Where: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, California
When: Sunday, March 3, 5:30 pm PT
How to Watch: ESPN in the United States.
Having set the bar high in their first year of existence, Los Angeles Football Club are ready to begin their 2019 season. With Bob Bradley leading a group of players that have had the chance to rest up and get healthy, LAFC will look to build on their 2018 campaign, which saw them lose in the first round of the playoffs after finishing third in the West.
LAFC’s second year as an MLS franchise starts in the friendly confines of Banc of California Stadium, against last year’s top team in the West.
Sporting Kansas City finished last season with 62 points to top the Western Conference Standings. Having beat LAFC on Decision Day to lock up the number one seed in the playoffs, SKC went on to beat Real Salt Lake 5-3 on aggregate in the Western Conference Semifinals, and lost to Portland Timbers 2-3 on aggregate in the Finals (after a 0-0 first leg in Portland). Peter Vermes (one of the best coaches in MLS) and company will look to build on what was an already impressive season and enter the campaign with MLS Cup aspirations (does that sound familiar?).
Last season, Sporting Kansas City was the only team to beat LAFC twice. The first was August 11th, when Sporting ended LAFC’s unbeaten home run of 10 games by a 2-0 score. The second was the Decision Day matchup in Kansas City, where Sporting won 2-1. Sporting was also the only team to outright beat LAFC at the Banc, where LAFC had nine wins and seven draws in the season.
Sporting, meanwhile, had eight wins, three draws, and six losses on the road in 2018.
Kansas City, aside from having Vermes at the helm, fields a dangerous team. Tim Melia is consistently one of the best ‘keepers in MLS. While KC traded Ike Opara over the offseason to Minnesota, and traded Diego Rubio, they brought in Rodney Wallace from NYCFC and Kelyn Rowe from New England. They still have key players like Matt Besler, Felipe Gutierrez, and Johnny Russell, and will look for even more development on the part of Daniel Salloi and Gianluca Busio.
Prediction: LAFC 2, Sporting KC 1. The Banc helps propel Bob Bradley and his men to a strong start to the season over one of the strongest teams in the West. Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi both get on the score sheet.
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