CARSON, Calif. – It is not a must-win situation the LA Galaxy are facing Sunday in Seattle against the Sounders at CenturyLink Field (6 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes, 1330 AM, LIVECHAT), but a victory definitely would be a welcome result for the two-time defending MLS Cup champions.
The Galaxy (15-11-7, 52 points) are third in the Western Conference behind front-running Real Salt (56 points) and second-place Portland (54 points) as they head into their regular season finale. While they cannot win a record fifth Supporters’ Shield, or finish atop the West, Sunday’s game will go a long way in helping to decide where the club finishes in the final season standings.
The Galaxy’s playoff possibilities appear almost endless. They can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the West with the club focused on getting the win Sunday that would allow them to avoid the Knockout Round (which features the No. 4 seed hosting the No. 5 seed in a single elimination game) and the conference’s top seed in the semifinals.
“Well, it’s a must-win to avoid the play-in game, but we just want to put together a good performance,” said the Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, who played the full 90 minutes against San Jose last weekend after missing the 1-0 win over Montreal with left ankle inflammation. “Obviously we want to do well and we want to play well, but at the end of the day if we have to play in a play-in game then we do. If not, that would be ideal.
“We’ll try to put together a good performance and try to get ourselves ready for the playoffs.”
The same goes for the Sounders who enter the weekend tied for fourth place in the West (along with Colorado) with 51 points. However, the Sounders have been struggling of late and enter Sunday’s game in the midst of a six-game winless streak, going 0-4-2 in the league dating back to their 1-1 draw with the Galaxy on September 21. Seattle had won five straight heading into that game but have been outscored 14-4 during their recent slide. Always boasting one of the biggest home-field advantages in MLS, the Sounders have not won at home in more than a month dating back to a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Sept. 13.
While the Sounders have conceded at least two goals in three of their four games in their current losing streak, they still have a wealth of, albeit struggling, attacking options. Clint Dempsey, who signed with the club in early August, is yet to record a goal or an assist in eight appearances for the club while Eddie Johnson (nine goals) and Nigerian Obafemi Martins (eight goals) have each missed time of late because of injuries.
Johnson’s status for Sunday was further clouded after he missed practice Wednesday with head coach Sigi Schmid telling reporters that Johnson’s absence “was basically my decision”, though he returned to the field on Friday.
The Galaxy’s Sean Franklin said he isn’t expecting anything but the best from the Sounders, despite their recent problems.
“They could be on a 10-game losing streak and still be a tough team to play against,” he said. “It’s a big game for both of us.”
Added Donovan, who needs one goal to become MLS’ all-time leader in goals scored, “They’re still a very good, very talented team and they’re going to have a very good crowd there. They’re going to look to right the ship before the playoffs start.
“There’s a lot riding on this.”