Where: Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, California
When: Friday, July 26, 7:00 pm PT
How to Watch: ESPN in the United States.
Los Angeles Football Club will look to rebound from their gut-punch loss to the Galaxy as they return home to Banc of California Stadium on Friday to host defending MLS Cup Champions Atlanta United. While LAFC were on the road in Carson, falling victim to the buzzsaw that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Atlanta hosted D.C. United and came away with a solid 2-0 win.
LAFC, despite their 3-2 loss to the Galaxy, sit in first place in the Western Conference and MLS with 46 points. Their +35 goal differential still far and away leads the league, and their 20 goals conceded is best in MLS. Atlanta are sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference, with 36 points- just one above D.C. United and three below the Philadelphia Union.
LAFC, as always, will be happy to return to the friendly confines of The Banc. The Black-and-Gold have won eight matches and drawn two at home in MLS play, Their only loss at home this season is to Portland, the loss that knocked them out of the U.S. Open Cup. Meanwhile, Atlanta United have three wins and six losses on the road in MLS play, which LAFC will surely be looking forward to pouncing on.
Last time the sides met, the teams looked vastly different. In 2018, Atlanta United, under Tata Martino, came in with a chip on their shoulder after being knocked out of the playoffs by Columbus. In the fifth match of the season, Atlanta eviscerated LAFC in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, dropping five goals on the Black-and-Gold, who were reeling at the time from ~that~ 4-3 loss to the Galaxy in Zlatan’s debut. Atlanta, of course, went on to win MLS Cup, and Tata Martino left to manage the Mexican National Team. Under Frank de Boer, Atlanta play a different style that focuses less on counter-attacking, and more on defense and possession. Now, while LAFC are still reeling from a Galaxy loss, they are favorites for the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup, with (newly minted MLS All-Star Captain) Carlos Vela playing out of his mind.
Prediction: LAFC 2, Atlanta United 1. LAFC could have asked for an easier match after their El Trafico loss, but they have a huge chance to set the record straight against the defending MLS Cup Champions. This will be the bounce-back match that Bob Bradley and LAFC desperately need, after dropping two of their last three matches. Look for LAFC to make a statement in a firecracker of a match.
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