CARSON, Calif. — With a 1-0 lead over the Seattle Sounders, how cautious will the LA Galaxy be?
Will they bunker in and attempt to make their lead stand up? Or will they get forward in an attempt to double the aggregate advantage, making the hill to climb that much higher for the visiting Sounders?
According to coach Sigi Schmid, the Sounders will know within the first few minutes Sunday night’s decisive playoff game.
“I think it matters how the game goes early on,” he said. “We will get a good taste and we will get a good feel for it. We will see if they are a little more offensively inclined at home. If they are going to play the same way that’s something we will determine early on in the game and then the rest of the game will flow out of that.”
WATCH: Seattle 0, Los Angeles 1
After a narrow defeat in the first leg, Steve Zakuani admitted surprise to the playing style of Los Angeles at Qwest Field, when David Beckham and Landon Donovan doubled back on defense to help nullify the wing play. At The Home Depot Center, the locations of those two Galaxy playmakers line up will go a long way towards indicating the Galaxy’s mind set. Will Bruce Arena play the Sounders the same way he did in Seattle?
“If they do that again, we just have to be a little bit better at breaking them down,” Schmid said.
Breaking them down was something Seattle did with varying success. The Sounders’ eight shots on goal notwithstanding, Zakuani and Sanna Nyassi, who switched sides during the match, did not have the impact on the game that they could have. Especially against Eddie Lewis, the veteran Los Angeles left back, neither player was able to capitalize on the considerable athletic advantage to create a Seattle goal.
“We have to find different ways to beat them,” Zakuani said. “We just have to find a way to be better. Myself, Sanna, Fredy [Montero], Blaise [Nkufo] and all of that. They can be broken down. We had our chances. We’ve watched tape. We know exactly what we can do.”
Divining the intentions of the Galaxy will be important, but the team knows they must score at least once to have a chance of moving forward in the MLS Cup Playoffs. After being shut out in the first leg—Seattle has not scored in three playoff matches, going back to the Houston series in 2009—the offense must find a way to get the ball past LA’s newly named Goalkeeper of the Year Donovan Ricketts.
If LA do come out on the front foot, Seattle might welcome it. The second-year team has had varying levels of success breaking teams down who play with nine men behind the ball, but seem to score more often when it’s a back-and-forth game.
Zakuani, who tied for the team lead with 10 goals, thinks the Sounders can make up the deficit.
“One-nil is nothing,” he said. “That can be turned around. We have 90 minutes to do that.”
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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