TUKWILA, Wash. — Now that the playoff picture has been developed, the Sounders are eager for their close-up.
The home-and-away encounter with Supporters’ Shield winners Los Angeles will be the next chapter in a burgeoning rivalry that has developed between the West Coast clubs, and Seattle are eager to regain the upper hand in a series that has recently turned in the Galaxy’s favor.
Landon Donovan’s team is responsible for Seattle’s two lowest points of the season: A 4-0 loss at Qwest Field that prompted ownership to issue credit for a free game in 2011 for season ticket holders, and a 3-1 loss on Independence Day in Los Angeles that marked the Sounders worst-ever record as a professional franchise at 4-8-3.
“We lost to them twice [during the regular season],” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We turned that around in the Open Cup … although there were a lot of more reserve players on the field for us and for them.
“For us, the motivation is definitely there,” continued Schmid. “We want to do better than we did last year. We have a chance to go up against the Supporters’ Shield winner and if you want to win a championship, you are going to have to beat a team like that eventually.”
The Sounders drew the Galaxy as their Western Conference semifinals dance partners thanks to a fluke combination of events that took place in the Colorado and San Jose games.
The Earthquakes were blown out by Kansas City while the Rapids gave up two late goals for an improbable draw against Real Salt Lake. A win by either team would have sent Seattle to the Eastern Conference, where they would have competed in a four-team bracket alongside Columbus and New York.
Although many would consider the Eastern Conference to be an easier road, Schmid’s “we’ll-have-to-play-them-eventually” mentality has pervaded the team.
Steve Zakuani, for one, is excited at the chance to face LA. With David Beckham healthy and contributing to the Galaxy, Zakuani believes the spectacle will be exceptional when the lights come on for Sunday evening’s opening match at Qwest Field.
“I wanted them from the beginning,” Zakuani said. “First of all, soccer-wise, it’s a good matchup for us and they’re a good footballing team. So are we.
“You can’t lose in that situation. It’s one for the fans,” added the winger. “You’re going to get 35,000-plus [fans] out to see Donovan, Beckham, [Edson] Buddle, and some of our players. It’s going to be amazing playing them here and at The Home Depot Center [in the second leg].”
“It’s a good draw for us. Of course it’s going to be very tough […] but I think we owe them one and we’re ready.”
Fredy Montero (quadriceps injury) and Jeff Parke (head injury) were both limited participants in practice on Monday.
Parke was held out of the five-vs.-two drill while Montero worked out on the side with fitness coach David Tenney. It appeared that both players would be available for Sunday’s match.
A determination on backup goalkeeper Terry Boss, who missed the last two Seattle games with a hip flexor injury, should be coming on Thursday.
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