TUKWILA, Wash. – The Seattle Sounders have a score to settle.
Back on March 4, the Sounders played host to expansion side LAFC in their season opener at CenturyLink Field, hoping to kick off their 2018 campaign on a positive note against an opponent that had never played an MLS game. Instead, LAFC forward Diego Rossi shocked the home crowd with an 11th-minute golazo that stood as the difference in a history-making 1-0 victory for the visitors.
Now, the Sounders have a chance to return the favor, as they get set to make the trip for a big Western Conference road tilt with that same LAFC side on Sunday (9 pm ET; FS1 — Full TV & streaming info) – a fixture that will also be the first match played at the brand new Banc of California Stadium in downtown Los Angeles.
“I look at it as like, ‘Hey, let’s go ruin their party,’” Sounders forward Will Bruin told reporters at Seattle’s training session at Starfire Sports Complex on Wednesday. “They’re opening a new stadium, they want the result, they want a nice easy game. We can go in and play spoiler. I mean, to be honest, the pressure is on them. It’s the first game in their stadium, they don’t want to open [with a loss].”
Since that season-opening victory at CenturyLink, LAFC have kept on rolling. Their wild 5-3 victory over the Montreal Impact last weekend was their fourth victory in six matches away from home to start their MLS existence.
Many of those games have been of the shootout variety, too, with LAFC’s high-priced attack that features Rossi along with star Mexico international Carlos Vela already looking like one of the most formidable in MLS, but also standing in contrast to a work-in-progress defense that has shown a tendency to leak goals.
“You go to the Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] game [against the LA Galaxy], they’re up [3-0] and then they lose 4-3,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said on Wednesday. “You’re looking at Montreal, their last game, they’re down 3-1 and they come back. I mean, those are pretty not typical MLS games, I would say. It’s been crazy.”
Meanwhile, the Sounders stumbled to an 0-3-0 start in league play after getting unceremoniously knocked out of Concacaf Champions League. More recently, they have just found their footing in the last couple of weeks with a hard-fought 2-2 road draw at Sporting Kansas City on April 15 and a 3-1 home victory over Minnesota United on Sunday.
While Schmetzer agreed with Bruin that exacting some revenge on LAFC should be good for a bit of extra motivation, he said a strong result would also serve to help keep up that newly established momentum.
“I think [revenge] is in everybody’s mind,” Schmetzer said. “The players are competitive, they want to win. Would it be nice because it’s their opener and they spoiled our home opener? Sure, there’s a bit of revenge there. But at the end of the day, we need a good performance to give us a chance to win because we understand they’ll be pretty hyped up.”