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LAFC gear up for chess match on the field against Seattle Sounders

On the road, LAFC will square off against defending MLS Cup winners.

SOCCER: SEP 18 MLS - LAFC at Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Los Angeles Football Club started out hot against the Seattle Sounders, going unbeaten in the teams’ first four meetings all-time, LAFC winning three of those clashes.

Then the Sounders got LAFC’s number.

In the 2019 Western Conference final, the Sounders finally beat LAFC, coming from behind to defeat the black-and-gold 3-1 at Banc of California Stadium. This season, it’s been even through the first four meetings, with LAFC beating Seattle in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout phase, the Sounders winning both regular-season games in Seattle, and a shorthanded LAFC squad defeating the Sounders in the teams’ last meeting, in Los Angeles.

LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said there’s been a distinction between home and away games in the meetings lately, which seems important ahead of the upcoming playoff game between the teams Nov. 24 in Seattle.

“We’ve had really good games with Seattle,” Bradley told reporters during media availability on Friday. “Always interesting, the differences between home games and away games. Typically they have ideas on how they try to close down the center of the field against us, and so our ability to find the right spacing, find the right passes, and then our understanding of picking the right moments to press.”

The Sounders are the defending MLS Cup champion, of course, and have deployed tactics to stymie LAFC, especially in last year’s playoff win. They also have talent.

“They’ve got dangerous attackers with [Raul] Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris and of course [Nicolas] Lodeiro is smart,” Bradley explained. “So if you’re stepping up at the wrong time, Lodeiro’s eye to put certain balls behind and cause trouble is something we’re certainly aware of. A lot of little details for both teams to consider in a big game.”

LAFC forward Bradley Wright-Phillips thinks the previous losses against the Sounders in Seattle was as much the fault of LAFC as anything.

“We didn’t win there twice, we played them twice away and it was tough, I won’t lie,” Wright-Phillips said Friday. “But I think our mistakes were our downfall when we played them. If you’re looking at the game itself, I don’t think we’ve been outplayed there. When we go there, it’s a game where we have to give our best, I think we have to cut out the individual mistakes and I think if we get 11 complete performances, we win the game. That’s my personal opinion.”

2020 has been a season with considerable adversity for LAFC, much as it has been for every team. On their day, they can beat any team. But those days have not come as often during a difficult season.

Still, they are in the playoffs and have a shot to win a trophy. Forward Christian Torres was upbeat when reflecting on the task ahead.

“Building up for the playoffs, we’re coming with a better mentality and we’re in it to win it,” he said.

Certainly, LAFC’s supporters hope that will be the case.

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