LAFC v Seattle Part 2
By: Andrew Doran
Previewing the same team that LAFC just beat last week is a hard task to undertake. The Los Angeles Football Club played one of their best games in history in a 4-1 drubbing over the Seattle Sounders last Sunday at the Banc of California Stadium. How is Seattle going to respond to the defeat? Is Seattle going to try and change up their formation or tactics? How is LAFC going to respond to playing on turf? Just a few questions that we are going to try and understand before Sunday’s marquee matchup.
One of the first things that I look at with this game is how LAFC is going to play on artificial turf. The squad has not had a lot of positive results when they are required to play on turf. So far, they have have played on five artificial pitches (Vancouver, Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, and Minnesota) for a total of six games. In those six, only two have been victories while the rest have been defeats. Their goal differently is pretty bad too, with only four goals scored while 13 have been scored against.
Because of the turf, LAFC have never been able to get into a flow. The ball bounces differently, has a bit more pace and just feels a little more unnatural. Bob Bradley even admitted this week that playing on artificial turf is a hard thing to do, but teams like Portland and Seattle have adapted well to it.
LAFC looks for the quick, fast passes that help split the lines of the opposing side. But with the artificial turf, the ball moves quicker than LAFC is use to. They end up giving away more balls in the midfield that allow for quick breaks for the other team.
While the defense has been better this season for LAFC than last year, it will be interesting to see how LAFC tries to strangle the Seattle front line. Seattle is tied for second in goals scored, only behind LAFC. The problem though for Seattle is that they could be going into this game on Sunday with their third-choice striker and backup wingers, something that wouldn’t help Seattle get past the iron defense of LA. In three games against Seattle, LAFC has only allowed one goal to go past Tyler Miller. Hopefully the team will be able to replicate that defensive hold for a fourth game.
The battle, and likely the area of the pitch that will win this match, will again in the midfield. Mark Anthony Kaye, Latif Blessing and Eduard Atuesta all could have taken away Man of the Match honors on Easter Sunday. While Seattle has two good midfielders as well, Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson, they were outclassed and outmatched last week. LAFC exploited that weakness which allowed for the win. I would expect Roldan and Svensson to change their tactics in taking on the midfield, but if the LAFC midfield can continue to pressure Seattle coming out of the backfield, LA has the opportunity to get quick counters and force Seattle into mistakes.
While LAFC only played Seattle last week, both teams are going through different emotions. LA were able to show everyone on national TV that they are the class of the West, if not all of MLS. Their style of play was fluid and beautiful, with Matthew Doyle of MLSSoccer.com calling last weeks performance “one of the best performances I’ve seen in the MLS”. The confidence of smashing your closest competitor must have been euphoric. On the opposite side, Seattle has come back down to Earth. Starting the season with a seven game unbeaten streak is impressive, but to lose 4-1 and then draw 2-2 at home causes some concern for the Green and Blue up north.
Seattle, unlike LAFC, had to play in a midweek fixture against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Seattle went down 2-0 before halftime, but were able to storm back to get a point at home, even though they had a golden chance to win the game in the second half. Seattle is going to be tired and might have to rotate more players, on top of the players that will be out due to injury.
This game is going to be open, just like it was last week. I expect more LAFC issues of getting into a rhythm due to the artificial pitch, but with a strong midfield performance again, LAFC will be able to have the upper hand over Seattle.
Projected Starting XI: Miller, Beitashour, Zimmerman, Segura, Harvey, Blessing, Kaye, Vela, Ramirez, Rossi.