LAFC vs Real Salt Lake: MLS Playoff Preview

LAFC will play their first ever MLS Playoff game on Thursday when they take on Real Salt Lake in the Knockout Round match.

Previous History

These clubs have faced off with each other on two previous occasions, both resulting in LAFC victories.

In the expansion sides second ever match, they blew the roof off of Rio Tinto Stadium, winning 5-1.

Then, they followed that up with a 2-0 win at home at the beginning of August.

So, what does this mean? Absolutely nothing and here is why.

After the second defeat to LAFC, RSL found a bit of form heading into the playoffs. They won three matches in a row, while scoring a whopping 14 goals during that stretch.

While they cooled off in recent weeks, the visiting club can still cause LAFC all sorts of fits with their multi-pronged attack.

Tactical formations

Expect Bob Bradley to field a 4-3-3 formation at the Banc of California Stadium. Bradley tested other tactical formations throughout the season, but this is one that gets the most out of the squad.

If these past couple of weeks were any indication, this will be LAFC’s starting lineup:

Miller; Harvey, Zimmerman, Silva, Beitashour; Nguyen, Atuesta, Feilhaber; Rossi, Diomande, Vela

For RSL, they like lining up in a 4-2-3-1, with one lone striker. But Mike Petke can move around his players like puzzle pieces, aligning them just so according to opponent.

This should be RSL’s starting lineup against LAFC:

Rimando; Herrera, Glad, Silva, Lennon; Sunny, Beckerman; Plata, Severino, Rusnak; Kreilach

Key players

Carlos Vela is LAFC’s most influential player without question.

During his first MLS campaign, he was eighth in goals scored and 10th in the league in assists with 13 assists. He will look to lead the attack from the right side, but Vela has the freedom to roam the pitch if need be.

“We’ve exceeded the expectations everyone had for us,” Vela told media after practice.

“Now here we are fighting for a title. And obviously it’s a do-or-die game. We have to win.”

Damir Kreilach, the 29-year-old Croatian forward, is RSL’s most potent attacker.  Kreilach can beat you in a variety of different ways and is extremely effective with his shot.

On only 27 shots on goal, he has scored 12 times, good enough for a 44% conversion rate. If he gets a couple of attempts away, Kreilach should be able to find the back of the net at least once.

How to watch

This match will kick off at 7:30 PM. It can be watched on ESPN2 and streamed through watchESPN.

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