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LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake: MLS Cup Playoffs Match Preview

The playoffs are here, let’s do this.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Where: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, Calif.

When: Thursday, November 1st, 7:30 pm PT

How to Watch: ESPN2, UniMás in the United States.

Los Angeles Football Club had a tough loss against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, and in doing so miss out on a bye, and have to play in the Knockout Round of the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Still, LAFC are hosting a playoff game, and in Real Salt Lake, they might have the ideal opponent out of the teams in the west.

Because of a schedule quirk, RSL did not play on decision day, and they would have missed out on the playoffs if the LA Galaxy had beaten the Houston Dynamo at home.

That did not happen though, RSL just scraped into the playoffs by a Galaxy collapse, sparing all of us another match up with the Galaxy this year, a game I’m sure would have made all LAFC fans very nervous.

Still, RSL can be a dangerous team, particularly if Albert Rusnak is given time on the ball to create.

That is something which very well could happen, given LAFC’s lack of a defensive midfielder.

Stalwart goalkeeper Nick Rimando is having another solid season.

Scoring-wise, Real Salt Lake’s danger men are Damir Kreilach and Corey Baird. Baird and Kreilach score most of the goals. Rusnak has 10 this season, but five of those were in a three-game span. Hopefully he does not decide to start a hot streak in this game.

RSL’s main weakness is through the middle of the field. Kyle Beckerman is not the player that he was, and their other central midfield options are not great either.

If LAFC can force play through the middle, and find Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi in gaps between the defense, things could go very well.

LAFC’s big question is what it always seems to be: can they hold a lead? This has been a main weakness of the team all season, and will only be amplified in the playoffs where all the teams are good.

LAFC will probably have much of the ball in this game, and it would not be at all surprising if they grab a lead in this game.

RSL have speed though, and if they can get out and run against a slow LAFC back line, that could spell trouble for the home team.

One other big factor in this game is rest. RSL not playing this past weekend means they have had an extended rest period. Meanwhile, LAFC has a short turn around from playing on Sunday. How they will manage that and any fatigue from the short rest could be key.

Prediction: LAFC 3, RSL 1. LAFC get their first ever playoff win. Diego Rossi continues his hot streak and gets on the scoreboard.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!