CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy defender Sean Franklin finally watched a replay of last Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in the first leg of his club’s home-and-home Western Conference Semifinal Series and came away with two observations.
First, he was impressed by the Galaxy’s overall effort that night.
“I thought, ‘Wow, we worked really hard,’ ” he said.
Second, he remembered how tired he was at the end of the match.
“Running on that turf takes a toll on you,” he said with a grin about the FieldTurf surface at Qwest Field.
The rematch takes place on Sunday at 6 p.m. on grass at The Home Depot Center, with the Galaxy needing only a tie to advance to their second straight Western Conference Championship.
Franklin and his teammates are expecting another difficult test trying to control the Sounders’ speedy wingers. The Galaxy more than met that challenge last Sunday with the likes of Seattle’s Sanna Nyassi and Steve Zakuani totaling just two shots between them.
Nyassi, in fact, didn’t have a single shot attempt and was eventually replaced by Alvaro Fernandez in the 74th minute.
“We knew they were going to press us, and a lot of their strengths come from the outside,” he said. “We just have to be ready for the same thing this weekend.”
While Franklin was controlling things at his position of right back, veteran Eddie Lewis was handling matters on the left. The 36-year-old, who recently announced his decision to retire following the completion of the season, got the nod to replace the usual starter at left back Todd Dunivant once Dunivant was ruled out with a hamstring strain. Lewis was informed of Arena’s decision about five minutes before the team’s pregame meal at 2 p.m.
It was Lewis’ first start in an MLS game since the opening game of the regular season on March 27. The popular veteran said he had a healthy appetite when he was given the news.
“I think I ate extra well,” he said smiling. “I figured I better fuel up because I have to get my running shoes on. These things happen all the time. That’s why you always keep one eye on things in case you get the call.”
Dunivant said he was never concerned that Lewis would not be up to the task at such short notice.
“Eddie’s been around a long time and knows how to play,” Dunivant said. “He’s a gamer and he did the job. He hasn’t started a match in a long time, but he stepped into a playoff game in a very difficult situation against some very fast players and Eddie completely shut them down.”
Dunivant said he felt something give in his hamstring on Thursday, trained on Friday and Saturday and noticed it was getting worse.
“We kind of decided on Sunday it didn’t make sense to play through that,” Dunivant said. “Potentially I’d be out for the rest of the playoffs and potentially put our team in danger as well. I didn’t want to go out there for 10 minutes and then get subbed. That’s not good.”
Dunivant, who had an MRI this week, has trained with the club throughout the week and is optimistic he can return to the field on Sunday.
But if Dunivant is not ready to go against the Sounders, Lewis said he is ready to fill the void once again.
“We’ll see,” Lewis said. “Bruce has talked all season about the strength of the squad and kind of the way he’s built the team. You hope a guy can step in, even under difficult circumstances, and carry on.
“Last week it worked out quite well, and we’ll see how this week plays out.”
The Galaxy are ahead 1-0 on aggregate goals in the series and 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
With a win or tie on Sunday, they will host the Western Conference Championship at The Home Depot Center on Sunday, November 14 at 6 p.m. BUY TICKETS
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