LOS ANGELES – It's the marquee matchup of Week 8 and possibly the MLS season to date: LAFC hosting the Seattle Sounders at Banc of California Stadium on Sunday (7 pm ET | FS1 in US, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).
LAFC head coach Bob Bradley will be excited for the contest for soccer-related reasons, but also to see an old friend.
“I’m obviously great friends with Preki,” the LAFC boss told reporters Friday.
A former MLS and US national team stalwart, Preki – born Predrag Radosavljevic – served as assistant coach with Bradley in 2006 at now-defunct Chivas USA. Shortly after, Bradley made the jump to the USMNT, sparking a 12-year managerial trot throughout the world, including stops in Europe and Africa before returning to MLS with LAFC.
During Bradley’s absence, the Seattle Sounders helped MLS usher in a new era with large crowds and spending. Now the Rave Green employ Preki as assistant coach to Brian Schmetzer.
“I met Brian [Schmetzer] years ago through Preki,” explained Bradley. “From the beginning, Seattle has still had a sense of what they want to do. There’s been real stability in the organization and I think that that’s a reason they’ve been successful.”
Few represent that stability more than Schmetzer. The Sounders’ head coach and Seattle native has been involved in the city’s professional soccer scene as far back as the 1980s. After seven seasons as an assistant, Schmetzer was named interim head coach following the departure of Sigi Schmid in 2016. He subsequently led Seattle to their first MLS Cup title several months later.
“I know that Brian’s a good guy and inside the club he’s just respected for being a down-to-Earth guy who’s just got the right mix of understanding the game and being humble,” said Bradley. “I think that shows in his teams.”
What kind of challenge could Schmetzer’s side present to Bradley’s?
“They are solid in all parts of the field,” Bradley said. “They like to push their outside backs high. Obviously Nicolas Lodeiro has a free role and goes everywhere to get on the ball and, in the process, they do a good job of pushing teams back. They play a lot of crosses in the box and they’re good on set pieces, long throw-ins, so all of those things.”
Sunday is the first of two matchups within a week between two teams vying for top spot of the Western Conference. The “return leg” comes the following Sunday at CenturyLink Field (3:30 pm ET | ESPN in US, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).