In pictures: LAFC open Banc of California Stadium with dramatic late win over Sounders

LAFC 1-0 Seattle Sounders – A historic day for Los Angeles FC ended in Hollywood style as Laurent Ciman struck a 93rd-minute winner to lead the hosts to a 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders.

LAFC fans have waited a long time to watch their team play at home and they made the occasion a special one. Their support was rewarded with almost the final kick of the game, with the hosts moving back into 2nd place in the West, just two points behind Sporting Kansas City.

Seattle will be incredibly frustrated to have lost 1-0 to the expansion side for the second time this season. They did create chances, with Steven Beitashour’s goal line clearance in the first-half proving to be a pivotal moment. The defeat leaves Seattle rock bottom of the West with just four points from six games.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s historic game below, courtesy of Denise McCooey, John May and Hazel May.

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LAFC vs Seattle Sounders | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Los Angeles FC vs Seattle Sounders

Banc of California Stadium – Sunday, April 29 2018 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

LAFC vs Seattle Sounders: Preview

Los Angeles FC are finally set for their first ever home game in Major League Soccer. The expansion side welcome Seattle Sounders to Banc of California Stadium on Sunday night for the first ever game in the brand new stadium.

LAFC have opened the 2018 season with six-straight road games. Their return of four wins from those games is mighty impressive but now they have to try and instantly settle into their new home as they play in front of their own fans for the first time.

They opened their season against Sunday’s opponents, picking up a historic victory as Diego Rossi struck the only goal in a 1-0 win at CenturyLink Field on opening weekend. Another win here would keep LAFC in second place in the West after a fine start to life in MLS.

The Seattle Sounders took five games but they finally have their first win of the season. They beat Minnesota United 3-1 last Sunday and will be hoping to get revenge over LAFC after that opening day loss in which former Sounder Tyler Miller made an incredible seven saves.

Seattle are still rooted to the bottom of the West as we enter Week 9 but they have played just five games – the fewest in the conference – so have plenty of time to turn things around. Brian Schmetzer does have big decisions to make however, after starting both Clint Dempsey and Magnus Wolff Eikrem on the bench last weekend.

LAFC vs Seattle Sounders: Team News

Los Angeles FC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Joao Moutinho (left quad strain).

🚑 Out: Luis Lopez (right tibial stress fracture).

Seattle Sounders

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Kim Kee-Hee (right calf strain), Waylon Francis (right hamstring strain), Victor Rodriguez (right knee sprain).

🚑 Out: Jordan Morris (torn ACL), Harry Shipp (ankle sprain).

LAFC vs Seattle Sounders: Key Stats

LAFC’s MLS form: W/L/L/W/W

Seattle Sounders’ MLS form: L/L/L/D/W

Key stat: Seattle Sounders have still yet to keep a clean sheet this season, despite being joint-leaders in clean sheets in 2017.

LAFC vs Seattle Sounders: Prediction

Los Angeles FC 3-1 Seattle Sounders: This one should be special. An incredible atmosphere is expected inside the brand new Banc of California Stadium on Sunday night as LAFC make their home debut. They have shown how dangerous they are in and around the box and should put on a show for their fans. Seattle Sounders got up and running last weekend but ultimately don’t look to be in a position to ruin the party here. Home win.

In pictures: Vancouver Whitecaps 0-2 LAFC – Visitors end Whitecaps’ 11-game home streak

The Vancouver Whitecaps saw their 11-game unbeaten run at BC Place come to an end on Friday night as LAFC snapped a two-game losing streak, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. Vancouver have now lost back-to-back MLS games for the first time in over a year.

LAFC forward Marcos Urena assisted both goals, further highlighting how important he is to the expansion side. Vela and Rossi might be making headlines, but Urena is a vital threat in his own right.

Vancouver will be disappointed not to have found the net for the second-straight home game. They remain second after Friday’s result, but LAFC are just a point behind and have played two games fewer.

Bob Bradley’s men have one more away game – a trip to Montreal next week – before they make their long-anticipated home debut at Banc of California Stadium.

Check out exclusive photos from Friday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer, Simon Fearn.

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Atlanta United vs LAFC | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Atlanta United vs LAFC

Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Saturday, April 7th 2018 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football

Atlanta United vs LAFC: Preview

Atlanta United take on LAFC on Saturday evening in what is surely of the most anticipated fixtures of the season. They are two of the most attacking sides in the league and will go head-to-head in front of a sell-out crowd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in their first ever meeting.

Atlanta have bounced back from a shock 4-0 opening day defeat at Houston by winning three-straight games. They now sit third in the Eastern Conference and are looking set to challenge at the very top of the standings this season.

Last weekend’s 1-0 win at Minnesota showed a different side to Atlanta. They are known for blowing teams away with their skillful play and attacking intent. But Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was sent off after 38 minutes, so Atlanta had to dig deep to hold onto their 1-0 lead for almost an hour.

LAFC could have done with some of that defensive quality after leading 3-0 away at LA Galaxy in the first Los Angeles derby between the new rivals. But inexperience and the introduction of Zlatan Ibrahimovic saw LAFC concede four goals in 30 minutes to suffer their first MLS defeat.

They looked well on track to keep their 100% record intact after leading 3-0 but Bob Bradley will undoubtedly be concerned with the way his team fell apart, especially in a game of that magnitude.

LAFC have the chance to bounce back in another showcase game here, but that will be a real tough task. The Five Stripes have scored seven goals in their two home games so far this season and will be looking to exploit the LAFC defence after last week’s collapse.

Atlanta United vs LAFC: Team News

Atlanta United

❌ Suspensions: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (red card).

❓ Doubts: Jeff Larentowicz (ankle).

🚑 Out: Ezequiel Barco (quad strain), Franco Escobar (head), Jose Hernandez (quad strain), Mitch Hildebrandt (left knee), Andrew Carleton (upper respiratory infection).

LAFC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Luis Lopez (right leg fracture), Omar Gaber (right knee sprain).

Atlanta United vs LAFC: Key Stats

Atlanta United’s MLS form: L/W/W/W

Los Angeles FC’s MLS form: W/W/L

Key stat: Atlanta United have scored at least two goals in each of their past ten regular season games at home. They have still never failed to score at home in a regular season game.

Atlanta United vs LAFC: Prediction

Atlanta United 4-3 LAFC: Goals, goals, goals. These two sides love to attack and will surely set up to try and outscore each other. If either side can get on the scoresheet early, it will open the game up, so expect this one to be one of the games of the weekend. LAFC’s collapse at the Galaxy last week showed they are vulnerable when the pressure ramps up and the atmosphere in Atlanta should give the home side a slight edge.

LA Galaxy vs LAFC | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: LA Galaxy vs Los Angeles FC

StubHub Center – Saturday, March 31st 2018 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football (via red button) & Sky Sports Mix

LA Galaxy vs LAFC: Preview

It’s LA Galaxy vs LAFC. It’s the first derby clash between the new rivals and it’s the most anticipated game of the weekend. The two sides will face off in what’s unofficially being called El Trafico. Oh, and to make things even more interesting, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is available for his MLS debut.

LA Galaxy return home for the first time since opening weekend. The good news is that their only win of the campaign so far came on home soil. The bad news is they haven’t won since. A 2-1 loss away at NYCFC was followed by a 0-0 draw at Vancouver last weekend, but that point has to be seen as a good result, particularly as LA dressed just 17 players.

Still, they’ve only played three games and none of that really matters ahead of a derby game. Even if it is the first-ever meeting in what is sure to develop into one of Major League Soccer’s hottest rivalries. The fact that Ibrahimovic is available to make his debut makes this all the more of a spectacle. Saturday’s game won’t just be a big deal in Los Angeles, but across the world.

Standing in the opposite corner are the new guys who have made one hell of an impression so far. LAFC have only played two games in their short MLS history. Yet, they’ve won both games and have scored six goals. Oh, and both games have come on the road if that wasn’t impressive enough.

Atlanta United set a precedent with the explosive start to life in MLS they made last season. LAFC have gone one better and have smashed the benchmark through the roof. They already seem to have an identity. Bob Bradley has his side well drilled and they will undoubtedly be hungry to keep their 100% record intact beyond Saturday’s huge clash.

It could be an extra boost that they’ve had three weeks to prepare for this game after back-to-back bye weeks. They’ve still been busy off the field though as Andre Horta has joined as the third Designated Player. However, the 21-year-old midfielder is unlikely to join up with LAFC until the summer.

LA Galaxy vs LAFC: Team News

LA Galaxy

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Giovani dos Santos (hamstring), Jonathan dos Santos (hamstring), Michael Ciani (groin).

🚑 Out: Romain Alessandrini (hamstring), Bradford Jamieson IV (concussion).

LAFC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Omar Gaber (groin), Calum Mallace (knee).

🚑 Out: Luis Lopez (leg), Walker Zimmerman (hamstring).

LA Galaxy vs LAFC: Key Stats

LA Galaxy’s MLS form: W/L/D

LAFC’s MLS form: W/W

Key stat: LA Galaxy are unbeaten in their last three home games in MLS, scoring six and conceding just two. That comes after a run that saw them lose six of their previous eight home games.

LA Galaxy vs LAFC: Prediction

LA Galaxy 1-3 LAFC: Goals are expected here as both sides will be desperate to stamp their authority down. The stars from both sides should be out and with or without Ibrahimovic on the field, LA Galaxy have weapons to hurt LAFC. That said, LAFC have looked incredibly dangerous so far and there’s no reason they can’t spoil the Galaxy’s party with another huge road win on Saturday.

MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 2 – LAFC forward makes it 3 in 2

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

Los Angeles FC made it two wins from their first two MLS games. Their 5-1 victory away against RSL has sent shockwaves through Major League Soccer – they’ve turned up and mean business in their debut season. It was another impressive team display, which was far more attacking focused than their victory on opening weekend. Those who were able to see events unfold were treated to a star performance from Diego Rossi, who is MLSGB’s Attacking Player of the Week.

Ten minutes after falling behind, Rossi levelled things up for his side on the 30th minute. His influence in the game saw him involved in all five goals, playing a key part in the build up for LAFC’s second and third. Rossi went on to net his second of the game in the final ten minutes, just before laying on an assist to fellow forward Carlos Vela.

Confidence is there for all to see for LAFC, highlighted by the number of shots they had (21), Rossi with six of those. He also completed both of his attempted take-ons during his 89 minutes on the field.

Don’t miss – MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 2

Rossi has started his MLS career in some style. LAFC are sitting top of the Western Conference and the Supporters’ Shield standings after that week two performance. Next up it’s the first instalment of the LA derby as they face rivals LA Galaxy, which looks set to to be a monumental occasion.

The five best Mexicans in MLS to watch in 2018

With the 2018 MLS season underway there is plenty of exciting action each week to keep you entertained. The league is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. More top-rated players are joining each season, highlighting an increasing desire to be involved in Major League Soccer. We’ve picked out the five best Mexicans in MLS to watch this season and what they bring to their side.

Carlos Vela – LAFC

The new boys for 2018, LAFC, picked up an impressive win in their first ever MLS outing away at Seattle. At the heart of that performance was Carlos Vela. Many Premier League fans will know of Vela from his time at Arsenal and brief spell at West Brom.

Although his time in England didn’t quite meet high expectations, the 29-year-old forward is a full international and has come to MLS off the back of the most consistent spell of his career. He is going to be one to watch this season.

Giovani Dos Santos – LA Galaxy

Arguably one of the most naturally gifted players in MLS. Giovani Dos Santos is in his fourth season with LA Galaxy, having scored 23 goals in 64 games. He has played for the likes of FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Villarreal – so has plenty of experience to his name.

At 28 he has a lot to offer LA Galaxy, including the ability to change a game at any moment. Dos Santos plays in a number of attacking roles and will be hoping to spearhead his side to better fortunes this season after a disappointing 2017.

Jonathan Dos Santos – LA Galaxy

Younger brother of Gio, Jonathan Dos Santos is also at LA Galaxy. He has made 29 appearances for the national team so far but fans haven’t yet seen his full potential in MLS as this will be his first full season.

The 27-year-old midfielder plays in a deeper role than his brother, but similarly can fit into a number of different roles.

Victor Ulloa – FC Dallas

The most experienced of the Mexicans in MLS in terms of appearances. Victor Ulloa has played 117 games since joining FC Dallas in 2011. A Homegrown player who has made a name for himself anchoring the Dallas midfield.

Although Ulloa isn’t always a guaranteed name on the team sheet, he is reliable and ready when called upon. At 26 he is yet to be called up for the Mexican side, but that is no reflection on his qualities.

Efrain Juarez – Vancouver Whitecaps

Signed from Monterrey using Targeted Allocation Money in January 2018, Efrain Juarez is a versatile option. He has played as a right back over the last few seasons, but is likely to be used as a central midfielder at Vancouver Whitecaps.

Juarez made his debut in the middle of the park in week one. Fans will hope his experience can help the Whitecaps go one step further this season to top the Western Conference.

Are these the five best Mexicans in MLS – who else should have made the cut?

