Ahead of Tuesday’s Western Conference Final (7:00 p.m. PT; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM), the vibe around the team isn’t one that necessarily exudes an underdog mentality. And while host LAFC may be seen as the favorite – after all, Bob Bradley’s side set an MLS record with 72 points and lost at home just once in the regular season – the Rave Green have played in this crucial match three times in Brian Schmetzer’s four seasons.
“Our guys are ready,” Schmetzer said after Monday’s training session. “Our guys are ready to play the way we know how to play. We’ll see how that unfolds.”
Monday’s practice was originally scheduled to take place at UCLA, but it was moved to Loyola Marymount’s campus due to a nearby wildfire. The Getty Fire, which broke out overnight in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood, forced UCLA to cancel classes due to road closures in the area, but there is no immediate threat to campus.
At LMU, the Sounders trained under blue skies without any concerns of the air quality.
“It’s a gorgeous day down here,” Schmetzer said. “It’s a nice day and [the players] are in good spirits.”
The Sounders reached the conference final after dispatching FC Dallas 4-3 in extra time in Round One of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs before defeating Real Salt Lake 2-0 in the Western Conference Semifinals. Combined with two consecutive wins at the end of the regular season to secure the No. 2 seed in the West, the Sounders are in a good run of form heading into Tuesday’s contest.
“This is why we play—for us to get this far and actually be playing for a trophy,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said after training. “The guys are in good spirits and we’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
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The Rave Green are set to face their toughest test yet in LAFC. The Supporters’ Shield winner, which features MVP frontrunner Carlos Vela, beat the Sounders at Banc of California Stadium in April by a score of 4-1. Six months later, though, past results are wiped clean with a spot to compete in the MLS Cup at stake.
“I need every single player that steps on the field to play up to their potential,” Schmetzer said. “We have won four in a row – four tough matches in a row. We are excited that everybody is available.”