Los Angeles Football Club kick off their history on Sunday afternoon in Seattle, Washington, as they face 2017 MLS Cup finalist Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. The broadcast is slated to start at 2 pm PT on ESPN, with kickoff likely to come roughly 25 minutes later.
The first game ever makes it challenging to write a game preview. You can say everything and at the same time nothing. LAFC have been a theoretical concern for three and a half years. Today, they are fully realized. No longer a mere idea, they are a real, living, breathing soccer team, warts and all, for better and worse.
In more tangible terms, LAFC will have the ultimate measuring stick against the Sounders. While the expansion team played three MLS sides in their four preseason games, we all know that preseason games are just not the same as the real deal, and opening your history in the large (and full) Sounders stadium is not the easiest ask for a brand new team.
At the same time, consider the Sounders’ situation coming into this. Yes, Seattle have two games under their belt already, by virtue of playing in the CONCACAF Champions League, but they played the most recent game on Thursday night, and they’ve got the next round of the CCL, against tougher opposition in Chivas de Guadalajara, on Wednesday. Will Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer rotate his lineup? Word on the street is that the changes for the LAFC game will be pretty substantial, and while the Sounders have a pretty good roster, it sounds like some key players may not start to get ready for CCL.
What to watch for
How will Bob Bradley approach this first match? Tough conditions, even if it’s a blank slate against a team on short rest. Bradley has repeatedly expressed an interest in playing exciting soccer. But he’s got a short squad — for various reasons, LAFC may not even field a full 18 for the match, and a few players who make the bench may or may not realistically be able to play.
Throw in the opponent and location, and it’s possible Bradley may try to play more conservatively. Then again, they have just two midfielders who are available and not on the injury report. LAFC may try to score six goals on the Sounders and hope they can defend well enough to not let in nine. The lineup could truly get interesting.
LAFC: Aaron Kovar (ineligible, loan), Luis Lopez (OUT, leg), Eduard Atuesta (OUT, paperwork), Laurent Ciman (QUESTIONABLE, knee), Omar Gaber (QUESTIONABLE, adductor), Calum Mallace (QUESTIONABLE, knee), James Murphy (QUESTIONABLE, shoulder)
Sounders: Osvaldo Alonso (OUT, quad), Kelvin Leerdam (OUT, ankle), Jordan Morris (OUT, knee), Victor Rodriguez (QUESTIONABLE, quad)
What do you think? Leave a comment below!