CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena never has been a big fan of the MLS schedule makers, and he continued to voice his frustration at facing the Seattle Sounders in back-to-back contests starting Sunday at StubHub Center (5:30 p.m., ESPN2) and continuing next Saturday in the Pacific Northwest.
But his displeasure isn’t as pointed as it usually has been. These showdowns, after all, will decide the Supporters’ Shield, symbolic of the best overall record in MLS. The Galaxy (17-6-9, 60 points) and Seattle (19-10-3, 60 points) are tied entering these pivotal last two weeks of the regular season.
“I still think it should be a better-coordinated schedule,” Arena said. “I think teams shouldn’t end the season playing each other. But having said that, these matchups are fine. I think it’s great.
“I still don’t think it’s appropriate, but I think this year it’s fine. In another year, it could be where you end up playing four games in a row.”
Galaxy captain Robbie Keane, third in MLS with 19 goals and tied for second (with New York’s Thierry Henry and Portland’s Diego Valeri) with 14 assists, agreed.
“Very, very strange,” he said. “If you told me at the start of the season someone came up with this idea of playing these two games at the end of the season … they’d been drinking the night before,” he said.
“The timing for the people is good. The people who made this decision probably are happy now because of the way the situation is. But it is what it is and you get on with it.”
The Galaxy and Sounders met on July 28 in Seattle, and the Galaxy earned an impressive 3-0 victory that featured first-half goals by Gyasi Zardes (eighth minute), Landon Donovan (18th minute) and Stefan Ishizaki (36th minute). The Sounders’ defense suffered because of the absence of center back Chad Marshall, who was a late scratch after being slightly injured in an auto accident days before but is ready to go for the rematch.
Zardes, second on the club with 16 goals, said that result has no bearing on this weekend.
“That game is in the past. It was a long time ago,” he said. “They’re going to come out with a different team, more players are healthy. That was so long ago. They’re going to be much stronger and better.
“We jumped right on them, as soon as the whistle blew. We have to have that (approach) every game, not just against Seattle.”
Donovan, who will be playing his final regular season game at StubHub Center on Sunday as retirement looms, said that resounding win could help in at least one respect.
“It gives us confidence,” he said. “We know they’re going to look different then they did that day in Seattle. For whatever reason they were not at their best and we did very well. We expect they will be at their best. When they play at their best it will take our best to beat them. We’ll have to be ready for it if we’re going to win.
“I think it’s just going to be a great series. There’s not many people who would doubt these are the best two teams in the league. We’ve both proven it over the year.”
LA GALAXY vs SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
STUBHUB CENTER, Carson, Calif.
Oct. 19, 2014 (WEEK 32, MLS Game #313)
5:30 p.m. PT (ESPN2/Deportes; TSN2)
The first salvo in the clash for the Supporters' Shield will take place Sunday evening when the LA Galaxy play host to Seattle Sounders FC at StubHub Center. The teams come into the match tied atop the Western Conference and MLS overall table with 60 points each; a victory in Carson and Sounders FC will claim the Shield for the first time ever. Both teams are coming off losses last week, the Galaxy falling 2-1 at FC Dallas to snap a 10-game undefeated run, while Sounders FC lost 1-0 at home to Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who claimed the Cascadia Cup in the process.
REFEREE: Ismail Elfath. SAR (bench): George Gansner; JAR (opposite): Corey Rockwell; 4th: Kevin Stott
MLS Career: 39 games; FC/gm: 25.2; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 11; pens: 12
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: LA: A.J. DeLaGarza … SEA: Brad Evans
FINED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: LA: Baggio Husidic, Omar Gonzalez, Alan Gordon, Landon Donovan, Juninho … SEA: Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle, Obafemi Martins, Gonzalo Pineda, Zach Scott, DeAndre Yedlin, Marco Pappa, Leo Gonzalez
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (13 meetings): Galaxy 6 wins, 19 goals … Sounders FC 3 wins, 12 goals … Ties 4
AT LA (6 meetings): Galaxy 3 wins, 9 goals … Sounders FC 1 win, 4 goals … Ties 2
FUTURE MATCH: 10/25: Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, 11:30 a.m.
7/28: SEA 0, LA 3 (Zardes 8; Donovan 18; Ishizaki 36)
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season, the first in a home-and-home series over the final two weeks to conclude the regular season and decide the Supportersí Shield winner for 2014. On July 28, Landon Donovan scored once and added two assists as the Galaxy stormed to a 3-0 win at CenturyLink Field.
