Could It Be Déjà Vu Against the Sounders

View From The Booth

Buddle returns to training

Photo Credit: 
Robert Mora

It should be quite an evening at the Home Depot
Center this Sunday. In
addition to the usual excitement surrounding a Galaxy’s annual 4th of July
match, the game against the Sounders also marks the return of LA’s two
offensive leaders from World Cup duty, Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan. 
If you recall the energy level nearly two months ago on the night we sent
Donovan and Buddle off to South
Africa, I wouldn’t be surprised to have a
similar feel for their return to the HDC. 

Let’s talk about the return of Donovan and
Buddle. While Donovan was one of the reasons the U.S. National Team advanced to
the round of 16 by scoring three goals in four games, Buddle saw very limited
minutes for Bob Bradley’s side. Although Donovan is coming back a little
rundown from the travel and number of minutes the Galaxy captain put in, it is
safe to expect that Donovan will be ready to play. 

As for Edson, expect him to come back and
pick up right where he left off. The fact that MLS’ leading goal scorer did not
see enough minutes to make a serious impact in the World Cup should serve as a
huge motivator. Physically, Buddle should be very fresh and ready to run at the
Seattle
defense.

Looking at the Seattle Sounders FC, I must
admit that I am completely thrown off by how bad this team has been this
year.  It is basically the same team that took MLS by storm in its first
year.  In 2010, the Sounders have just four wins in 14 games and have been
leaking goals at an unbelievable rate, including a 4-0 loss against Los Angeles earlier this year in Seattle.

But this will be a different looking Sounders
team than the one LA beat in early May.  Pat Noonan has appeared to lock
down a starting role for Seattle
and the recent return of Nate Jaqua should help the Sounders have a hope of
making a run for a playoff spot.

Seattle will likely be missing Osvaldo Alonso in the midfield,
which has been a huge defensive piece for Sigi Schmid in the past. Maybe it is
a coincidence, but Alonso went out of the match early against the Galaxy this
season, and everything started to fall apart for the Sounders…could you say
déjà vu?

The part of Seattle’s attack that puts the most fear in
an opponent is Steve Zakuani and Freddie Ljungberg at the outside midfield
positions. Zakuani has the speed to run at defenders, and Ljungberg has the
veteran wisdom to play the “killer” ball in behind defenders. If both are
energetic and playing well, it makes for a long evening for the Galaxy
defenders. Expect Sean Franklin and Todd Dunivant to match up with Seattle’s outside
midfielders for most of the 90 minutes, and this will be a huge key to decide who
will win this game. 

Fredy Montero, like the rest of the Sounders
team, has been much quieter in his sophomore season in MLS.  Make no
mistake though; Montero is still very dangerous when given a chance in or around
the area.  LA did a fantastic job of frustrating the Columbian the first
go around, and consequently Montero was yanked from the match early into the
second half…déjà vu?

Quick Hits –
The Galaxy has to get back to putting teams on
their heels early in the game. LA looks almost unbeatable when they find the
net early in the match. Of course, they are undefeated in 10 games this season
when they have scored the first goal.

It has been reported that Landon Donovan has
a slight hamstring strain that he picked up in the Slovenia game during the World Cup.
I would not be surprised if either Landon did not play more than 60 minutes or
Landon did not start the match and came on to play the final 30-35 minutes of
the game.

The Galaxy has continued to be tough
defensively all season long, but has slowed offensively in its past couple
matches. A scoreless draw against Toronto
the last time out, and then the lone defeat of the year against RSL before the
World Cup break. The Galaxy needs to get back to the attacking flow that we
witnessed earlier this year.

However, give the Galaxy players credit for
stepping up in the absence of Donovan and Buddle. Kirovski, Bowen, Magee and
Cazumba all made major contributions with LA’s two World Cup stars away. 
It has to give tremendous confidence to you the fans and coach Bruce Arena to
know that we can turn to the bench should we need to.

With out question, the fourth of July games
at the Home Depot Center
are always a ton of fun.  Some of the biggest crowds of the season come to
the HDC and the fireworks that follow the match are some of the best in Southern California.  An eleventh win on the year
for the Galaxy would be a perfect marriage to go with the fans and fireworks.
It will also give the Galaxy their first win on home soil against the Sounders,
after Seattle
earned a 2-0 win in the same fixture a year ago.  I hope you all enjoy the
evening in Carson.