MLS’s team of the decade meets the defending MLS Cup champions as sudden-death rounds begin in the playoffs. The Sounders have made some beautiful playoff memories against LAFC, but the team will need to rely on more than the heroes of years past in order to advance. Designated Players Raúl Ruidíaz and Nicolás Lodeiro have become super-subs for Seattle, while Golden Boot winner Denís Bouanga has put LAFC on his back for most of the season, including their playoff run. Let’s look at how the teams may navigate this tense and even matchup.
LAFC is among the most direct attacking teams in the league. The Sounders are among the most patient. Both sides are likely to lean into their strengths. Barring an early defensive disaster, expect a tense affair where neither side is keen to make the first mistake.
The Sounders will attempt to control the game with possession, maintaining a balanced shape that limits space for LAFC to control the ball and counterattack should possession be lost. LAFC will try to be compact defensively, apply pressure, and play over the Sounders’ midfield to their three forwards. Direct play over the opponent’s midfield has served LAFC well.