, “El Tanque” has played about half of those games against rivals, giving him a sample substantial enough to know how these grudge matches are played.

“I come from a league where players live to be part of rivalry games which are historic,” he said. “In Argentina there are a ton, I’ve played many and believe me, how you play those games simply set you apart.

“From the anticipation to the preparation to the atmosphere that surround these games down there, you know how important those face offs are, even if you just got off the bus and it was your first day.”

Considering his level of experience on the matter, it was surprising that although he has faced the Timbers three times and knowing the history behind the Portland rivalry, Yeimar did not hesitate to call the LAFC matches more like a “clasico.” Part of that, he acknowledged, is that hiss experience has been missing a key component of what makes a true derby.

“Unfortunately I did not get the full experience of playing both derbies,” he said. “Fans are just too important in that type of game but for now, I’ve felt LAFC as the greater rivalry when it comes to intensity on the field.”

In Yeimar’s two starts against LAFC, Sounders won both encounters and managed to only concede one goal. The Colombian centerback provides strength and speed along with a leadership presence which has certainly played a crucial role on both match-ups. Regardless of LAFC’s deficiencies on the defensive end this season, their offense always comes with extremely quality attackers and that is one aspect which has left a big mark on Yeimar’s point of view.

“LAFC has great forwards, they have very dynamic players and I’ve felt those duels on the field at another level, felt emotions raise as we fight for every ball,” Yeimar said. He went on to say that out of all the players he had to defend during all the derbies, Bradley Wright-Phillips was the toughest matchup, as he highlighted the forward’s movements off the ball and physical strength.

Nonetheless, that was far from the only reason why the former Union de Santa Fe man felt this new rivalry was greater than the traditional one with the Timbers. Turns out watching LAFC eliminate the Sounders from the MLS is Back Tournament as he was sidelined by an injury left a rather long-lasting resentment on Yeimar’s mind.

“Watching them eliminate us from the Orlando Tournament was infuriating,” he said. “It was painful to watch my teammates lose while there was nothing I could do. hat really stuck with me.

“For the most part, that is why I get so fired up about facing LAFC and why I was so satisfied when we beat them here. It felt like we got our revenge from a game we were missing several guys. We’ve won the last two against them and I’ll do everything I can to help us win the next one.”

The Sounders play Banc of California today and on paper, things are shaping out to go Yeimar’s way. LAFC will be without their top scorer Rossi and without one of their best attackers in Brian Rodriguez who have already joined Uruguay for the World Cup Qualifiers. These absences will undoubtably limit their ability to control the flanks and stretch out Seattle’s defense, but it would be ill-advised for the visiting team to take this game lightly.

However, if there is someone who will make sure to leave it all in the field to ensure the Rave Green come out on top it’s “The Tank” who is already champing at the chance to give LAFC another loss and perhaps add his third goal of the season.