Three Points: LA Galaxy seeking to head into postseason with a win on the road against Seattle Sounders FC
SEATTLE – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano provides his Three Points to LA’s massive match against Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday. A victory and the Galaxy will avoid the Knockout Round by securing either or second or third seed in the Western Conference while a draw will guarantee at least one more game at StubHub Center this year.
CAN KEANE AND DONOVAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SEATTLE’S STRUGGLES?
Seattle Sounders FC have struggled mightily in defense during their recent six-game winless streak and on Sunday, LA head coach Bruce Arena will task Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane to add to Seattle’s woes.
During the six game run, which began with a 1-1 draw with the Galaxy on Sept. 21, Seattle has tumbled down the standings, conceding 14 goals while amassing a 0-4-2 record. The tandem of Donovan and Keane are poised to take advantage of Seattle’s recent difficulties, but for LA to do so, the forward pair will need service from a Galaxy midfield that will be without Juninho due to a yellow card accumulation suspension. If LA can provide service for the two attackers, they should be able to place considerable pressure on Seattle ‘keeper Marcus Hahnemann.
The Sounders defense could be bolstered by the addition of veteran center back Djimi Traoré who has missed the last two matches due to a hamstring injury. While Traore looks set to return, the Sounders may be without left back Leo Gonzalez as he continues to deal with a hip issue.
ROOKIES MUST STEP UP ALONG THE LEFT SIDE
In the final game of the season, the LA Galaxy will turn to a pair of rookies in Gyasi Zardes and Greg Cochrane to shore up the left flank against the dangerous Seattle Sounders FC tandem of Mauro Rosales and DeAndre Yedlin.
With Todd Dunivant still dealing with an MCL sprain that kept him out of Sunday’s scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes and LA’s 4-0 defeat to Isidro Metapán in the CONCACAF Champions League, Cochrane appears ready to step up for the injured left back. In his first season in MLS, Cochrane has earned the trust of the Galaxy coaching staff through his positioning and game intelligence, which is something that he’ll need to use as he looks to hold off the wily Rosales and the speedy Yedlin. Assistance from Zardes will be vital for Cochrane to succeed as the rookie will be required to hustle back on defense when Seattle moves forward.
On the opposite end of the field, the battle between Zardes and Yedlin is one of the more attractive subplots to the match. Both rookies are known for their speed as much as they are known for their infamous hairdos, but for Zardes to have success against Yedlin, he’ll need to be clever with his runs and take advantage of Yedlin when he looks to break up field.
ENORMOUS IMPLICATIONS FOR SOUNDERS FC CLASH
The LA Galaxy are into the postseason, but unless they earn a victory in front of a boisterous crowd of more than 66,000 at CenturyLink Field, they aren’t certain to avoid the Knockout Round.
A victory for both teams will allow them to earn a little extra rest before the playoffs begin while sending the other into the Knockout Round. Meanwhile, should the game end in a tie, the Galaxy will need a Vancouver Whitecaps FC victory or draw over the Colorado Rapids to assure themselves of starting the postseason on either November 2 or 3.
Due to the magnitude of the match, the opening stages will be key for both sides as the Galaxy must weather an early push by an inspired Seattle that will be fueled by a massive crowd. If LA can weather the storm and gain control of the tempo, they should be able to earn plenty of chances to test the Sounders net.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com