Gareth Bale could see biggest workload yet when LAFC host Seattle Sounders

Gareth Bale's acclimation with LAFC remains a work in progress, but the Welsh star could receive his biggest workload yet when the Black & Gold host Seattle Sounders FC at Banc of California Stadium on Friday evening (11 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes).

The 33-year-old has made two appearances since joining LAFC as a midseason blockbuster arrival, totaling 43 minutes as a substitute and scoring his first MLS goal in last weekend's 2-0 road victory over Sporting Kansas City. He debuted in mid-July during a 2-1 win at Nashville SC.

While bringing Bale along cautiously is still paramount, head coach Steve Cherundolo said Wednesday an expanded role could await the former Real Madrid and Tottenham star.

"He's getting better," Cherundolo said before Bale's likely home debut. "It's a preseason [for him], so in preseason your body sometimes goes through bad days and good days, a little shock to the nervous system, some sore days, and we're constantly improving him. We're on track.

"I think he'll be in position to add minutes to what we saw last week. But at a healthy pace, not too much too soon, I think we can add [minutes]. I'd prefer not to put a number on that, but I think we can add to what we had last game."

Bale's continued integration comes as LAFC look to maintain their position as Supporters' Shield frontrunners, with the club atop the league table heading into Week 23 with 45 points from 21 matches. To keep it rolling, they'll have to contend with a Seattle side that star attacker Carlos Vela said should present a good measuring stick.

The Sounders have struggled in recent weeks in league play, but are coming off a galvanizing 2-1 home victory over the Colorado Rapids that saw Seattle win despite playing the majority of the second half with 10 men.

"As you know, Seattle is a big team in this league," Vela said. "They won the Concacaf Champions [League], so for us it's a big test because if you want to win the championship, you have to beat the best teams in the league.

" … For us every single game is important because we want to win the Supporters' Shield, we want to win MLS Cup. So we have to focus on doing our job and play as best we can and get points."

The Western Conference sides have met once previously in 2022 – a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Lumen Field back on June 18 that saw Albert Rusnak's opener canceled out by Cristian Arango's equalizer.

A rivalry of sorts has emerged between the marquee clubs, with Seattle taking both Audi MLS Cup Playoffs games in years past.

"Even before arriving at the club, I was watching a few games and these games are always intense, always [big] occasions for both teams," said goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who was formerly with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

"So, it will be a nice set-up: I mean, it's 8 pm kickoff, Banc of California, Friday night – it's a perfect layout for it, two good teams going at each other. We've worked well during the week, but they're going to come here to spoil the party, so we want to make sure we get our little details right, the right things under control and play our football so we have a good night on Friday."