Following the conclusion of the group stages of the MLS Is Back tournament, Monday night sees Seattle Sounders take on Los Angeles FC in knockout action at Bay Lake, Florida (11pm ET on FS1 & TUDN). The Washington side will be hoping to become the first team to defeat Bob Bradley’s men since the restart.
Read on for USAbetting’s game preview with Seattle Sounders vs LAFC predictions and picks.
Seattle growing in confidence
It was never going to be easy for teams to hit the ground running after such a lengthy lay-off, some were bound to find their stride quite quickly, while others would find the return to action all too much. In Seattle’s case, the cobwebs are being swept away in stages. First time out, The Sounders looked rusty against San Jose, then, despite not being at it defensively, they started to improve on the ball against Chicago as they dominated possession. Last time out, everything started to click nicely into place for the current MLS Cup holders.
‘Laboured’ and ‘out of sorts’ were apt descriptions for Seattle’s attack against both Chicago and San Jose, but the likes of Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris, who netted a combined 28 goals last season, both started to show the sort of form that allowed The Sounders to lift the MLS Cup back in December when lining up against Vancouver recently. Not only did the main goal threats look nicely warmed up, but there was a lot more purpose about Seattle’s play in general, while their key creative players were able to shift through the gears too. The dominant, incisive performance that Brian Schmetzer’s men delivered against The Whitecaps should leave them feeling confident ahead of this mammoth clash.
Strong attack papers over the cracks
LAFC continued to look dangerous offensively last time out, as they scored multiple goals for the third time since arriving in Florida, notching twice against Houston Dynamo. However, the defence of Bob Bradley’s men was once again on the shaky side. We know that LAFC are excellent at getting on the front foot against teams, while they rarely go without creating numerous scoring opportunities, but they are likely to come unstuck soon enough unless they tighten up at the back.
In three matches at the MLS is Back Tournament, Bradley’s men have shipped seven goals, conceding two or more in every game. They have also conceded ten in five since the start of the current campaign back in March. In contrast, Seattle have kept two clean sheets in Florida.
Given that LAFC have only been part of MLS for just over two seasons, it is probably too soon to start talking about bogey teams, but it is easy to envisage Seattle becoming just that for Bob Bradley’s MLS Cup searchers. Initially, getting the better of The Sounders wasn’t something that The Black and Gold struggled with, but they are now without a win in two in this fixture. When the pair last met, Seattle upset the odds by dumping LAFC out of the MLS Cup semi-finals with a 3-1 victory.
Interestingly, away from the comforts of their own stadium, Los Angeles FC have only failed to score more than once against two Western Conference teams since they first joined the league back in 2018. One of those teams is Seattle Sounders.
If we look back to that semi-final from late 2019, it really isn’t difficult to see Schmetzer’s side doing well in this fixture. Back then, they did as good a job as anyone has done of nullifying the LAFC attack, while they were outstanding at capitalizing on a weak rear-guard. Similar tactics could easily see a similar outcome, especially as from a Sounders point of view, not a lot has changed. They still have the same settled group of players.
Sounders the value bet
The LA side is favorite with the U.S. sports gambling sites, which is hardly a surprise. They are unbeaten at this tournament and haven’t lost since late 2019. Bettors would do well to remember who it was that got the better of them on that occasion. Seattle are currently available at +210 on the moneyline with those sportsbooks, which must be on the generous side.
In recent years, when it comes to knockout football in the USA, few teams have been as strong as The Sounders, who lifted the MLS Cup in both 2016 and 2019, as well as reaching the final in 2017.
As already mentioned in this preview, LAFC’s leaky defence is going to cost them sooner or later and at the current odds, it is worth betting that it is Seattle who hand Bob Bradley’s Western-Conference giants a first defeat of 2020. So, having studied the betting lines, these are our Seattle Sounders vs Los Angeles FC predictions and concluding picks: