New on Sports Illustrated: Los Angeles FC-Sounders Preview

August 29, 2020 at 02:05AM

As MLS plans its likely return to action this weekend, Los Angeles FC must again figure out how to move forward without their biggest star.

With Carlos Vela hindered by a knee injury, visiting LAFC takes on the rival Seattle Sounders on Sunday night.

Both teams are slated to be back in action this weekend, after their respective matches from Wednesday were boycotted in the wake of the unrest and violence following the police shooting of black 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. LAFC defender Mark-Anthony Kaye has been one of the more vocal players on the subject.

"Human lives mean more the sports!" Kaye posted on his official Twitter site. He also added on the site: "What's going on in the world is not acceptable."

The Sounders, meanwhile, also spoke out about the current racial and social injustice issues around the United States, and MLS players showing awareness by their actions earlier this week.

"I fully support the players' decision," coach Brian Schmetzer told the Sounders' official website. "As an American citizen, it is clear to me that our country is incredibly divided, and it saddens me that some people seem not to understand the importance of this movement."

Back on the pitch, secondary storyline at the moment for this match is the health of Vela, the league's reigning MVP. Opting out of the "MLS is Back Tournament," Vela has played just three league matches in 2020 and was injured during LAFC's 2-0 loss to the rival Los Angeles Galaxy last week.

The official diagnosis is a Grade 2 MCL sprain, and, according to LAFC, there is not timetable of his return.

"Often times with an MCL, the player is able to start running straight ahead pretty quickly," coach Bob Bradley told LAFC's official website. "But, the timeframe is really determined as he gets into more cutting, striking the ball, as to how long it'll take."

In the meantime, LAFC (2-1-3) must find a way to bounce back from its first official loss of the season. However, Los Angeles should have some confidence after beating the Sounders 4-1 in the round of 16 at the MLS is Back Tournament. LAFC's Diego Rossi recorded a brace in a match that does not count toward the regular-season standings.

However, the Sounders (3-1-2) returned to action from the event in positive form through a 3-0 victory over rival Portland last weekend. Raul Ruidiaz had two goals and assisted on Kelvin Leerdam's late score in a needed pick-me-up performance by the Sounders.

Ruidiaz has a team-leading four official goals for Seattle. Rossi, meanwhile, has scored six official times for LAFC.

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