Clint Dempsey gets the midfield start on Sunday at LAFC, largely because an injury to center back Chad Marshall will force Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson to each bump back a line

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Clint Dempsey is indeed starting in his usual midfield position Sunday as the Sounders head into the new Banc of California Stadium to take on the expansion Los Angeles FC side.

But the reason for Dempsey’s re-insertion in the Starting XI could have more to do with an ailing Sounders backline than anything else. Center back Chad Marshall has been ruled out with a sore neck after some collisions last weekend, forcing Gustav Svensson to bump back a line in his place. That forces Cristian Roldan to bump back into Svensson’s defensive midfield spot and frees up an attacking midfield vacancy for Dempsey to slip into.

And right before kickoff, Roman Torres also was ruled out, leaving the team without its two veteran defenders in the middle.

Other than Dempsey, Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer has opted to go with the same attackers as last week, with Will Bruin up top, Alex Roldan on left wing and Nicolas Lodeiro on the right.

The Sounders had entered the pregame hour uncertain about Marshall’s center back partner, Torres, who strained his right hamstring in training on Saturday. He was tested out in warmups largely because the Sounders did not want to rush Kim Kee-hee back into action for a huge chunk of minutes given he’s coming off a strained calf muscle.

Initially, the team was aiming for May 5 against Columbus as Kim’s date to try to start a game, but having two center backs go down at once means they can’t afford that luxury.

So, it’s a weakened Sounders side trying to win in LAFC’s franchise home debut.


SOUNDERS (1-3-1)

GK Stefan Frei

LB Nouhou

CB Gustav Svensson

CB Kim Kee-hee

RB Kelvin Leerdam

MF Cristian Roldan

MF Osvaldo Alonso

MF Alex Roldan

MF Clint Dempsey

MF Nicolas Lodeiro

FW Will Bruin