CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano gives his Three Points to the Western Conference Championship First Leg between the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC.
CREATE ADVANTAGES IN MIDFIELD
For all the glamour names in attack for both teams, the match will hinge on a battle in midfield between the Galaxy’s Juninho and his Seattle Sounders FC counterpart, Osvaldo Alonso.
The two midfield fulcrums have been in their fair share of battles over the last three years as tendency to mix physical play with offensive magic, has made them natural adversaries. During Seattle’s two victories over the Galaxy earlier in the season, it was Alonso that had the advantage as he helped the Sounders overwhelm the Galaxy midfield helping his offense score an impressive six goals on LA. In the last meeting between the two teams at The Home Depot Center in October, Juninho bossed the midfield and Alonso, who struggled to make his usual impact going forward for Seattle.
If the Galaxy can control possession yet again, then the likes of Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Mike Magee should have numerous opportunities to pepper the net. A fast start will be vital for LA, who will be looking to go into the second leg at CenturyLink Field in Seattle with an advantage over the Sounders.
PRESSURE GSPURNING AND SEATTLE DEFENSE
To advance to the MLS Cup Final for the tjuninho_seahird time in four years, the LA Galaxy must break through a defense that was the stingiest in the Western Conference in 2012.
Seattle allowed just 33 goals this season, the lowest amount in the Western Conference and the second fewest in MLS with only Sporting Kansas City allowing fewer. At the forefront of Seattle’s "D" has been the play of MLS Goalkeeper of the Year candidate Michael Gspurning, who was a rock for Seattle this season, allowing just 15 goals in 23 appearances for a 0.67 goals against average. During the Western Conference Semifinal series with RSL, the Austrian ‘keeper did not miss a beat, holding RSL scoreless while making 13 saves –nine in the second match— over two legs.
Although Gspurning has looked invincible as of late, LA had success against him in the two teams’ last meeting when a low, curling shot from Mike Magee proved too much for the Seattle shot stopper. LA will need to pepper Gspurning once again in order to start the Western Conference Championship off on the right foot.
SHUT DOWN MONTERO AND JOHNSON
Seattle’s forward pairing of Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson have proved to be a thorn in the side of all MLS teams this season, and the Galaxy are no exception.
Montero and Johnson combined for four goals—two apiece— against the Galaxy this season, with all four strikes coming during the team’s previous two meetings at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on May 2 and August 5. For LA to defeat the Sounders in the first leg, central defenders Omar Gonzalez and Tommy Meyer must apply physical pressure to the Seattle duo as they have struggled this season when pressed by defenders.
That being said, the Galaxy must remain alert of Seattle’s other weapons like Mario Martinez and potentially Mauro Rosales, who have punished teams that apply too much pressure to Seattle’s forward duo.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com