Los Angeles Football Club will try to continue its impressive start to its second MLS season when it welcomes an FC Cincinnati side on Saturday night that some say has exceeded expectations so far in its first.
LAFC (5-0-1, 16 points) are the early leaders in the Supporters' Shield behind a sensational start from Mexican international Carlos Vela.
In his second season in Los Angeles, Vela has seven goals and four assists, opening the possibility that he could be the first player in league history to exceed 20 in both categories in the same season.
Diego Rossi also has six goals following his hat trick in LAFC's dominant 4-0 win last Saturday over a D.C. United team that began last weekend leading the Eastern Conference.
Despite an embarrassment of attacking riches, however, coach Bob Bradley isn't about to write off a team that has handled expansion as well as Saturday's opponent.
"They're very athletic, they're organized, and so we expect them to come in with a real game plan," Bradley said. "It's never easy coming out of the blocks the right way, and I think FC Cincinnati deserves a lot of credit."
Cincinnati (2-2-2, 8 points) are in a three-way tie for fifth in the Eastern Conference roughly 20 percent of the way through their maiden MLS campaign.
In last weekend's 1-1 draw vs. Sporting Kansas City, Darren Mattocks scored his first goal for Cincy in his second start for the club, in place of Fanendo Adi, who was suspended because of an arrest for drunk driving.
Mattocks is coming off one of the least talked about 10-goal seasons in MLS history, after he eventually fell out of favor at D.C. United last year with the arrival of former Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney.
Adi is no longer suspended, but Mattocks hopes to remain involved in coach Alan Koch's plans after opening his account.
"It eased the nerves a little bit," Mattocks said. "So, it's just picking up where I left off. Continuing creating chances for the team, and hopefully continuing scoring."