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Ilie Sanchez set to face old squad with surging LAFC

Mar 20, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Ilie Sanchez (6) passes the ball during the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Banc of California Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles FC looks to stay in first place in the Western Conference with three points from a win Sunday afternoon at home against struggling Sporting Kansas City.

With 14 goals in six matches and a 4-1-1 (13 points) record, LAFC had been undefeated until a 2-1 loss to the LA Galaxy last weekend.

Sunday marks the first game for LAFC midfielder Ilie Sanchez against his former team. Sanchez spent the past five seasons with Sporting KC.

“Ilie was a great person and great player for this club for the years he was here,” Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes told the Los Angeles Daily News. “He always had a tremendous mentality and attitude. I can’t say anything but great things about him.

“He brought an incredible amount of professionalism to our club.”

Carlos Vela is LAFC’s leading scorer with four goals. But Sporting KC has held the Mexican star to two goals and one assist in six matches between the two teams in which Vela has played.

For Sporting Kansas City (2-5-0, 6 points), being near the bottom of the standings is unfamiliar territory for a team that has in recent years been a conference title contender. The team has lost four of its last five matches and has scored a total of five goals in seven games this season.

The five goals were the lowest total in MLS going into this weekend, shared with four other teams.

Two veterans for the club have milestones near at hand. Graham Zusi is inching toward his 330rd career appearance in MLS competition (327), and Roger Espinoza is just behind him at 293.

Going back to last season, Sporting KC has lost each of their last six road matches, the league’s longest active losing streak.

“Our team expectation is to be winning every single game, Espinoza told the Kansas City Star. “We owe it to the fans, to the media, and that’s our expectation here. I want to start winning soon.”

–Field Level Media