SEATTLE - We're a little more than 24 hours from the Western Conference Championship Second Leg at CenturyLink Field, but to get as you get ready for tomorrow's match, be sure to check out my Three Points to the match.
Sunday's match promises to be an offensive game as Seattle Sounders FC look to erase a three goal deficit to the LA Galaxy, but how LA deal with that pressure will ultimately decide the match.
Agree or Disagree with my observations?
Share your thoughts below.
SEATTLE— Bruce Arena spoke to the media at the LA Galaxy’s hotel prior to the club’s final training session ahead of Sunday’s Western Conference Championship Second Leg match against Seattle Sounders FC.
The Galaxy head coach touched on a number of topics including the club’s injury situation, the mindset of Seattle head into the match, and a multitude of other issues.
Arena’s complete thoughts are below…
(On whether there was an update on Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle and Juninho…)
ARENA: “I think everyone is doing well. We’ll make that decision tomorrow, but our guys are all here and we’ll get on the field and see how everyone is feeling.”
(On what he hopes to gain from the training session today…)
ARENA: “We just know that they’re training and ready to go.”
(On what the team gains from traveling the complete squad…)
ARENA: “It’s good for our team spirit. Our whole group has contributed to our success to date—our young players got us through the champions league and throughout the season as have others so it’s nice that we’re able to accommodate everyone and have them here. We think it’s important, we did the same thing when we went to San Jose.”
(On his expectations of the game…)
ARENA: “It’ll be crazy. It’s always crazy when you play here. It’ll be a good crowd, the weather conditions will be probably similar to what they are now. It can be just a hectic afternoon or evening of soccer.”
(On his plans for Saturday’s training…)
ARENA: “Most of our guys have played here before so we’ll probably train for around an hour and we’ll just let them get used to the field again, the conditions, and to get a little bit of the travel out of their system.”
(On Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero only playing together a half this postseason and their ability to unlock LA’s defense…)
ARENA: “They’ve played together a lot; I don’t think they’re going to be looking like they don’t know each other. They’re good players and one would suspect that they’re going to get some chances. But our team is playing well, our backline has been solid, we’re not going to make anything easy. They have a good team and one would expect that they’re going to get chances.”
(On what it is like to face a team with nothing to lose…)
ARENA: “I think that’s an odd statement, it’s like we’re the ones that have all the odds against us. We do have a three goal advantage and I do think that they have something to lose. I don’t understand that rationale at all.”
(On Seattle having nothing to lose because they have to erase the deficit…)
ARENA: “That doesn’t sound like they have nothing to lose, it sounds like they have a lot to lose…I’m going to not even get into that debate, it seems like one of the oddest statements that I’ve ever heard—“they have nothing to lose.” We all have something to lose, they have something to lose, and we have something to lose. It’s an important game for both teams; both teams want to advance to the MLS Cup Final. Both teams have a lot to lose. I don’t mind being the team that happens to have the three goal advantage at this point.”
(On whether LA’s situation was a decent situation to be in…)
ARENA: “I think that we have a little bit of an edge in that regard, but anything can happen in this game and we’ll be prepared to play hard, play well and try to win the game.”
(On what he saw from Seattle’s match with Real Salt Lake in the 2011 playoffs…)
ARENA: “I haven’t watched it. I saw a couple of clips, but I haven’t watched that game.”
The LA Galaxy touched down in the wet and windy Pacific Northwest on Saturday afternoon ahead of Sunday's Western Conference Championship Second Leg against Seattle Sounders FC.
Will have more coverage from the team after their media availability later this afternoon.
As a change of pace, rather than post a photo of the Seattle cityscape, below is a photo from Seattle Times' reporter Joshua Mayers of the reception that Sounders FC received outside their training facility this morning...
