This Easter Sunday you are going to need to find a way to watch the Seattle Sounders FC visit Banc of California Stadium to take on Los Angeles Football Club. Currently, LAFC is sitting on top of the Western Conference on 19 points. Their first loss of the season came on Wednesday at Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Seattle currently sits at second in the Western Conference on 16 points, but have two games in hand over LA. Even though we are still early into the MLS season, this is a huge game.
Los Angeles Football Club vs Seattle Sounders Vital Information
This game will kick off at 4 pm Eastern time (1 pm for those of us in Arizona) on Fox Sports One. It can also be live-streamed in Canada on MLS Live on Dazn. The man overseeing the action will be Baldomero Toldeo who has a ton of experience in the MLS. He will be joined by Mike Rottersman and Ian Anderson with Tim Ford overseeing the fourth official spot. And since this is MLS, Alex Chilowicz will be manning VAR to make sure the correct calls are made. For those that still might be a little unsure what VAR does, it is to make sure that the correct call gets made in four match-changing situations. Those would be goals, penalty kicks, straight red cards, and cases of mistaken identity.
Five points that shouldn’t be overlooked
Carlos Vela is making a case for MLS MVP. LAFC’s first ever signing has started the season off extremely strong. In 8 matches, Carlos Vela has netted the ball a league-leading 8 times. If Vela is able to keep up this pace, he could match Josef Martinez’s single-season goal scoring record. While that is impressive enough, Vela also leads the league in assists. Not only is he a threat in front of the goal, but he is providing opportunities for teammates to score.
Seattle has had an impressive to the start of the season as well. Winning five of their six games with the only draw coming against Vancouver in Canada (the same place where LAFC lost). The most recent win came over a Toronto FC team on the rise and saw Will Bruin score a brace in front of the Seattle faithful. What has impressed me with Seattle this year has been their ability to move the ball down the left side of the field. The interplay between Brad Smith, Cristian Roldan, and Victor Rodriguez is beautiful to watch and will give LAFC defenders Steven Beitashour (or Shaft Brewer Jr.) and Latif Blessing some problems. If LA figures out how to slow down that left side of Seattle, they can always make the switch to the right where Jordan Morris can cause issues of his own.
This game could be the battle of the goalkeepers. Currently, Stefan Frei of Seattle has the most saves in the MLS at 24 off of 29 shots faced. This gives him a goals-against average of .83. The man on the other side of the pitch for LAFC, Tyler Miller, has made 19 saves off of 26 shots saved which gives him a goals-against average of .75. What does this all mean? Both are excellent goalkeepers that are sitting behind excellent defenses.
One reason for the excellent numbers put up by both goalkeepers are the solid backlines that sit in front of them. Each backline anchored by a dominating center back that is vital to the success of the team. For LAFC that person is Walker Zimmerman. Since coming to LA, Zimmerman has established himself as one of the best center backs in the league. He is disciplined (four yellow cards in 2018, one this season) and can provide some offense on set pieces (already one goal this year). For Seattle it is Chad Marshall a veteran defender who has the ability to put in last minute tackles and (like Zimmerman) is extremely disciplined. The last time Marshall was carded was in 2017.
Finally, look for Seattle to be chomping at the bit to get a victory over LA. In two meetings Los Angeles as taken maximum points off of Seattle. The MLS opener in 2018 saw a brand new LAFC go to Century Link Field and come away with a 1-0 victory. The scoreline was the same with Seattle made the trip south. With the games in hand, a victory over LAFC could put Seattle in a prime position to make a claim for the best squad in the MLS.
Los Angeles Football Club vs Seattle Sounders Prediction
Even though it is early on in the season, I think this game will feel like a playoff game. Both Seattle and LA will want to continue their current form. I would imagine that Vela will continue to add to his MVP resume with another superb performance while Seattle will look to break them down.
Prediction—LAFC win 3-2