Three Points: Looking ahead to the Seattle Sounders
BATTLE BETWEEN TWO OF THE HOTTEST CLUBS IN MLS
A few weeks ago, the LA Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders were both struggling to find their way, but both clubs head into Sunday’s match at CenturyLink Field as two of the hottest clubs in MLS.
Currently, both clubs are riding five game MLS unbeaten streaks with each team having won two of their last three games. With the Galaxy just a point behind Seattle for third place in the Western Conference, even more pressure will be added to an already heated clash.
The similarities do not stop there, however, as both clubs will enter Sunday’s match on short rest having each played on Thursday in a friendly (Galaxy) and Champions League.
OMAR GONZALEZ VS. EDDIE JOHNSON
One of the most tantalizing match-ups on Sunday will place dynamic Sounders forward Eddie Johnson against Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez.
Johnson has been on fire as of late scoring nine goals this season and five in his last eight contests. Using his trademark blistering speed and physicality, Johnson has formed a dangerous partnership with Fredy Montero as the pair has combined for more than half of Seattle’s total goals this season.
The Sounders forward will provide a stiff test for Gonzalez, who went 90 minutes for the first time during last week’s 1-0 victory over FC Dallas after recovering from offseason knee surgery. But ever steadily, Gonzalez is regaining the form that made him the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year as he showed an impressive range of speed—which will come in handy against Johnson.
CONTROL OF THE MIDFIELD
Perhaps even more pivotal to the Galaxy’s game plan will be controlling the midfield against a formidable Seattle group that ranks as one of the league’s best.
The Galaxy are tasked with shutting down a Seattle midfield anchored by MLS All-Star Osvaldo Alonso. The ever-active Cuban midfielder is vital in Seattle’s ability to link up with attacking midfielders Mauro Rosales and Brad Evans as he currently leads the Sounders in passes completed (843) and overall passing percentage (82.0%). Seattle’s midfield will also boast one “X factor” as designated player Christian Tiffert is eligible to play against the Galaxy and could see immediate action on Sunday.
Slowing down Alonso will be vital to a Galaxy midfield that is expected to contain the Brazilian pairing of Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho in the center while Sean Franklin and David Beckham man the flanks. For the Galaxy to earn a victory, expect the Brazilians to place considerable pressure on the Seattle midfield in order to remove the Sounders’ passing lanes.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider