MLS

Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles FC: Preview and prediction

By Sports Desk March 17, 2023

Seattle Sounders face Los Angeles FC on Saturday in what Brian Schmetzer has described as a game "between two of the biggest clubs" in MLS.

Reigning MLS Cup champions LAFC head to Lumen Field with two wins under their belt from their two games this season – they are second in the Western Conference, one place ahead of Seattle, who are also on six points but lost at FC Cincinnati last time out.

LAFC were beaten by Alajuelense in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday but have still progressed in that competition thanks to a 3-0 win in the first leg.

And Schmetzer knows the Sounders will have to be at their best to end LAFC's winning start to the MLS season.

"This feels like a game between two of the biggest clubs in the league," said Schmetzer.

"We're really focused on playing up to our potential and then we'll see what the scoreline says at the end of the game.

"They're defending champs, it's a big game, and I hope to see everybody out there. We'll need the fans."

 

Schmetzer's sentiment was echoed by Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan, who added: "This is another opportunity to send a statement out to the rest of the league, to ourselves, that we can compete with the best on a weekly basis."

LAFC coach Steve Cherundolo, meanwhile, will be looking for more cutting edge from his side after their 2-1 defeat to Alajuelense.

"We're happy to be further in the competition, which was our objective," he said in a press conference.

"We created many chances, didn't finish. The only difference [from the first leg] was they scored a goal in the first half.

"We were a little too loose in our defensive transition. If we finish our chances early, the run of the game looks much different."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Seattle Sounders – Jordan Morris

Jordan Morris scored in each of Seattle's first two home games this season. The only Sounders player to score in the team's first three home matches of a season was Obafemi Martins in 2015.

Los Angeles FC – Denis Bouanga

Denis Bouanga has had a flying start to 2023, scoring five goals – including a hat-trick in the first leg against Alajuelense – and assisting a further two.

Bouanga has contributed to four goals in two matches so far this MLS season (two goals, two assists) after recording only three goal contributions (three goals) in 10 matches for LAFC last term.

 

MATCH PREDICTION – SEATTLE TO WIN

Seattle won their opening two home games of the MLS season by a combined score of 6-0. The Sounders have won their first three home matches of a campaign on two previous occasions, back in 2019 and 2021.

Indeed, that third victory in 2021 came against LAFC, whose inaugural MLS game was a 1-0 win over the Sounders in March 2018.

Since then, however, Seattle are unbeaten in six straight home meetings with LAFC (W4 D2).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Seattle Sounders – 41 per cent

Los Angeles FC – 30.9 per cent

Draw – 28.1 per cent

Related items

  • Real Salt Lake v LA Galaxy: Mastroeni sets his sights high Real Salt Lake v LA Galaxy: Mastroeni sets his sights high

    Real Salt Lake head coach Pablo Mastroeni says his team are aiming to be champions and are looking to continue their impressive form against LA Galaxy on Saturday.

    RSL sit top of the Western Conference on 37 points, having lost just two matches so far this season while putting together an astounding 15-game unbeaten run in the league.

    Mastroeni knows exactly where his side are in the table, and he has embraced the challenge that comes with being the leader.

    "It's about connecting to the big picture - we want to be champs," said Mastroeni. "There's all these sayings in sport for a reason, the one I go by is offence will win you games, but defence will win you championships.

    "It always goes back to what we want to achieve as a team. It's about fine-tuning some things and having a real understanding that we're now the hunted and need to get everyone's best game."

    The Galaxy are one of those chasing Salt Lake down, sitting just three points below them in third, having lost just one of their last nine matches.

    Having won their last two games, head coach Greg Vanney was particularly pleased with how his side defended in those two victories.

    "When we're following through on our responsibilities and making the games as predictable as we possibly can, then it helps the group to deal with situations a lot easier and cleaner," Vanney said.

    "We've done a nice job of that in the last two games, and it helps us to defend better. It gives the group a lot of confidence in understanding that if we stick to what we want to do, we can be a lot more efficient, especially in defence."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Real Salt Lake – Cristian Arango

    Arango has scored six goals in six career MLS matches against the Galaxy (incl. playoffs), tied for his most against any opponent in MLS play (Austin, Dallas).

    No player has scored more goals against the Galaxy since Arango joined MLS in August 2021.

    LA Galaxy – Dejan Joveljic

    Joveljic had both a goal and an assist in the Galaxy's win over New York City FC on Wednesday, his second straight game with one of each.

    The only other Galaxy player to have three straight regular-season games with both a goal and an assist is Zlatan Ibrahimovic (September 2019).

    MATCH PREDICTION: REAL SALT LAKE WIN

    Salt Lake have lost only one of their last six regular-season matches against the Galaxy (W2 D3), though that defeat came in their last home league match against them in May 2023.

    The Galaxy have won consecutive regular-season road games against RSL just once, doing so in 2012-13.

    RSL are unbeaten in 15 straight regular-season matches (W9 D6), equaling the longest single-season streak since the Portland Timbers went 15 straight without defeat in 2018. There have only been three longer single-season streaks in MLS history, most recently a 16-match run by New York Red Bulls in 2016.

