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.