- When the teams played to a 1-1 draw last Sept. 21 at StubHub Center, Sounders FC scored for the first time vs. the Galaxy in five meetings in Carson in league and MLS Cup play, since the 2010 season. The Galaxy victory in the first meeting this season was their first in Seattle since 2011.
- The teams also met in 2012 in the Western Conference Championship, the Galaxy winning 4-2 on aggregate, including a 3-0 win in Carson in the first leg.
- Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. SEA: P13 W6 L3 T4 … Sigi Schmid vs. LA: P19 W6 L7 T6
LAST MEETING (MLS):
- The Galaxy took the lead in just the eighth minute. Landon Donovan was freed behind the Seattle defense and put in a low centering pass that Gyasi Zardes slotted home past Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei from the heart of the penalty area.
- The Galaxy lead was doubled just 10 minutes later when midfielder Marcelo Sarvas blasted a shot that defected off Frei and landed directly in front of a wide-open Donovan, who tapped home the rebound.
- It was 3-0 by the 36th minute. Stefan Ishizaki added the exclamation point, slamming home a feed from Sarvas after finding himself isolated on the right side of the Seattle defense, pushing the margin to the halftime lead that would hold up as the final score.
- SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-1-1): Stefan Frei - DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Jalil Anibaba, Dylan Remick (Micheal Azira 81) - Lamar Neagle (Chad Barrett 46), Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Tristan Bowen 65) - Clint Dempsey - Obafemi Martins
- LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Jaime Penedo - Dan Gargan, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Robbie Rogers - Stefan Ishizaki, Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho (Baggio Husidic 78), Landon Donovan - Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes (Kenney Walker 90).
The LA Galaxy saw their undefeated streak come to an end after 10 games, falling 2-1 to FC Dallas on Sunday evening at Toyota Stadium. The Galaxy sit in a tie for first place in the Western Conference and the MLS overall table with 60 points from 32 games.
- The Galaxy took the lead midway through the first half. Galaxy midfielder Stefan Ishizaki ended up with the ball all by himself on the right side of the FCD penalty area from a half-clearance. and he put a weighted chip softly into the far corner, freezing goalkeeper Chris Seitz for the 22nd-minute opener.
- FC Dallas pulled even in the 52nd minute. Andres Escobar put David Texeira through alone behind the LA defense, and he finished the chance well with a first-time shot past Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
- The game-winner came four minutes from time. After collecting a free ball, Escobar shot from the right side of the Galaxy penalty area, forcing a save from Penedo. But the softly punched clearance went straight to FCD forward Fabian Castillo, and he headed the ball into the open net.
- Galaxy coach Bruce Arena made three changes to the team that rolled to a 3-0 win against Toronto FC at StubHub Center. James Riley came into the back four for Robbie Rogers, Stefan Ishizaki started in midfield in place of Marcelo Sarvas, and Alan Gordon came in up top with Robbie Keane on international duty.
- LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Jaime Penedo - A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo, James Riley (Dan Gargan 57) - Stefan Ishizaki (Jose Villarreal 88), Juninho, Baggio Husidic (Kenney Walker 84), Landon Donovan - Gyasi Zardes, Alan Gordon.
- The Galaxy had their undefeated streak put to an end after 10 games, their first league loss since a 4-1 defeat at Columbus on Aug. 16. The 10-game run without loss was the clubís longest since 2011 and matches the sixth-longest in Galaxy history.
- "We didn't lose control of the game, we lost the game," said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. "We had a lot of control in the second half at times. Itís the sloppy play at the end of the game that makes the difference. We didn't execute over a simple throw-in play. We had some chances. Didn't get it done."
- Said Landon Donovan: "We didn't play great, but we weren't terrible. That game sort of had a winner written all over it after their goal. We just had a series of mistakes, and that one play lead to a goal so it's frustrating, but I think we all knew it would come down to these last two games so that's the way it goes. Itís better to have a wakeup call now than to lose in the playoffs."
- The Galaxy conclude their home league campaign riding a 15-game home undefeated streak, matching the third-longest in the club's history and the longest contained within a single calendar season. The club record is 18 games, set over the end of 2010 season and the start of the 2011 campaign.