Here's what the Sounders saw after practice today, with fans chanting and flags waving... twitter.com/joshuamayers/s…
— Joshua Mayers (@joshuamayers) November 17, 2012
CARSON, Calif. – Yes, the LA Galaxy hold a 3-0 series lead on aggregate in their Western Conference Championship Series with Seattle Sounders FC heading into the second leg, but they are not interested in hanging back to hold their lead in Sunday’s match at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
The temptation heading into the second leg could be to drop numbers in the box in an attempt to clog the passing lanes and limit scoring opportunities for Sounders FC. But throughout the week, the Galaxy have shunned any talk of a defensive-first approach.
“If you take that approach and go with that mentality than you’re going to keep that throughout the whole game and you don’t want to do that,” said goalkeeper Josh Saunders. “You want to go out and try to win the game.”
One potential blue print – although that is up for debate – is Seattle’s 2011 Western Conference Semifinal Second Leg against Real Salt Lake. During the match, Sounders FC peppered the net in hopes of erasing a similar 3-0 deficit, but was unable to find the tying third goal to even the series.
Ahead of Sunday’s second leg, the Galaxy have watched tape of that performance and expect to learn from Salt Lake’s game plan.
“We know what the game is going to look like, it’s very clear,” said Landon Donovan. “If we don’t do a good job of putting them back on their heels and attacking them then they can have wave after wave of attack against us and when that happens, they have talented players that can make plays and it’ll be a dangerous game.
“We don’t want to fall into that, we don’t want a game where we’re giving up 30 shots like Salt Lake did last year and squeaking our way through,” Donovan added. “We want to put them on the back foot a little bit and we think that we have the quality to do that.”
With that attacking quality in mind, Donovan is adamant that there will be no defensive shell for LA.
“I didn’t grow up as a defender, I’m not going there to defend for 90 minutes, I’m going there to try to do my part to help us defend, but I’m going there to help us score goals and make plays,” said Donovan. “Robbie [Keane] is the same, Mike Magee is the same, David [Beckham] is the same, even guys like Juni and Christian Wilhelmsson are the same so that’s our mentality.”
CARSON, Calif. – Landon Donovan is still listed on the LA Galaxy’s injury report as questionable with right hamstring tightness, but the Galaxy captain is optimistic that he’ll be able to return to the field in Sunday’s decisive Western Conference Championship Second Leg against Seattle Sounders FC.
Donovan suffered the injury during the closing stages of LA’s 3-0 victory over Sounders FC last Sunday, which ultimately caused him to exit the game at the 84th minute. Since the issue arouse, Donovan has seen limited action in training, admitting he “started exercising again” on Friday but was optimistic that he could participate in the second leg.
“I think that if you asked me on Sunday, I would have said there is very little chance, but now I’m a lot more optimistic,” said Donovan on Friday. “We’re going to take it day by day and see how it goes. Obviously, we travel up tomorrow, we’ll see how much I can do tomorrow and then the hope is that Sunday I’ll be able to go. “
Donovan described his hamstring as being in “not perfect shape” and a result of an accumulation of various knocks throughout the season but admitted that his strain was not severe as it could have been. However, if Donovan is unable to start or dress for the match, the Galaxy captain believes that LA’s bench can step up in his stead.
“We do have full confidence and as we’ve said all year, we have a group of 20-odd players that can do the job,” said Donovan. “In a perfect world, obviously everybody is healthy and available and I think Seattle would say the same thing, but that’s what happens this time of year and that’s why you spend so much time developing the roster. “
While some may believe that Donovan should take a cautious approach to his injury with LA on the brink of the MLS Cup Final, the Galaxy captain is quick to disagree.
“I don’t really subscribe to that theory because I’ve been a part of too many soccer games to know that anything can happen, so if we say ‘let’s play it safe and not play myself or Juni or Edson or anybody,” you might be out of it and the season will be over,” said Donovan. “I’d rather put myself on the line a little bit and make sure that we advance and worry about the rest later as opposed to hoping that we get through the series and rest for the final.”
CARSON, Calif. -- MLS issued the final injury report ahead of the Conference Championship Second Legs on Sunday.
The LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC had no changes to their reports...
Below is the complete report for both teams.
