Alex Roldan LAFCvSEA Preview Cover

Sounders FC shuffled the pack in midweek and maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a hard fought 1-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes.


The Sounders were able to rest some key performers on Wednesday, so the likes João Paulo, Will Bruin and Brad Smith should be fresh for the second meeting of the season with LAFC this Sunday. The win in San Jose did come at a cost, with Jordy Delem tearing his ACL and Stefan Frei picking up an injury that will see him miss some important games.


The first meeting between Seattle and LAFC at Banc of California stadium was a tight affair, as neither side were really at their creative best without playmakers Carlos Vela and Nicolás Lodeiro. LAFC will have Diego Rossi and Tyler Blackmon back to bolster the starting lineup the Sounders saw the first time around, while Vela will be available from the bench. The Sounders may still be without Lodeiro, but showed once again in midweek that the squad has the ability to cope when key players are absent.





Possession:


While possession in the first meeting with LAFC was relatively even, the Sounders have been out-possessed in their last three MLS games. The absence of Lodeiro obviously hurts Seattle’s ability to dictate tempo and control the ball in midfield – just watch his performance against LA Galaxy – but there are other areas where the Sounders need to improve if they are to increase their share of possession.


The most obvious is the hold-up play of the forwards. Unless the forwards keep possession long enough for the midfield and wingbacks to advance into more attacking support positions, Seattle will struggle to keep the ball for long periods. 


Defence:


Diego Rossi’s ability to play any of the front three roles for LAFC makes him a difficult player to pin down defensively. There must be defensive cover to ensure no player is left in a 1v1 situation against one of the league’s elite attackers. Seattle’s left and right center backs, Nouhou and Yeimar, have proven capable and willing to defend in wide areas. Their ability to do this at a high level will be key to keep Rossi, and Vela quiet.

Attack:


Smith was a constant threat in the first matchup with LAFC but may find it a little more difficult to find space in behind against the underrated Blackmon.  Smith can still offer service without getting in behind, although it is something we have rarely seen this season. We know how good Bruin can be at attacking crosses, but he has not received the service he can thrive on. This can also open up space for Raúl Ruidíaz to exploit and get on the end of any Bruin knock down. 


Key Player:


Cristian Roldan has been in excellent form this season and his goal in midweek was a fitting reward for his level of play. Roldan’s high-energy style from an advanced midfield position gives the Sounders a late arriving attacking option that can continue to provide a scoring punch while also helping win the all-important midfield battle

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