Fresh off a commanding 4-0 win on Thursday against Santa Tecla FC, one that catapulted the Seattle Sounders into the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, the Rave Green will have another tough test with little time to recover.
The Sounders will host 2018 expansion franchise LAFC on Sunday (2 p.m. PT; ESPN, YouTube TV, 950 JKR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) in their inaugural game and the MLS season opener. The match falls three days before the Sounders’ first leg CCL game against Chivas de Guadalajara on Wednesday and because of major fixture congestion, it will be a great opportunity for some of Seattle’s younger players to make their mark.
“For guys like us, [these early games are] a big opportunity,” said second-year professional Henry Wingo. “[LAFC are] going to be fired up. Everyone has to be ready. When you get on, do everything that’s asked of you to help the team win.”
Preparing for a team that has never played together before is no simple task. Outside of a few preseason games that don’t offer much in terms of scouting, there is a lack of film available to prepare accordingly. The only info the Sounders have is what they already know of individual players and their respective tendencies, rather than how the team operates collectively.
“We know where these guys come from, and we’ve seen what they’ve done on other teams, but we don’t know how they’re going to line up,” said Wingo. “We know they’re going to come out firing. As a new franchise, they want to make a statement. We just have to be ready for whatever they have to throw at us.”
LAFC boast a strong attack in Designated Players Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, along with Costa Rica international forward Marco Ureña and U.S. international midfielder Benny Feilhaber.
“Vela is a big guy we have to watch out for, we know his quality,” said Wingo. “We’ve seen him play over in Europe and with Mexico. He’s goal-dangerous. That’s the main guy we’re going to look out for. Feilhaber is a playmaker and can unlock teams. No matter who steps out on the field for them, we have to be ready and able to adapt.”
The Sounders will look to continue their stellar home record they have accumulated under Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, going 22-1-7 in 30 matches since he took the reins in summer 2016. In the last six home matches alone dating back to last year, Seattle has outscored its opponents 19-0. The goal is to start the MLS season off right on Sunday and record its seventh home-opening win in 10 years.
“We came up a little short last year, but I think our fans are ready to get the train moving again and get off on a good foot,” Wingo said. “I’m sure the stadium will be packed. It’s going to be a great atmosphere, and everyone is going to be excited and ready to go.”