For the most part, Major League Soccer's Western Conference playoffs have gone according to form.
That leaves the top-seeded Los Angeles Football Club to play host to the second-seeded Seattle Sounders on Tuesday night, with a berth in MLS Cup on the line.
LAFC set an MLS record by recording 72 points thanks to a 21-4-9 regular-season mark, with Carlos Vela winning the Golden Boot Award with 34 goals. Vela added 15 assists, giving him a league-record 49 points.
The Sounders were 16-10-8 in the regular season, finishing 16 points behind the Black & Gold. However, Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer won't be playing the underdog card in the conference final.
"All coaches will tell you it's easier to be the underdog," said Schmetzer, who guided the Sounders to back-to-back MLS Cup finals in 2016 and 2017, winning the title in the first of those years.
"You can just say, 'Oh, nobody expects you to win. The media expects you to lose,' and all that hoopla, and, 'Let's play the underdog role.' That's easy to coach. But in these situations, that's kind of old and tired. You need to come up with something else. The guys will already feel, 'OK, let's go.' For us, we'll take it as, 'OK, yeah, there might be some people that anointed LAFC, but that'll be the extent of it.' There's no chip on our shoulder. We think we can hang with them."
LAFC beat Seattle by 1-0 scores twice last year in its expansion season. The teams met twice this April. Los Angeles won 4-1 at home, and the teams played to a 1-1 draw in Seattle despite the Sounders being short-handed for most of the match after midfielder Cristian Roldan received a red card in the 18th minute.
"Seattle is always a good team, and it's been a long time since we played them," LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. "I think as the season progressed, they got stronger. You see their confidence. They are always a well-organized, solid team. So at this point
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