The Seattle Sounders take on Western Conference foe LAFC on Monday in the Round of 16 at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Fla.
WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. PT at the Walt Disney Wide World of Sports Complex.
WHERE TO WATCH: The match will be televised on FS1 and TUDN.
WHERE TO LISTEN: The match will air on 950 KJR AM and El Rey 1360 AM.
2019 RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Sounders: 16-10-8 (56 points, 2nd West), LAFC: 21-4-9 (72 points, 1st West)
2020 RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Sounders: 2-1-2 (8 points, 5th West), LAFC: 2-0-3 (9 points, 4th West)
FORM GUIDE (most recent first): Seattle: WLDDW, LA: DWDDW
ALL-TIME HISTORY: The Sounders are 1-3-1 all-time against LAFC.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Seattle ventured South to Banc of California Stadium to take on the 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners in the 2019 Western Conference Final. Billed as underdogs heading into the massive fixture, Seattle put on a tactical masterclass LAFC, dismantling the MLS Cup favorites with a 3-1 victory on the road. The hosts jumped out to an early lead courtesy of an Eduard Atuesta free kick, only for Raúl Ruidíaz to equalize within minutes from a lethal counterattack. Captain Nicolás Lodeiro put Seattle in the lead shortly thereafter with a clever fish from distance, and Ruidíaz put the match out of reach with another tally in the second half. The comprehensive manner of the victory propelled the Sounders as they lifted the 2019 MLS Cup at CenturyLink Field a few weeks later.
GRUDGE MATCH: Both teams enter this fixture eager to control the narrative surrounding the 2019 Western Conference Final. For Seattle, it’s an opportunity to prove that win was no fluke, flexing their credentials as the true perennial powerhouse in the Western Conference. For LAFC, it’s a chance at redemption, as the Sounders derailed their chances of a domestic double in 2019.
FORMAT CHANGES: In the group stage, all three matches counted toward each team’s regular season standings. That’s no longer the case in the knockout rounds, with the incentive shifting towards lucrative prizes for the MLS is Back Tournament winner.
CASH MONEY: The winning team at this brand-new competition will take home the prize pool of $1.1 million, leaving the Sounders just a few victories away from a serious payout.
CCL GLORY: In addition to the financial incentive, the winner of MLS is Back automatically books a spot in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League, a competition that the Sounders organization is champing at the bit to win.
NO VELA, NO PROBLEM: LAFC have been without the services of 2019 MLS MVP and club talisman Carlos Vela all tournament. Vela, who bagged an absurd 34 goals and 14 assists in 31 starts last season, opted out of the tournament to be there for the birth of his child. Even without the services of the dynamic winger, the Black & Gold scored 11 goals from three games in the group stage.
VULNERABLE BACK LINE: As prolific as LA’s attack has been, their defense has been equally gappy, shipping seven goals from just three matches. They look particularly susceptible to conceding quality chances in transition, a prospect that suits Seattle’s attacking triumvirate of Morris, Ruidíaz and Lodeiro.