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LAFC returns home to host New England Revolution

Aug 19, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles FC midfielder Lee Nguyen (24) celebrates with midfielder Benny Feilhaber (33) after scoring a goal in the 49th minute against the Colorado Rapids at Banc of California Stadium. LAFC defeated Colorado 2-0. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

LOS ANGELES — In its first match home at Banc of California stadium this month, LAFC will take on the New England Revolution at 10:30 p.m. ET Saturday. The Revs (8-9-10, 33 points) will look to press high and attack early to notch a significant road win in the final stretch of their playoffs bid.

For LAFC (13-7-7, 46 points), the biggest threat to shut down will be Cristian Penilla, a dangerous winger who has already notched 11 goals and eight assists this year.

The New England team is still three points below the cut-off line for the playoffs, but it has plenty of opportunities to make that distance up in the final two months of the season. A win on the road will be vital, however, in that quest.

Although LAFC has secured a spot at the top of the conference, the team is still jockeying for the top slot with FC Dallas and Sporting KC. Currently in the No. 3 ranking in the Western Conference, LAFC must secure its home field to continue to climb for a prime postseason position.

The playoffs pressure would be enough to make the game an intense match, but there will be added excitement for Lee Nguyen, who is facing his former team for the first time since he was traded in May.

The Revs were Nguyen’s first and only team in MLS before LAFC, but his final season in New England was fraught with controversy and negotiations before he was finally traded. Since joining the black and gold, Nguyen has netted three goals and he’ll be looking to add another against his former club.

“For me, it’s going to be business,” Nguyen said. “But at the same time, yeah, it’ll probably be a little bit sweeter if we get those three points.”

On Friday, Adama Diomande was marked questionable for the game, nursing a strain in his left adductor. The absence of one of the LAFC’s most explosive playmakers will put more pressure on Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, but the pair hasn’t had a hard time finding the net the past few months.Together, Vela and Rossi have combined for five goals and three assists the last four games.

This dynamic playmaking on the attack has allowed the field to open up for other players, and the pair is just as eager to dish as they are to score. With Vela and Rossi at the helm, the team should be well-poised to continue its defense of one of the most indomitable home fields in the league.

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