    Meanwhile, the Galaxy have won four of their last five games (L1) with the last three of those wins coming by at least two goals. It is the first time the team have had three victories by multiple goals in a four-game span since doing so in September-October 2018.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Real Salt Lake – 53.7%

    Draw – 23.8%

    LA Galaxy – 22.6%

  • Colorado Rapids v CF Montreal: Armas has faith in hosts' squad, plots rotation Colorado Rapids v CF Montreal: Armas has faith in hosts' squad, plots rotation

    Chris Armas has full faith in the depth of his Colorado Rapids squad as he ponders potential changes ahead of Saturday's clash with CF Montreal in MLS.

    The Rapids are enjoying an impressive campaign and currently sit fifth in the Western Conference standings, nine points adrift of leaders Real Salt Lake.

    They thrashed St. Louis City 3-0 on the road on Wednesday after overcoming Austin FC last weekend, and at the end of a busy week, Armas will likely make some changes.

    "We'll take a hard look and think about fresh legs and then tactically what makes the most sense, but I have a lot of confidence in our roster," Armas said.

    "I have a lot of confidence in the depth, confidence in players' abilities to suffer and increase the comfort zones to suffer and to endure a little bit more physically. 

    "It's a difficult part of any coach's job. Only 11 guys can start and you only use a finite amount to divvy out. We'll take a close look, but again, I have a lot of confidence. 

    "We have really strong internal competition that's driving the team forward and then I can take the tough decisions, but that's my job."

    Montreal, meanwhile, sit 12th in the Eastern Conference after being pegged back in a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls last time out.

    Midfielder Bryce Duke believes adjusting to the altitude in Denver will be a major test for them next time out, saying: "Getting here two days before the game helps us with our preparation. 

    "It gives us an extra day of practice in these conditions. Our staff is working on a gameplan to help us acclimate to the altitude."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Colorado Rapids – Djordje Mihailovic 

    Mihailovic secured the first hat-trick of his career against St. Louis City on Wednesday, becoming the third Rapids player with a treble in a road game in any MLS competition and the first to do so since 2009, joining Conor Casey (twice) and Jeff Cunningham.

    CF Montreal – Sunusi Ibrahim 

    Ibrahim scored the opening goal in Montreal's draw against the Red Bulls on Wednesday, his 12th goal in MLS play, all before turning 22 years old. 

    That is double the number of regular-season goals scored by any other player before turning 22 in Montreal's MLS history (six by Orji Okwonkwo).

    MATCH PREDICTION: COLORADO RAPIDS WIN

    This will be the first meeting between the Rapids and Montreal since a 6-3 home win for Colorado in August 2019. Those six goals are the most Colorado have ever scored in a match.

    While it may not be as convincing as that win, Colorado are fancied for another victory here.

    They have won each of their last two games to nil. The last time the Rapids had consecutive shutout victories was in March 2022, and the last time they won three straight with shutouts was in August 2007.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Colorado Rapids – 45.3%

    CF Montreal – 27.8%

    Draw – 26.9%

  • St. Louis City v Atlanta United: Markanich says home advantage must tell St. Louis City v Atlanta United: Markanich says home advantage must tell

    St. Louis City must use this week's home clash with Atlanta United to turn things around after seven games without a victory, says defender Anthony Markanich.

    St. Louis were thrashed 3-0 by the Colorado Rapids in midweek to extend their miserable run of form, with their last victory coming against the Chicago Fire back on May 12.

    They have slipped to 12th in the Western Conference standings after topping the pile in their first campaign in MLS in 2023, and Markanich says they need to harness the support they receive at CITYPARK.

    "I think every home game should be a win," Markanich said. "These next two games are very important."

    Reflecting on their midweek defeat, head coach Bradley Carnell said: "At the moment, we can have certain things not going our way. We're not looking for excuses or for help, we have to help ourselves out of this situation. 

    "I'm confident in my group that we can do that. It's not been what we were looking for and we know we can do better."

    Atlanta, meanwhile, have won back-to-back matches to rise to ninth in the Eastern Conference, looking revitalised under interim head coach Rob Valentino.

    Thiago Almada scored their winner against D.C. United last time out, leading Valentino to heap praise upon the 2022 World Cup winner.

    "He ends up showing his quality, that's what he's there for," Valentino said of Almada.

    "He works hard in training to do that, whether he's got pressure on him or not. As a staff we try to take the pressure off everyone in the group and let them go out and enjoy their football."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    St. Louis City – Joao Klauss

    Klauss' five goals in MLS this year are more than any other St. Louis player, while only Celio Pompeu and Eduard Lowen (three apiece) have bettered his two assists among his team-mates.

    Atlanta United – Thiago Almada 

    Almada scored the only goal of the match from outside the box in Atlanta's win over D.C. United on Wednesday, his 12th career MLS goal from outside the area, four more than any other player since he joined the league in 2022.

    MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW 

    This will be the first ever meeting between St. Louis and Atlanta. The hosts are winless in four straight games on their own turf for the first time in club history.

    Atlanta, meanwhile, have recorded back-to-back road wins for the first time in almost three years, since victories over the Columbus Crew and D.C. back in August 2021.

    The Five Stripes had drawn four of their previous five away matches across all competitions, though, and another draw could be on the cards here.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    St. Louis City – 37%

    Atlanta United – 36.6%

    Draw – 26.4%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.