SEATTLE – When trying to slow down Seattle’s attack on Sunday (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, ESPN2), Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham may only have to look up to see perhaps the Sounders' most influential player.
With Beckham on the right side of the midfield, he will likely see plenty of Seattle’s Steve Zakuani roaming the left side of Seattle’s midfield.
Zakuani scored 10 goals and added six assists this season for Seattle and has been one of the catalysts for Seattle’s attack throughout 2010. Slowing him down might seem the easiest way to thwart him but it’s easier said than done, Beckham said.
“It’s impossible to slow him down because he’s so quick,” he said.
Zakuani has been consistent throughout the season and finished strong, with three goals and three assists in Seattle’s last eight games. His physical attributes make him a threat whenever he touches the ball.
“I think he’s been their best player this year,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said. “He’s powerful, he’s fast and he’s relentless and he goes and goes and goes. Sean (Franklin) is going to have his hands full and we’ve got to do a good job of making sure he’s not isolated one on one.”
The way Beckham and Franklin, the Galaxy’s right back, combine to mark Zakuani will be an important part of the Galaxy’s defensive tactics, and there must be communication between the outside players, Beckham said.
“There has to be good comunication on both flanks, with Landon and Todd (Dunivant) on the other side and myself and Sean on our side,” Beckham said. “Everyone has to be in synch and everyone has to perform, and if you don’t perform and don’t have your runners, they will capitalize on that. Both flanks have to defend well.”
Throughout the latter portion of the season, the Galaxy’s central defense has been a fluid position. Due to injury and suspension, the club started five different central defenders. While Omar Gonzalez has a spot locked down for Sunday’s match, which player will start alongside him remains a mystery outside of the team.
Will it be the veteran Gregg Berhalter, who was a fixture for most of the season until mid-August? Or will it be A.J. DeLaGarza, who has played well in several games filling at central defense?
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said he is “likely” set on what pairing he will use, but he did not reveal his selection.
To right back Sean Franklin, the players add different qualities to the mix.
“Gregg’s been around for a while. He brings that experience and is a big voice for us back there,” Franklin said. “When he’s in, it’s a different game and when A.J. comes in, A.J. is a good player. He reads (the game) well, is calm and brings a little bit of pace to the backline.”
Still, even with the less-experienced DeLaGarza in defense, the team remains the same.
“It hasn’t really changed,” he said. “Both guys have played a lot of games for us and it doesn’t matter who’s in the middle or who’s in the backline. Bruce built a team this year where we have depth in every position. I’m comfortable and I know the whole team’s comfortable with whoever starts and whoever comes off the bench.”
When the Galaxy beat FC Dallas in the regular-season finale, the club claimed the Supporters’ Shield trophy. Aside from being the first trophy the club has won since 2005, it was the first Supporters’ Shield trophy in Landon Donovan’s career.
With his trophy case full now, is he happy?
“That was probably the last piece that I hadn’t gotten that I’ve gotten but I want more MLS Cups,” Donovan said. “I want the most all-time and we’ve got a good chance this year of doing it again.”
Will a win in MLS Cup 2010 give him the most MLS Cup titles ever?
“No, but it would help,” he said.
Recently-retired Jaime Moreno won four MLS Cups with D.C. United.
The Galaxy travel to Seattle this Sunday, October 31 for a 5 p.m. match against the Sounders on ESPN2/Deportes. The Galaxy will then host Seattle in the second game of the two-leg, home-and-home Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday, November 7 at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN. BUY TICKETS