Pregame Notes: LA, Seattle look to affirm Cup credentials at The Home Depot Center

First leg of Western Conference Championship kicks off Sunday at 6pm PT

LA GALAXY v SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Sun., Nov. 11, The Home Depot Center (6 p.m. PT; ESPN/Deportes; TSN2; RDS2)

REFEREE: Jair Marrufo.

AR1 (bench): Frank Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Corey Rockwell;

4th: Sorin Stoica

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INJURY REPORT:

  • LA GALAXY -- OUT: DF A.J. DeLaGarza (L knee sprain); DF Leonardo (R knee inflammation); MF Kyle Nakazawa (back spasms); QUESTIONABLE: DF David Junior Lopes (facial fracture); MF Christian Wilhelmsson (R quad tightness)
  • 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)

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS (suspended next yellow card): LA: David Beckham, Omar Gonzalez, Juninho; Marcelo Sarvas ... SEA: Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Jeff Parke

LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD:

LA 4 wins, 10 GF … SEA 3 wins, 10 GF … Ties 2

2012 HEAD-TO-HEAD: LA 1 win, 1 GF … SEA 2 wins, 6 GF … Ties 0

AT THE HOME DEPOT CENTER:

10/28: LA 1, SEA 0 (Magee 82)

MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: LA 2 wins, 3 GF … SEA 0 wins, 1 GF … Ties 0

LA GALAXY

  • In Sounders FC, the Galaxy now face a club they have lost to just twice since the 2009 season -- both meetings this year in Seattle (by a combined 6-0 scoreline). The Galaxy entered this season 5-0-1 since, including both legs of a Western Conference Semifinal Series in 2010.
  • “This is when it really matters, when it really counts,” said Robbie Keane. “This year against [San Jose] we were certainly the better team in every game that we played, but it’s about winning games isn’t it? It wasn’t to be in the last few games, but when it really matters, that’s when it counts and that was [Wednesday].”
  • Keane hit for his first two-goal game in the MLS Cup Playoffs, and now has three career playoff goals. Since returning from Euro 2012 with Republic of Ireland, he's scored 16 goals with 7 assists in all competitions.
  • “Since he has come back, he has been the best player in the league. He has been great, scores big goals, he’s competitive, he’s bought into MLS and he likes LA," said Arena. "He is a great leader on this team and when the whistle blows he is ready to play.”
  • Mike Magee continued his remarkable run of form in the postseason, now with two goals in three playoff games this season, and goals in five of the Galaxy's last seven postseason matches. “We knew if we scored a goal, we'd get a few more,” Keane said. “We knew we'd always get chances. That was the case. We got the first goal, and then they sat back and let us play the game we like to play, get the ball to feet and that was the difference tonight.”
  • Since the halfway point of the season, the Galaxy have lost three times in all -- one of those losses to Seattle, the 4-0 reversal Aug. 5 at CenturyLink Field.
  • “We’ve been the best team in this league since July and I’m happy no one has noticed that which is always good," said Arena. "We’ve been able to fly under the radar a little bit. We’ve been really good since July so we were pretty confident we could [go to San Jose] and win."
  • Landon Donovan collected two assists, his first two this postseason and his first multiple-assist playoff game, and now has 11 for his MLS career. That's fourth all-time; Donovan already leads the MLS Cup Playoffs all-time with 20 goals.
  • "I thought we were terrific throughout the game and I thought we could have scored a lot of goals," Donovan said. "I think that helps us a lot going into Sunday.”

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

  • For the first time in four tries, Sounders FC now advance to a conference championship -- where they will take on the LA Galaxy, who have been one of their bogey teams until this season.
  • “We have never had this chance before, to play in the finals of the conference," said Fredy Montero. "We are very excited to play against the Galaxy. We are hungry to get to the final. Hopefully we have a good game in LA and then hopefully we will have the chance to finish it in Seattle. We played hard and we did what we had to, we just had to score one goal.”
  • Mario Martinez had made just three league appearances -- totaling just 40 minutes -- since his midseason acquisition. He had not scored a goal since coming to the club, though he had two assists in CONCACAF Champions League games.
  • “I was a little frustrated with the idea that I wouldn’t get the chance to play but we can’t think about that in a game like this,” Martínez said. “We have to focus on the opportunities that we have.”
  • Martinez was starting in place of the injured Mauro Rosales. "Mauro is getting better. Even today he ran a little bit and did some work and was looking much better. I’m not sure if the first game against LA is going to come in time but for sure the second game," said Schmid. "We felt that Mario was a player that close to 90 minutes of fitness based on the game that he played with Honduras and we felt that his passing could help us as well. His ability on set pieces is great and obviously he got a great goal as well.”
  • With Rosales out of the side, Christian Tiffert moved to a wide midfield role and Brad Evans shifted to the center of the park.
  • "When Brad steps on the field you might not think to yourself that Brad is the smoothest guy or the best player, but what Brad is a warrior. What people don’t see from the outside is that he is one that is talking and organizing. ... He was getting chances on goal, he was blocking shots, he even had a dead leg at the end of the game,” Schmid said.
  • Michael Gspurning was credited with nine saves, a Sounders FC postseason record and more than he was required to make in any league match this season. "He has been a tremendous addition for our team; his height obviously makes it difficult for other teams on corners, but he is just a great 'keeper," said Schmid.