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Preview: Los Angeles FC vs. St Louis City

Preview: Los Angeles FC vs. St Louis City

Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Major League Soccer clash between Los Angeles FC and St Louis City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Los Angeles FC can close the gap between themselves and St Louis City atop the MLS Western Conference standings when both sides face each other on Wednesday at BMO Stadium.

The Black and Gold could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to the San Jose Earthquakes this weekend, dropping them down to third, five points behind St Louis, who are first in the west after getting past Toronto 1-0.

Match preview

Los Angeles FC (LAFC) midfielder Mateusz Bogusz (19) celebrates goal with teammates on June 21, 2023© Reuters

Uncharacteristically, LAFC have suffered a few more slip-ups than usual in recent weeks, claiming just a single point from their previous four league fixtures.

As a result, not only are they trailing in the race for first in the Western Conference, but this team now have Real Salt Lake level with them on points in fourth, with Austin FC, Dallas and the Quakes each just four points back, with LA using up almost all of their games in hand.

Their current four-match winless run is the longest they have gone without a triumph in this competition since Steve Cherundolo took charge, while a loss or draw against St Louis would extend their winless streak at home to three games, which would be the longest for this club since 2021 (three).

They have not led an MLS encounter since a Mateusz Bogusz strike in the opening minute gave them a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders late last month, with the Black and Gold unbeaten at home this season when netting first.

Another defeat for LA in this one would give them three at BMO Stadium this season, the most they will have suffered in this competition since 2021 (three).

After 21 regular-season fixtures the Black and Gold have triumphed nine times, five fewer than at this same stage a year ago while they have 33 points, a dozen fewer than what they had at this point of the 2022 campaign.

St Louis City midfielder Jared Stroud (8) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal on July 2, 2023© Reuters

Relentless pressing all over the field, a patient build-up, plus some calculated counter-attacks have equalled success for St Louis, who won a third straight domestic affair this past weekend.

Saturday was their first regular season victory in Canada, as this team are now just one triumph away from matching their longest winning run on the road in franchise history (three).

What Bradley Carnell has achieved as manager of this team in their inaugural campaign is nothing short of remarkable, as St Louis have accrued the most points by an MLS expansion side after 21 regular-season contests (38) while they continue to lead the league regarding goal difference (+16).

In their first Major League Soccer season, St Louis are unbeaten when scoring first, winning 10 of their 12 games this year when doing so, and if they can keep LA off the scoresheet on Wednesday, it would extend their shutout streak to three games, setting a new club record in the process.

Five of their seven defeats this season have occurred when conceding multiple times, while they have suffered a few late collapses away from home, allowing eight road goals in 2023 beyond the 70th minute.

This season, they have never earned a point when trailing at the half, though they have only been in that position once all season, when St Louis dropped a 1-0 decision at Soldier Field versus the Chicago Fire.

Los Angeles FC Major League Soccer form:

St Louis City Major League Soccer form:

Team News

Los Angeles FC forward Denis Bouanga (99) celebrates his goal with forward Kwadwo Opoku (22) after scoring on April 5, 2023© Reuters

Maxime Crepeau is back to training but is still a long ways away from returning to the LAFC lineup following his broken leg, Jesus Murillo and Sergi Palencia missed their match on Saturday with issues in their lower extremities, Aaron Long will be with the United States national team on Wednesday as they face Panama in the Gold Cup semi-finals, while the loan spell of Mamadou Fall at Villarreal has ended, making the Senegalese defender is eligible for selection with the Black and Gold pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

Denis Bouanga notched his 12th of the campaign, putting him one behind Hany Mukhtar in the Golden Boot race, while Kellyn Acosta wore the captain’s armband in place of Ilie Sanchez and Carlos Vela, both of whom began the match against the Goonies on the bench, while Jose Cifuentes made his 100th regular season appearance for the Black and Gold.

Kwadwo Opoku, who had eight goals for them in the 2022 regular season, was traded to CF Montreal last week for General Allocation Money (GAM), while Ryan Hollingshead has only scored once this year after netting six in his debut campaign for them a year ago.

Eduard Lowen will be questionable for St Louis because of a quad strain, Klauss missed another match last Saturday for that exact reason and Joakim Nilsson is still dealing with a knee injury.

Over the weekend, Aziel Jackson scored his first career MLS goal, Akil Watts collected his first-ever assist in this league and Roman Burki picked up his sixth clean sheet of the year and the 150th of his career.

The Swiss goalkeeper was selected to the MLS All-Star game at Audi Field in Washington DC along with teammate Tim Parker as the two of them will join other top players around the league when they battle Premier League runners-up Arsenal on July 19.

Los Angeles FC possible starting lineup:
McCarthy; Hollingshead, Maldonado, Chiellini, Palacios; Cifuentes, Sanchez, Duenas; Bouanga, Vela, Torres

St Louis City possible starting lineup:
Burki; Nerwinski, Bartlett, Parker, Hiebert; Blom; Ostrak, Stroud; Jackson; Gioacchini, Adeniran

SM words green background

We say: Los Angeles FC 2-0 St Louis City

The Black and Gold have continuously found ways to pick themselves back up when in a slump, and we expect a determined and solid all-around performance from them this week.

St Louis are happy to hang back and allow opposing teams easy access to their half of the field, but pressing effectively in the humid California conditions could be tricky, as could containing a side with a lot more depth and quality in the attacking third than their previous two opponents (the Colorado Rapids and Toronto).

How to watch

You can watch Los Angeles FC vs. St Louis City and every MLS match this season live on Apple TV. Click here for more details on how to subscribe.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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