LAFC head coach Bob Bradley isn’t yet sure who will start at goalkeeper in Monday night’s Round of 16 matchup against the Seattle Sounders (11 pm ET | FS1, TUDN, FOX Deportes, UniMás; TSN, TVAS in Canada).
Pablo Sisniega, part of last year’s Supporters’ Shield-winning squad, has started LAFC’s last two matches. There’s also Kenneth Vermeer, the Dutch veteran who was acquired in January from Feyenoord with Targeted Allocation Money. But the latter was dropped from the XI after allowing three goals in back-to-back games, not quite securing his spot after Tyler Miller was traded last offseason to Minnesota United.
“I mentioned when we made the decision to start Pablo that we certainly brought Kenneth to our club with the idea that he can be an important player for us,” Bradley said in his pregame press conference. “He is still getting accustomed to the way we play and developing an understanding with the guys in the back. That went into the decision to give Pablo his opportunity.“
Whichever option Bradley goes with, they could be forced into action early and often. LAFC conceded first in all three of their Group F games at the MLS is Back Tournament – plus during a March 9 draw against the Philadelphia Union – with Bradley observing that they’ve mishandled plays when trying to establish control in the match’s early stages.
The Black and Gold have enough offensive weapons, even without Carlos Vela in Orlando, to claw their way back into matches. That resulted in a 1-0-2 record and rematch against Seattle, the defending MLS Cup champions who bounced LAFC from last year's Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
That back-and-forth is indicative of LAFC’s style, though, which Bradley takes great pride in. A goalkeeper decision nonetheless awaits, with Vermeer providing a few shaky moments and Sisniega allowing over 1.6 per games in eight career starts.
“We believe in the way we play,” Bradley said. “Our football is difficult for other teams to play against. It’s produced a lot of good moments and good wins. This part of the development to get to a higher level.
“The mentality of the players is important. They have to believe in what we’re doing and then on the field, leadership, stronger mentality and competing at a higher level. This is the kind of stuff we’ve got to keep asking and that’s how we’re trying to raise the bar for the entire group."