The Seattle Sounders are taking on LAFC on Friday night (8:15 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360AM) at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. Here are three matchups to watch:
Will Bruin vs. Giorgio Chiellini
With Raúl Ruidíaz nursing a hamstring injury, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer has called on Bruin in each of the last two matches and he could very well get his third run-out in a row on Friday. The MLS veteran forward will be going head-to-head with Chiellini, who at one time was one of the world’s very best center backs. The soon-to-be 38-year-old is an Italian national team legend, having led The Azzurri to a European Championship while playing over 400 matches with global giants Juventus.
Cristian Roldan vs. José Cifuentes
Schmetzer opted to bring Roldan from the right wing into central midfield last week to partner alongside Albert Rusnák. That switch limited any sort of fluidity for the Colorado Rapids to play through midfield, as Roldan held his ground and snuffed out attacks all over the center of the park. He’ll need another strong performance on Friday against Cifuentes, who by every metric is one of the best midfielders in MLS this season. The 23-year-old Ecuadorian has six goals and four assists and is one of the league-leaders in Goals Added. He’s also in the 99th percentile in non-penalty expected goals and assists, in the 98th percentile in progressive passes and the 91st percentile in pressures.
Nouhou vs. Gareth Bale
After missing out last week, Nouhou should be fully rested and ready to go against one of the best players on the planet. That task is nothing new for the World Cup-bound Cameroonian, who earlier this year shut down Liverpool and Egypt winger Mohamed Salah at the Africa Cup of Nations. Bale, who recently signed with LAFC after his contract with Real Madrid expired, presents a similar challenge. The 33-year-old Wales captain has an abundance of pace, and although he’s yet to start for Steve Cherundolo’s side, he scored his first goal for the Black and Gold last week as a substitute in vintage Bale style.
DALLAS COMES TO TOWN
Spend your summer evening cheering on Sounders FC as we face FC Dallas at Lumen Field. Enjoy local food trucks, soccer, and more!