Looking to kick on after picking up vital wins last time out, Seattle Sounders and LAFC go head-to-head at Lumen Field on Saturday (3pm ET). Will it be three wins on the spin for the Sounders? Or can the visitors maintain their advantage at the top of the western tree?
After their early season was somewhat disrupted by their continental commitments, the Sounders have finally found their feet in Major League Soccer. Brian Schmetzer’s men, who in early May became the first American winners of CONCACAF Champions League, have won four of their last five league games, including each of their last two. They arrive here off the back of a thumping victory against the Vancouver Whitecaps last time out.
The men in green now find themselves back in a more familiar position, though they are only just inside the playoff spots. That is not exactly what the doctor ordered for a team that in recent years has made MLS Cup Final appearances look easy to achieve.
As for Saturday’s visitors, well, things could hardly have gone better for LAFC this season. After a mixture of bad luck, poor finishing and a few other errors here and there cost them a real tilt at the Western Conference title last season, the men in black have come out all guns blazing this time around. So much so that after 14 fixtures, they sit top of the Western Conference, four points ahead of their nearest challengers, who right now are the FC Dallas boys. Like their hosts, the visitors also arrive here off the back of a win last time out, while they too have won two on the bounce in MLS.
Lots to like
There’s been plenty to like about Seattle’s recent efforts on home soil. The hosts have won each of their last three at Lumen Field, scoring nine goals, conceding just two in the process. They’ve produced xG numbers of 2.7, 1.5 and 2.3, which tells us that they’ve made relatively light work of creating chances, and there’s been no shortage of end-product, which is not something that could be said during the early rounds of the campaign.
Saturday’s hosts have also done a solid job of preventing their opponents from getting serious in the final third, surrendering an average of 0.96 expected goals in those last three games at Lumen Field.
Trouble for travelers in this fixture
It has been a while since the away team triumphed in this fixture. When the teams last met, LAFC won on home soil, winning by three goals to nil, while the Sounders won the meeting prior to that, which took place at Lumen Field. Of the eight renewals of this fixture since 2020, four wins have gone Seattle’s way, while LAFC have picked up three wins. Only one of those seven wins has come away from the comforts of home, when LAFC ventured to Washington State and returned with all three points back in July 2020.
Since then, out of seven renewals, we’ve seen six home wins and one draw, so it’s fair to say that home advantage seems to be important when these two lock horns.
Stick with the hosts
On the face of it, there are some real similarities between what the Sounders have produced at home and what LAFC has produced on the road. For starters, they have accumulated the same number of points from the same number of games, while they’ve also scored and conceded a similar number of goals. The hosts have notched 12 and conceded six in six at home, while the visitors have scored 11 and conceded seven in six on their travels.
However, if we look their most recent efforts, a gap starts to appear, and it’s a gap that favors the hosts. As mentioned already in this preview, Seattle have won each of their last three at home, scoring nine goals, conceding two, while their average xG difference during that time is a very pleasing +1.20.
In contrast, LAFC haven’t won each of their last three on the road. They have scored only four goals during that time, have conceded three, while their average xG difference sits at -0.20. Therein lies the difference, and it is on this basis, that the home win stands out as the best option.
We really shouldn’t underestimate the potential absence of LAFC hitman Carlos Vela either. As good as this LAFC outfit is, and it is, Steve Cherundolo’s men simply aren’t the same without their talismanic captain who is expected to miss out thanks to an injury sustained during a recent cup game against bitter rivals Los Angeles Galaxy. Combine this with the above, and the Seattle Sounders become hard to oppose.
Peruvian to pounce
It hasn’t been the most straightforward campaign for Raul Ruidiaz, who came into the campaign carrying an injury and just wasn’t quite right for a while. He is now fit and firing on all cylinders once again. Seattle’s leading marksman has five MLS goals to his name, and he’s scored those five in his last five games, notching twice at this venue last time out. In fact, four of his five league goals have come at home, and it would be little surprise if the Peruvian pounced again following his recent exploits. With averages of 0.80 goals, 0.56 expected goals and 3.35 shots per 90 minutes, he’s not one to shy away from if a player prop is what you’re searching for, that’s for sure.
So these are the betting predictions and picks for this Sounders vs LAFC MLS game preview: