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Odds taken from Bet365.
LAFC have started winning matches again, so they go into this match as heavy favorites. They haven’t really dominated the opposition in their last two games but have just gone back to basics. Vancouver Whitecaps, on the other hand, have been drawing far too many games: the last three in all competitions. The Whitecaps have also struggled away from home.
Playing LAFC away from home is one of the hardest fixtures of the season, so a draw will be considered a good result. There’s good value in picking a draw for this match, but we think LAFC will show their quality eventually. In recent games, their superior quality has made the difference, and it’s more visible when they’re playing at home.
LAFC have a good recent head-to-head record against the Whitecaps, but the Whitecaps have the better overall record. The Canadian side have won seven, lost four, and drawn three of their 14 matches against the reigning champions.
LAFC, however, have won three of the last five and beat the Whitecaps 6-0 on aggregate in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal earlier in the year; they won both legs 3-0. The second leg felt like a formality because the first leg, in many ways, had decided the tie.
Carlos Vela scored two first-half goals (8’ and 31’), with the first coming from the penalty spot, and Jose Cifuentes added another in the 65th minute to give LAFC a pretty commanding victory. The Whitecaps had more shots on goal, but that’s because LAFC took it easy after scoring their second of the day. We don’t think the upcoming match will be as one-sided but we think LAFC will come out on top again.
LAFC beat Seattle Sounders 1-0 over the weekend to go on top of the Western Conference table with a game to spare. The defending champions haven’t been at their best in recent weeks but got the job done against a strong Sounders side thanks to a first-minute goal from Mateusz Bogusz. LAFC took 14 shots to the Sounders’ 10 and had 48% of the possession.
This wasn’t a vintage LAFC performance – we haven’t had many in recent weeks – but it was good enough to get the job done. The performance was much better than the one against Sporting KC in the previous gameweek, which is a big positive, but we think LAFC are capable of putting in even better performances. This win will give them something to build on, and we expect them to get the job done against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Despite winning two on the bounce and topping the Western Conference table, LAFC haven’t really looked like the team that won the title last season. The loss in the CONCACAF Champions League final was succeeded by a draw, two losses, and two unconvincing wins. The win over Seattle Sounders was their most impressive result and performance in recent weeks, but it was still a level below what’s expected of them. Even though they were playing at home, they didn’t have a greater share of possession; possession isn’t everything, but there was a lot of conviction in the performance that could bite them later in the season.
Last season, there was no doubt that they were the best league side in the country. Philadelphia Union ran them close in the league and the finals, but there was a feeling that the best team came out on top. This season, the likes of St Louis FC and Cincinnati FC have looked just as good, if not better, at times. There’s also the looming threat of Inter Miami and Lionel Messi to watch out for.
It’s a cliche in most sports, but it’s stood the test of time: only the truly top sides defend their championship. Winning their first MLS title was a big step in the right direction, but they’re still considered the noisy neighbors in the city of Los Angeles; to be held in the same bracket as LA Galaxy – in terms of greatness – they need to build a dynasty, and they won’t build one if they play as they have in the last few matches.
Ryan Gauld’s 89th-minute penalty salvaged a vital point for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Cincinnati FC. This was a great result for the Canadian side, as Cincinnati FC have been the best team in the MLS this season.
It looked like Luciano Acosta’s 83rd-minute strike was going to give Cincinnati FC all three points, but the Whitecaps fought right till the end to earn a point, and you can’t say that they didn’t deserve it.
They went toe-to-toe with the Eastern Conference leaders till the final whistle. They took 11 shots to Cincinnati FC’s 10 and had a greater share of possession as well (54%). If they were a bit more clinical, they could’ve got all three points. If they put in a similar display against LAFC, there’s no reason why they can’t take something from the game, but playing away from home has been an issue all season for the Whitecaps.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have got some of the best underlying numbers in the Western Conference, but they’ve struggled to turn promising performances into results. The result against Cincinnati FC was a good example of the same.
They’ve got the second-highest expected goals in the Western Conference and the fifth-best expected goal against value in the league. Based on this information, they should be in third or fourth place on the table, not ninth.
Of course, there’s still a lot of time, and they’ve got a few games to spare, so don’t be surprised if they climb up the table in a few week’s time. They should make the playoffs, but the staff needs to look at why they haven’t been able to turn performances into results. This game has all the makings of another good performance with no rewards.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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