- The Galaxy have also won six consecutive home games, and seven consecutive games overall in league play at StubHub Center.
- "It's frustrating, because we could have made it all down to [this] week," Donovan said. "That's frustrating, but it's still completely in our hands. We're going to go in the next two games, we need to get four points, and that's as simple as it gets."
- The Galaxy cannot win their fifth Supporters' Shield – an MLS record – with a victory in their home meeting with Seattle. Sounders FC have secured the tiebreaker with more wins if both teams end with the same number of points.
- "It was an easy goal (for FC Dallas). Too easy to let in. Then it's an even game and anything can happen and it did," said Stefan Ishizaki. "We needed the points. If we get two draws, we win the Supporters' Shield. So obviously, we're very disappointed not getting the point."
- Ishizaki scored his first goal since July 28, making his first start since Sept. 14. His 88-minute shift was his longest since July 28, the first meeting with Seattle, when he played the full 90 minutes.
- A week after making his first appearance since the second game of the season in the third week of March, James Riley made his first start since that game, playing 57 minutes at left back before being forced off.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Seattle Sounders FC saw their two-game winning streak put to an end, falling 1-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Friday evening at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC are still tied for first place in the Western Conference and the MLS overall table with 60 points from 32 games.
- The game's lone goal came just before the halftime interval. Kekuta Manneh found himself all alone on the break off a pass from Pedro Morales, raced downfield into the Seattle penalty area then managed to slot his attempt underneath a lunging Stefan Frei in the Sounders FC goal.
- Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted was credited with two saves in keeping the clean sheet, securing the Cascadia Cup for his club for a second consecutive year.
- Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made one change to the team that defeated the Colorado Rapids 4-1 at Dickís Sporting Goods Park. Leo Gonzalez came into the back four with DeAndre Yedlin on international duty.
- SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-4-2): Stefan Frei - Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Jalil Anibaba (Andy Rose 82), Leo Gonzalez - Marco Pappa (Chad Barrett 62), Osvaldo Alonso, Micheal Azira (Gonzalo Pineda 65), Lamar Neagle - Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins
- Sounders FC saw their brief two-game winning streak come to an end, also shut out at the attacking end after scoring four goals in back-to-back matches.
- "We have a lot to play for. Our goals of [winning] Supporters' Shield hasn't changed and our goal of winning MLS Cup hasn't changed," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. " … We need to take care of business the last two games."
- The loss also put an end to a three-game winning streak at CenturyLink Field, and a five-game undefeated run overall at home. The last Sounders FC loss at home was the 3-0 defeat by the LA Galaxy on July 28.
- "We have to be smart when you play away from home. We can't be all run-and-gun from the first whistle-we can't lose our minds … because we still have the playoffs, and there is no point to going into LA, pushing forward, and getting caught in three counterattacks and losing 3-0 and then we have even more to work on going into the playoffs," said Brad Evans. "Hopefully we will play our style and get a result in a smart way."
- Sounders FC can claim the Supporters' Shield for the first time in club history with a victory in the match at StubHub Center. If they finish level on points with the Galaxy, they have already secured the tiebreaker by having more wins.
- "It's a great thing that we have these two games coming up. This is what it is. It's a playoff game before the playoffs. It'll be a good warmup against the next best team in the league for us. … we have to beat LA twice, or we have to beat and tie them," said Chad Barrett. "It's very doable. We're not panicking or doing anything like that right now, but we definitely have to go back to the drawing board."
- With DeAndre Yedlin away on international duty, Leo Gonzalez returned to the starting lineup for the first time in three matches, since Sept. 24
- Gonzalo Pineda made his first appearance after a three-match absence, coming off the substitutes' bench for the final 25 minutes. He last started a match Sept. 12.
- "He's still being bothered a bit by his foot, that's why you didn't see a lot of balls across field to open the game up, and that's normally something he provides for us as well. At the end, obviously, the adrenaline kicked in and he started hitting free kicks and things like that," said Schmid.
- Chad Barrett also made his first appearance in the last three matches, coming on for the final 28 minutes in a wide attacking role.
- "We felt (Chad) Barrett could play wing, he is a better winger than Cooper is, so that's why we brought him on," said Schmid. "We needed to bring in Pineda because he has good ideas to get in the flow of the game. With Andy Rose we wanted to get three in midfield and you win more balls there."