OUT: DF A.J. DeLaGarza (L knee sprain); DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: FW Edson Buddle (L plantar inflammation); FW Landon Donovan (R hamstring tightness); MF Juninho (R Achilles inflammation)
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
OUT: FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL surgery); DF Andrew Duran (L knee ACL surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF Mauro Rosales (R hamstring strain); DF Leo Gonzalez (R hamstring strain); DF Patrick Ianni (R calf strain)
We're just two days out from the Western Conference Championship Second Leg and both LAGalaxy.com and SoundersFC.com have provided a pair of interesting video previews.
Check them out below...
LA Galaxy: Bruce Arena, Robbie Keane, David Beckham, and Landon Donovan
Seattle Sounders FC: Sigi Schmid
CARSON, Calif. – The status of Juninho remains in question, but the LA Galaxy and the Brazilian midfielder are hopeful that he’ll be available for Sunday’s Western Conference Championship Second Leg against Seattle Sounders FC.
The Brazilian midfielder was substituted after the first half of LA’s 3-0 victory due to a right Achilles issue that was later specified as right Achilles inflammation on the club’s injury report on Tuesday.
Juninho was present for the portion of Galaxy training that was open to the media on Friday, but the Brazilian told reporters that his participation in training was limited, “just run on the field and a couple passes, that’s it.”
“He’s moving along fine,” said head coach Bruce Arena of Juninho’s status. “We think he’ll be available on Sunday.”
Juninho was quick to share the confidence of his coach, stating that he still had time to recover.
“I have time for the game, two more days,” said Juninho. “I hope that I’ll better for the game.”
CARSON, Calif. – Marcelo Sarvas has been in this situation in a two-leg aggregate series before, albeit from the opposite side.
In the 2010 Campeonato de Verano, Sarvas’ Alajuelense dropped the first leg of their Semifinal Round series with Herediano 4-2 on the road, heading into the second leg at Alajuela’s Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto. In the second leg, Sarvas’ rojinegros jumped on Herediano from the start, scoring four goals to advance to the final—a series that Alajuelense would win handily.
That situation in the back of his mind, Sarvas believes that he knows what Seattle will be feeling once the first whistle is sounded on Sunday evening.
“In that situation, it’s much more about emotion. You go inside the field and say, ‘we have to beat them because after 90 minutes we’ll be out,’” said Sarvas. “People around you help a lot so you have to push yourself. For sure, [Seattle]’ll come hard, they will press us and the people in the stadium will push them for 90 minutes so we have to be ready for that.”
The Galaxy will need Sarvas to be ready as he may be pressed into action due to the question marks surrounding Juninho. The Brazilian midfielder is currently suffering from right Achilles inflammation that forced him to exit LA’s 3-0 first leg victory over Seattle after the first half.
“We are waiting till the last moment to see what happens. I hope Juni can feel better and can be ready to be on the pitch and Bruce [Arena] can decide what formation and what players we will play,” said Sarvas. “I hope that we will have everybody healthy, but if I have to play, I will play and I will do my job as I’ve been doing every game.”
But no matter the situation that he’s pressed into, Sarvas is expecting a knock-down drag-out match on the turf at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
“My mentality is to go there and fight,” said Sarvas. “For me, it’s like a war and I go there to win and to fight for 90 minutes, but it will be a hard game. At the same time, we have players here who can manage this very well.”
CARSON, Calif. -- Following the lead of his representatives, David Beckham himself shot down reports linking him with a potential move to Australia.
Word came on Friday morning in Australia after the Football Federation of Australia issued a press release stating that there had been contact between Beckham's representatives and the federation. However, Beckham's represenatives were quick to deny the reports hours later stating that the LA Galaxy midfielder has "no plans" to play in Australia.
After the Galaxy's final training session in California on Friday ahead of the Western Conference Championship Second Leg against Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field, Beckham shot down the rumor.
"Bruce [Arena] told me this morning, this the first that I've heard about it," said Beckham, who was interjected with by a Arena, who said 'we booked his ticket already. "Like I said, that's the first that I've heard about it this morning, definitely, not true."