Sounders ready for a monumental task against injury-hit Galaxy

BY KAYLA KNAPP

The Los Angeles Galaxy have a monumental advantage heading into the second leg of the Western Conference final against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night. Up three goals to none, the defending champions only have 90 minutes standing between them and a second consecutive MLS Cup final appearance.

The Sounders haven’t given up though, and are going to put up a tireless fight. They will try to take advantage of a Galaxy squad that could be without a number of its starters. Captain Landon Donovan [R hamstring strain tightness], midfielder Juninho [R Achilles inflammation] and forward Edson Buddle [L plantar inflammation] are all questionable for Sunday’s match.

That is a huge portion of the Galaxy attack that could see limited (or no) minutes. Injuries to more defensive players would be worse considering the large lead Los Angeles holds, but losing key cogs in a team that has gelled so well in the last few months will certainly hurt their chances. If Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena is forced to insert some younger players into his lineup, Seattle will look to pounce on those weaker links.

There are also injury concerns for Seattle. Playmaker Mauro Rosales [R hamstring strain] isn’t fully recovered yet, and whether he plays on Sunday (or for how long) will be a game-time decision from Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. Defender Leo Gonzalez [R hamstring strain] is also questionable, but if available would be a huge boost for the Seattle backline.

It’s going to take a massive effort from Seattle to overcome the deficit. Expect them to throw everything at the Galaxy defense from the opening minute of play. But don’t anticipate Los Angeles parking the bus too early in this one – the Sounders offense is too potent for any team to endure wave after wave of attacks without conceding. The Galaxy will try to keep from being pinned back in their defensive third, and play their game, the one that has seen them get two resounding wins in their last two matches. Seattle on the other hand, has nothing to lose and won’t hold back – this will be an all-out battle at CenturyLink Field.

Here is a closer look at the second leg of the Western Conference finals:

SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. LOS ANGELES GALAXY

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA: Nov. 18, 6pm PT, ESPN

SEASON SERIES: Before last Sunday’s match, the Sounders had outscored Los Angeles 6-1 in their three prior meetings this year, and won the season series, 2-1-0. But now in the post-season, their 3-0 loss to the Galaxy in the first leg of the Western Conference finals is the only result that has any meaning.

KEY PLAYERS – SEATTLE SOUNDERS: F Fredy Montero, F Eddie Johnson, M Mauro Rosales, GK Michael Gspurning LOS ANGELES GALAXY: F Robbie Keane, M Landon Donovan, D Omar Gonzalez, GK Josh Saunders

MATCH-UP TO WATCH- Omar Gonzalez and Tommy Meyer vs. Fredy Montero: In the first leg, the two Galaxy center backs kept the dangerous striker in check while he was on the pitch. Montero struggled to find space and create opportunities last Sunday, something he will have to do tomorrow. With the Sounders sitting in a three goal hole, Montero will need to step up and break his playoff-goal drought while the Galaxy defense must do what they did last game and make him a non-factor.

OUTLOOK – Obviously the Sounders have a deep hole they will need to dig themselves out of. Heading into this second leg with a three-goal deficit, Seattle must score early and often if they want a chance to move on to MLS Cup. The Galaxy must focus on playing their game. If Los Angeles can avoid bunkering too early in the match, and even get on the scoreboard just once, they should be able to see themselves through to the final.

While the Sounders clearly have a team oozing with talent, they aren’t nearly as effective without Mauro Rosales on the pitch. While his status for Sunday is going to be a game-time decision, and he may play, he still won’t be match-fit and likely not at 100%. Los Angeles have some injuries and knocks they are dealing with as well, but expect them to come out on the offensive. They aren’t likely to keep Seattle off the scoreboard, but the Galaxy should be able to defend their three-goal lead.

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10 Responses to Sounders ready for a monumental task against injury-hit Galaxy

  1. Sean says:

    The Seattle offense is not the same without Rosales. They need him to contribute however he can.

    • Ed says:

      Caskey was not the answer in the first leg. Zakuani would be more of a threat on the left wing.

    • divers suck says:

      What makes you think Mauro Rosales won’t show up, or if Caskey is going to be a sub for anyone? Mario Martinez is still fresh and available from Honduras international duty. If this is the last hurrah from Seattle, I’m guessing Mauro is gong to be around and the weather is predicted to be a cold, windy, rainy, miserable night. That really doesn’t bode well for LA outside of the fact that they have a 3 goal cushion….

  2. bottlcaps says:

    The Franklin-> Wilhemsson->Donovan->Keane combo rocked Seattle in the last game. Add Mike Magee into that and they had more than they could handle. If Donovan cannot play, the Magee-Keane combo works well too. With Sarvas, the Galaxy can play Beckham higher up,as he is a slightly better defender than Juninho (if Juninho cannot start). Buddle adds a unique facet to the offense, but he hasn’t been the impact scorerer this year because of injuries and the Galaxy ran on all cylinders without him. All in all, the Galaxy offence can function pretty well without the three if need be.

    The important thing is to not let Seattle back in the mix with an early goal. Let them work hard for it and by countering well, should force Seattle to play more defense than they want to. The team that manages this game the most effectively will be playing in the MLS Cup.

    • Ed says:

      While Sarvas doesn’t have the long distance shot that Juninho has, he makes up for it with his field vision. After a season of American soccer, he has found his rhythm.

      Wilmhelmsson finally gives LA a true winger. He fits with LA’s combination passing game, but he is still adjusting. Hopefully he will hit his stride in Concacaf Champions League.

  3. @Boriuano_10 says:

    I think EJ may be trying to remember some of Meek Mills lyrics on the pitch and during this he will find the net once. LA will hold them off 3-1. EJ will go on a Twitter rant on how Meek Mills album is the best there is, was and ever will be… He will also retweet anyone who mentions anything about him.. And then go on to say that he is not certified because he is focusing on his game, while Tweeting every 15-20 minutes.

  4. Good Jeremy says:

    This may be blasphemy but is there a chance that Magee gets a callup? He’s not that skilled and doesn’t have the raw physical tools, but he seems to come on strong at important times. A lot like Alan Gordon. I would at least like to see him at camp.

    • Ed says:

      Magee is that skilled, but his problem has always been consistency. He is also one of those guys that doesn’t really have a true position.

      He has become consistent enough to be a regular starter and has found a home on the left for Beckham and Donovan crosses/passes, but he is still a role player and not a focal point.

      USA could use more role players like Magee and Gordon. A true scorer/poacher like Wondolowski could play a nice role also.