LAFC entered the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs as the favorite to win the title before the Seattle Sounders upset Los Angeles in the Western Conference Final. Now, the two teams will clash again, this time in the opening round of the 2020 playoffs.
This time around, Seattle enjoys home-field advantage for the postseason encounter, having earned the second seed in the Western Conference.
LAFC Relishes Opportunity for Revenge
LAFC entered the 2020 season as the favorite to win the MLS Cup after its impressive 2019 season. But the team slipped to seventh place in the Western Conference this year, safely claiming a playoff spot, but failing to put together the kind of dominant run it had last year.
Dropping down that far forced Los Angeles into a tough first-round matchup, albeit one that gives the side a chance at revenge.
|MLS Cup Playoffs Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Toronto FC: +110||Draw: +220||Nashville SC: +230|
|Philadelphia Union: -120||Draw: +260||New England Revolution: +270|
|Seattle Sounders: +110||Draw: +260||LAFC: +190|
“The challenge going into the playoffs is knowing that we start with Seattle, who knocked us out last year,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said, via the team’s website. “You need guys to step up in these games and make a difference with their play. So the focus Is just on those things. I think the response of the group, the level of excitement, all those things are at a really high level right now.”
The teams have faced off four times this season in various competitions, with each team grabbing two wins. LAFC knocked Seattle out of the MLS is Back Tournament with an emphatic 4-1 win in the Round of 16, and also won the most recent match on Oct. 11 by a 3-1 score.
Vela’s Return Boosts LA’s Chances
Seattle comes into the playoffs as the defending MLS Cup champions, but the Sounders are well aware of the danger that LAFC poses. Los Angeles played much of the season without 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela, who missed time both to injury and to quarantine. Now, Seattle faces a full-strength LAFC squad that has eyes on making a deep postseason run.
“None of these guys are going to take LAFC for granted,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said, via SoundersFC.com. “This is MLS, this is crazy. Anything can happen. There’s been playoff upsets, playoff drama. It’s never, ever, ever easy. Our team is too smart to let their guard down.”
FanDuel Sportsbook pegs the Sounders as a +110 pick to win in regulation against LAFC (+190). But no matter who wins this game, the victor will be seen as a serious threat to win the MLS Cup.
“Championships are what we strive for,” Seattle forward Jordan Morris said. “Making the playoffs is great, but our whole mindset as a team going into each year is that we want to win [the] MLS Cup. Anything less is not going to be a success.”
The first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs will wrap up on Tuesday, after which, only eight teams will remain in contention for the trophy. In other Tuesday action, Toronto FC (+110) hosts Nashville SC (+230), while the Philadelphia Union (-120) take on the New England Revolution (+270).