Los Angeles FC-Sounders Preview
Brian Schmetzer is wary of the threat Los Angeles FC pose to defending champions Seattle Sounders in their playoff opener.
The Sounders upset Supporters' Shield winners LAFC en route to taking the title in 2019, yet they are favorites at home in this year's match-up.
LAFC are a seventh seed but have last year's MVP Carlos Vela back fit again.
"None of these guys are going to take LAFC for granted," said Schmetzer. "Jordan [Morris] brought it up and referenced a game they were missing a load of players and we went down there and lost 3-1.
"This is MLS, this is crazy. Anything can happen. There's been playoff upsets, playoff drama throughout the years.
"It's never, ever, ever easy. Our team is too smart to let their guard down.
"Carlos is back. Carlos can carry a team on his back. You're going to have a motivated LAFC team come up here and try to do what we did to them down there.
"(Bob Bradley) is a great coach. He'll have his team ready. I need to make sure that we're ready for everything."
Although revenge could be on the mind for LAFC, coach Bradley said his players are excited.
"(This is) the challenge going into the playoffs, knowing that we start with Seattle, who knocked us out last year," Bradley said.
"We understand when you get to big games how concentration and small details count for so much. 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."
Seattle Sounders - Raul Ruidiaz
Ruidiaz proved the man for the big occasion as he scored twice against LAFC in the 2019 playoffs. With three goals in his final four games of the regular season, the Peru international is in the mood again heading into a rematch.
Los Angeles FC - Carlos Vela
Diego Rossi took the Golden Boot in MLS this season as LAFC became the first team to have winners in consecutive campaigns. But it is fit-again 2019 top scorer Vela who they will turn to now, needing their best player back on top form to take down the Sounders.
- This will be the fifth meeting of the season between Seattle and LAFC, including three league matches and one clash in the MLS is Back last 16. The home side won all three regular season contests (Seattle W2, LAFC W1), while LAFC knocked the Sounders out of the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando.
- This will be the third knockout meeting between Seattle and LAFC in the last two seasons. Seattle defeated LAFC at Banc of California Stadium in last season's Western Conference final, while LAFC won the last-16 meeting at MLS is Back.
- The Sounders have won their past 12 home playoff matches (one in extra time, one penalty shootout loss in a second leg) dating back to 2014. It is the longest home winning streak in MLS postseason history as no other team has won more than nine in a row.
- This will be LAFC's fourth playoff match but their first on the road. LAFC have won only one of their past 11 away matches dating back to September 2019 (D4 L6), including losing six of eight away matches this season (W1 D1).
- The Sounders were the only MLS team with multiple 10-goal scorers during the 2020 season (Ruidiaz, 12, and Jordan Morris, 10). Both Ruidiaz and Morris were especially dangerous at Lumen Field, scoring seven goals at home, tied with Gyasi Zardes for the most home goals in the league this season.
Updated November 23, 2020