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."
CARSON, Calif. -- LA Galaxy second-year midfielder Dan Keat made his longest international appearance on Wednesday, earning a start and going 75 minutes in New Zealand's 1-1 draw with China at the Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai.
Chris Wood tallied for the Kiwis while Zhao Peng scored for China. Keat is currently en route back to Southern California from China.
Below are a few other interesting links to get you through the evening...
Mike Magee has been deserving of an added media presence due to his electric play as of late and he's finally getting it.
Meanwhile, back in Sweden, former LA Galaxy captain Gregg Berhalter discusses his first season coaching Swedish side Hammarby IF.
CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy defender Tommy Meyer has seen the impressive crowds at CenturyLink Field up close, having served as an unused substitute in both LA defeats this season, but on Sunday, the rookie will truly experience their ferocity from the Galaxy starting XI.
OnSunday in the Western Conference Championship Second Leg, Meyer will start alongside fellow center back and backline leader Omar Gonzalez as the Galaxy look to advance to advance to their third MLS Cup Final in four years. Although Meyer has seen the crowd at CenturyLink, he’s excited about the prospect of stepping onto the field on Sunday, in front of the largest crowd that he’s ever played in front of.
“It something that I look forward to,” said Meyer. “You always want to play in front of a crowd like that and it kind of gets you going. It’ll be a fun environment to play in.”
Although the noise is deafening from the outside, Meyer attests that he does a good job of tuning out the crowd.
“I don’t really hear anything; I’m just focused on the game,” said Meyer. “Everything tunes out when the game starts.”
While the atmosphere promises to be a festive one off the field, but LA understand that it will be a battle on the field as Seattle look to erase a three goal deficit after falling in the first leg at The Home Center. For Seattle to overturn the deficit at home, head coach Sigi Schmid will need greater production from forward Fredy Montero, who was a non-factor in the first leg in large part due to Meyer.
During the first leg, Meyer and Omar Gonzalez stifled Sounders FC's all-time leading goal scorer through consistent pressure, holding the Colombian to a single attempt at goal—a shot from 35-yards-out in the 16th minute that was blocked by Galaxy right back Sean Franklin. For LA to continue to keep Montero under wraps in the second leg, Meyer believes that the Galaxy must follow the same game plan.
“Obviously, we have to do the same way that we did last game, win steps to him and stay tight,” said Meyer. “[Gonzalez and I] are good at covering each other just like we’ve been doing for last two games.”
Although the crowd and a motivated Sounders FC will provide a stiff test for the rookie, Franklin and the rest of the Galaxy have confidence that Meyer can help LA silence Seattle.
“Earlier this year, he was not playing many games, so [he didn’t] have a lot of confidence, but by getting in the rotation more, you can tell that he’s playing with more confidence,” said Franklin. “He has no fear out there, he’s not afraid to make mistakes and if he does, he forgets about it and goes to the next play and he can tell you that he’s growing as a player."
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy are fully aware that Seattle Sounders FC have been in this exact position heading into a decisive second leg in a postseason series before, but whether it impacts their own game plan remains up for debate.
During the 2011 Western Conference Semifinal First Leg, Real Salt Lake jumped on Sounders FC to defeat Seattle by the score of 3-0, setting up a decisive tie at CenturyLink Field. Needing to win by three goals to force extra time, Seattle went on the warpath and put RSL on their heels early. Clutch saves by goalkeeper Nick Rimando and a clearance off the line by right back Tony Beltran held Seattle scoreless in the first half, but the Sounders tallied two quick goals in the second, but could not find a third.
Ahead a frighteningly similar situation heading into this Sunday’s match, LA expect the same approach from Sounders FC.
“I remember watching that game and they had almost 30-some shots [Seattle had 26 attempts on goal] and it’s going to be a similar game to that one last year,” said defender Sean Franklin. “For them, they have confidence; they know how close they were to closing a 3-0 deficit so we know it’s going to be a tough game.”
But head coach Bruce Arena begs to differ that RSL’s experience bares any consequence for the Galaxy.
“You waste a lot of energy trying to think all that stuff out. They weren’t successful last year; they didn’t advance so I’m sure their blueprint is to advance and not, not to advance,” said Arena. “It is what it is. Every game is different, you can’t compare a game last year to this year, and we can’t compare the last game that we played to the next one. They’re all different.”
“I’ll be honest with you; everyone always has the answers the day after the game,” Arena added. “Everyone is the expert and this time around, we have to be flexible with our thinking, flexible on how we deal with the game and hopefully, on Monday, all the experts agree with us as opposed to disagreeing. That’s the way it is, there’s no way of predicting what is going to happen.”