SEATTLE – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano provides his Three Points to Sunday’s Western Conference Championship Second Leg between the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC.
WEATHER THE STORM
Up three goals on aggregate, the LA Galaxy are well-aware that they’re set to face an onslaught from Seattle Sounders FC once the opening whistle sounds at CenturyLink Field.
Due to their deficit, Sounders FC must come out from the start and attempt to pepper the Galaxy defense as they look to claw their way back into the series. Seattle will likely be aided in this pursuit by the return of Mauro Rosales and Eddie Johnson to the starting lineup after injuries limited them in the first leg. The duo has enjoyed plenty of success against the Galaxy this season with Rosales notching three assists while Johnson scored in each of the previous meetings between these two sides at CenturyLink Field.
For the Galaxy to survive –and potentially shut down— the Seattle attack, LA’s defense will need to continue their proactive approach from the first leg. Throughout the match, LA’s back four consistently pressured Seattle’s Fredy Montero rendering him a non-factor while goalkeeper Josh Saunders’ willingness to come off his line to snag crosses resulted in the end of many Seattle scoring opportunities.
BALANCED APPROACH BEST
As the San Jose Earthquakes can attest, a defensive-first mindset can be incredibly dangerous for a team looking to hold a lead heading into a decisive second leg. For this reason, it is imperative that the LA Galaxy to adapt a balanced approach in Seattle.
From the start, Seattle is expected to pressure the Galaxy in search of three goals, but what LA do with that pressure will decide which team advances to MLS Cup. While there is temptation to hurl numbers into the box in hope of sneaking out with a result, the Galaxy flourished last Sunday utilizing their counter attack to hit back at Sounders FC when the momentum turned Seattle’s way, scoring two goals on the counter.
As Seattle looks to overwhelm LA, the Galaxy’s ability to strike back through the use of wide play of players like Christian Wilhelmsson, Mike Magee and Sean Franklin will be pivotal to the Galaxy if they are to advance to their third MLS Cup in four years.
WILL INJURIES TAKE THEIR TOLL ON LA?
After a grueling seven games in 22 days, the LA Galaxy received their first week-long rest between games since the mid-October international break, but whether the team will be fully healthy for Sunday’s second leg remains to be seen.
The Galaxy are currently nursing a number of injuries heading into the Conference Championship Second Leg, with the most notable being captain Landon Donovan, who is battling tightness in his right hamstring. Donovan isn’t alone on the injury report as Juninho (right Achilles inflammation) and Edson Buddle (left plantar inflammation) are also injury question marks. However, head coach Bruce Arena has remained confident throughout the week that his stars would be available for selection on Sunday.
If LA’s walking wounded are unable to suit up, expect Bruce Arena to inject a mix of youth and experience into the lineup with players like Marcelo Sarvas, Pat Noonan and Jose Villarreal likely options to slide into the squad.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com