Second choice Sounders fall 1-0 to expansion side LAFC after slow start

Los Angeles FC shocked many in MLS on Sunday, winning their first ever match 1-0 despite playing on the road to Seattle Sounders FC. The newcomers defended well against the back-to-back defending Western Conference champs and scored just 11 minutes in to take a lead they wouldn’t surrender. Seattle played a lineup without Clint Dempsey available and Chad Marshall on the bench as coach Brian Schmetzer looked to give some of his top players rest for their CONCACAF Champions League match versus Guadalajara on Wednesday.

LAFC started the game by pressuring Seattle on the ball and attacked the defence continuously. Diego Rossi terrorised the Sounder centre-halfs for the majority of the match by timing curved runs between them as passes were hit. His goal would come from a perfectly weighted ball from Carlos Vela as he got a step inside Jordy Delem before finishing a wonderful strike past Stefan Frei.

Christian Roldan admitted after the match that, “historically we dont show up for the first 20 minutes… when something happens – they hit the post, they score a goal, they get a good chance – and then we start playing well.” Defensively Seattle was asleep on the Rossi goal as they were all a step slow in reacting to LAFC. In trying to pressure the ball, Seattle pulled themselves out of position to allow space for Rossi to get behind them and ultimately punish Seattle for it.

Don’t miss – In pictures: Seattle Sounders 0-1 LAFC

The Sounders did wake up after the goal, almost scoring just minutes later as Nouhou unleashed a shot to the far post but former Sounder Tyler Miller made a great save to push the shot wide. Miller would continue to frustrate Seattle as he made a number of crucial saves and was very confident defending corners. Seattle had 12 corners in the match including four in a row at one point but couldn’t break down the LA defence to draw level.

For all of the chances Seattle created in their 22 shots, they lacked the concentration to finish the opportunities. Schmetzer listed a number of different chances after the match saying, “there were a ton of chances created so I wouldn’t say that it’s from a lack of execution, I would say it’s from lack of that last piece of concentration to put the ball in the back of the net.” Will Bruin’s chance in the 56th minute showcased that lack of concentration as he skied a pass to him from just outside the six-yard box.

Even with a second choice lineup on the field, Seattle were still able to create lots of chances and control the match. While disappointing to lose to an expansion side at home in the season opener, there’s little reason for concern after just one match. Clearly Sounders came into the match with one eye on the midweek fixture against Chivas de Guadalajara and have prioritised that tournament for now. Seattle returns to play on Wednesday as they host Guadalajara before traveling to Mexico for the second leg a week later.

MLS debutants run riot on opening weekend

The opening weekend of MLS has set the tone for the rest of the season. There was plenty of drama with goals, video assistant referees, red cards and shock results. However, one astonishing stat that has come from week one was from MLS debutants.

A total of 26 goals were scored across the ten games with nine of those coming from debutants – which equates to 35% of the goals scored on opening weekend.

What makes it all the more impressive is that all nine goal scorers came from different clubs, adding to the excitement.

WATCH 📹 – Take a look at all nine debutant goals from week one

MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 1 – LAFC stalwart leads by example

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that our defensive pick of the week comes from Los Angeles FC‘s stunning away win over Seattle Sounders. They become just the second expansion side to win their first away game in Major League Soccer history.

LAFC’s 1-0 saw an impressive collective performance. They were clean and simple on the ball and defended well when they didn’t have possession, as well as welcoming a little bit of good fortune at times.

A standout performance at the heart of the LAFC defence came from Lauren Ciman. The 2015 Defender of the Year has plenty of MLS experience under his belt and he remained calm at all times of the game. He made crucial blocks and chose to bring the backline up to press at the right time, while marshalling them to drop back and clear their lines when it was necessary.

How did Laurent Ciman perform in numbers? 

Ciman played the full 90 minutes as you’d expect from a centre half. In that time he made four interceptions to stop attacks, blocked two shots including a close-range effort, made six clearances and held a positive 75% pass accuracy.

His crucial block from a goal-bound Harry Shipp kept the score at 1-0 in the first half, which was a game-changing phase of play. Had Seattle scored at that point to level things it could have swung the momentum out of LAFC’s favour.

https://twitter.com/JogaBonito_USA/status/970434433940643840

Don’t miss – MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 1

Ciman’s performance was exactly what was needed from him as a captain and the LAFC faithful will be hoping to see that continue on a weekly basis. A thoroughly good, history making weekend for the MLS new comers and one for the fans to remember.