Los Angeles FC-Sounders FC Preview
Western Conference leaders the Seattle Sounders are ready to prove they are still good enough to win MLS Cup, even despite a pair of injury blows ahead of hosting Los Angeles FC.
The Sounders have reached four of the past five championship matches, winning two, but were not widely considered among the favourites this year.
Brian Schmetzer's side have quickly made a mockery of those forecasts, though, moving four points clear at the top of the West through five games.
Schmetzer said: "What I would say is a lot of people have written this team off. Some people don't think this team is good enough to win a championship.
"I disagree, I disagree completely and we're going to keep going, we're going to keep fighting."
In their most recent win, against the San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle finished with wing-back Alex Roldan in goal after club great Stefan Frei went down, while Jordy Delem was also injured.
The coach added: "This team's not done. We'll get the next man up and we'll keep moving and we'll keep fighting."
The Sounders have already played LAFC once this season, drawing 1-1 in the only match in which they have so far dropped points.
LAFC boss Bob Bradley said: "We've had so many tight games with them, games, in some cases, where we've taken the initiative but still not been able to score with some chances and then they've taken advantage of a moment and put us behind.
"If I just go by this year, I thought it was a hard-fought early-season game. Two teams went after each other and I'd expect that again."
Seattle Sounders – Spencer Richey
Richey, signed from FC Cincinnati, would have expected to spend the season watching from the bench, such is Frei's hold on the starting role in Seattle. The backup was a spectator again in midweek, with Roldan drafted in as an emergency, but he will get his chance now against daunting opposition.
Los Angeles FC – Jesus David Murillo
Murillo arrived at LAFC late last season but is already a key figure for Bradley. He is tasked with holding the fort as his defensive colleagues advance in possession. Against Seattle striker Raul Ruidiaz, Murillo could have his work cut out.
- This will be the first MLS meeting between Real Salt Lake and Nashville SC.
- After losing their first three games against LAFC, Seattle have been beaten in just two of the past eight meetings (W4 D2), with one of those defeats coming in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout stage. The Sounders have kept only one clean sheet in the 11 all-time meetings, while LAFC have kept two, in the first two meetings between the sides having conceded in all nine games since.
- The Sounders have 13 points from their first five matches for the second time in the past three seasons. They are the only team in the past 20 seasons to have at least 13 points after five games more than once.
- LAFC have collected just five points in 10 regular season away matches since the start of last season (W1 D2 L7). Only FC Cincinnati (four) have collected fewer.
- Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9 goals) has scored more against LAFC than Nicolas Lodeiro and Ruidiaz (five goals each).
- Eduard Atuesta has scored four of his eight MLS goals (including playoffs) against Seattle, including his most recent two. Atuesta's free-kick goal after a minute and 25 seconds in the 1-1 draw with Seattle on April 24 was the fastest goal in LAFC history.
Updated May 14, 2021