MLS Western Conference leaders Los Angeles FC return to action this weekend as they make the trip to Lumen Field to face the Seattle Sounders.
This represents an intriguing encounter with the home side boasting the better form heading into Saturday's game and their visitors sitting top of the Western Conference.
RealSport101's Harry Smith is on hand to preview this mouth-watering MLS clash below.
Seattle Sounders vs Los Angeles FC Team News
Brian Schmetzer has a fairly straightforward job selecting his Seattle Sounders starting XI for the visit of Los Angeles FC this weekend. The hosts have just two confirmed absentees for Saturday's clash with Joao Paulo and Yelmar Gomez both ruled out, while Stefan Cleveland is a doubt.
Expect an unchanged starting XI from the Sounders this weekend with winger Jimmy Medranda and striker Fredy Montero both expected to retain their places following an emphatic 4-0 home win against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Los Angeles FC boss Steven Cherundolo could make one change to the side that edged out a 3-2 against San Jose Earthquakes with Danny Crisostomo pushing to replace defensive midfielder Francisco Ginella.
The major area of contention surrounds the fitness of star winger Carlos Vela. The forward is edging closer to a first-team return after suffering a thigh injury, but doubts remain over his fitness heading into the weekend. Cherundolo could choose not to rush the Mexican back this weekend with Brian Rodriguez retaining his place up top.
Seattle Sounders: Joao Paulo, Yelmar Gomez
Los Angeles FC: Diego Palacios, Julian Gaines, Erik Duenas
Seattle Sounders (4-4-2): Frei; Roldan, Ragen, Arreaga, Rowe; Medranda, Lodeiro, Vargas, Chu; Rudiaz, Montero
Los Angeles FC (3-4-1-2): Crepeau; Ibeagha, Fall, Sanchez; Acosta, Cifuentes, Crisostomo, Hollingshead; Blessing; Rodriguez, Arango
Seattle Sounders vs Los Angeles FC Score Prediction
Seattle Sounders enjoyed the perfect warmup for this game on Wednesday when they thrashed a struggling Vancouver Whitecaps side 4-0 on home turf. Brian Smeltzer's side endured a rocky start to the season but are finding their stride. They welcome the Western Conference leaders to Lumen Field having won four of their last five MLS games.
The Sounders have won three consecutive games on home turf, beating Minnesota United, Charlotte FC and the Whitecaps in the process, but this represents their sternest test. With a nearly fully-fit squad, this will be an interesting encounter from a Seattle Sounders perspective as they look to cement a playoff place.
Los Angeles FC have been a cut above the rest in the Western Conference this season and recovered from a mini-wobble in the buildup to the international break, recording back-to-back MLS wins against Columbus Crew and San Jose Earthquakes.
The visitors have won just two of their last four league games away from home, but their overall standing will be of comfort to LAFC fans. Steven Cherundolo's side is four points clear at the top of the Western Conference, and in Carlos Vela, they have one of MLS' biggest talents on the books.
Score Prediction: Seattle Sounders 2-2 Los Angeles
Harry Smith's Tip: Over 2.5 goals
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