CARSON, Calif. – As far as the LA Galaxy’s Marcelo Sarvas is concerned, there is only one way to look at Sunday’s second leg of the aggregate-goal, Western Conference Championship against Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field (6 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes, 1150 AM, 1330 AM, LIVECHAT).
It’s not going to be pretty.
“To me, it’s like a war,” he said. “I’m going there to win, to fight for 90 minutes.
“It will be a hard game. At the same time we have players here that can manage this very well. Control the time of the game, the corners, the throw-ins, the fouls. We have a 3-0 lead, but we cannot rest. We cannot have a moment in the game where we can breathe.
“We know how important it is and how hard the season is.”
The Galaxy are one game shy of getting a chance to defend their MLS Cup title in the final on Dec. 1. Thanks to last Sunday’s 3-0 victory over the Sounders at The Home Depot Center, LA are on the verge of becoming the first team to qualify for back-to-back MLS Cups since the Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution in 2006 and 2007.
But now it’s on to Seattle, where an expected crowd of more than 50,000 will be on hand in what are expected to be cold and wet conditions. Despite the difficult conditions, the Galaxy can’t wait for Sunday to come.
“It’s great, one of the best in MLS,” goalkeeper Josh Saunders said of the atmosphere at CenturyLink Field. “It’s awesome to go in there and have so many fans cheering and giving their team good support.”
Added the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane, who is tied with Houston’s Will Bruin for the playoff lead with four goals, “For me personally, I like playing in stadiums that have a great atmosphere and everyone wants to be involved in games like that.
“It gets no bigger than this. It should be something we look forward to, even though we are the away team.”
The Galaxy understandably are wary of the Sounders, a team that outscored them 6-0 in two home games earlier this season. The Galaxy also have in mind last year’s Western Conference Semifinal Series between the Sounders and Real Salt Lake, in which Seattle trailed 3-0 after the first leg but returned home to win 2-0 and narrowly missed out on forcing extratime.
The Galaxy expect the Sounders to throw all sorts of numbers forward from the start on Sunday. However, do not expect the defending MLS Cup champions to take a bunker-like mentality, pack it into their penalty area and hope to weather the storm.
“If you take that approach or mentality,” Saunders cautioned, “you’re going to keep that the whole game. You don’t want to do that.
“You want to go out and win the game.”
The Galaxy’s Christian Wilhelmsson, who will be making his first visit to the Pacific Northwest, said it’s all in the preparation. Players have been loose but focused in training this week and are confident about their chances despite the difficult task at hand.
“It’s going to be a really hard game,” he said. “They’re going to go all out and have nothing to lose. It’s going to be really tough for us.
“It’s going to be a hard game and big fight. We have to be prepared and we have to do the same kind of job we did here.”