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Galaxy have initiative, Sigi Schmid needs to take it

"Roll for Initiative" is a fateful phrase in turn-based gaming. Sigi Schmid doesn't need to count on random dice. His Sounders can seize the initiative and the Shield.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Galaxy are the better team than Seattle. It's hard to say, but the metrics make it pretty clear. While Seattle Sounders FC have more wins, so hold the initiative (that word is about to be used a lot) in the Supporters' Shield race the Galaxy have the edge in actual Goal Difference, expected Goal Difference and tempo-free excepted Goal Difference. They are also at home for the first of the non-aggregate series to end the season.

Higher quality and with the initiative - that would lead to a massive, pressure packed game next Saturday.

Sigi Schmid needs to take that initiative away as quickly as possible. Home-field advantage is just under half a goal in this goal-rich MLS season. Math says that a goal by Seattle in the first 15 minutes of the match not only erases that advantage it would mean that even a draw becomes more likely than an LA win just a couple moments later.

early goal changes game

That's a sample from a Win Expectancy graph based on the current season numbers.

Initiative in soccer is not a random roll of the dice. A home team generally has it. The better team generally has it. Soccer is clearly not a turn-based game (baseball and football). It does not have the massive amount of goals that basketball has. Even this year's higher scoring MLS season doesn't have the goals that hockey does.

Soccer is what it is. A single goal changes games, even in probable shootouts. Sigi has some ways to take the initiative from LA, to capture that first goal.

  1. Attack the flanks with the dribble - LA can guard the air in the middle quite well, so instead go at the backline from the ground. Seattle's skilled players can drift wide in a triangle that includes two of Oba/Clint/Marco and Yedlin or Gonzalez as appropriate to the side of the field.
  2. Take shots from distance - Sounders are really good at this already, and take the appropriate amount of shots, but the Galaxy have two weaknesses that this exploits. Penedo can be a slapper rather than catcher (Seattle poaches well) and they are only adequate at defending corners.
  3. Early action - LA starts matches quite well, but if Sigi and team grant them the initiative than the sacrifice it for the full 90, basically the 180 minutes in which they need merely two points. Do not accept the circumstances, create them.
  4. Press from attackers - Seattle's attack at times press upon the turnover and the next pass. They must do that. The Galaxy backline+keeper send 50% more inaccurate long balls than Seattle's expected starters.

"Roll for Initiative" sometimes comes as a surprise, or with dread. Initiative is known. In the first 15-minutes of Sunday's game Seattle can reclaim the initiative - no dice needed.

PS - Hydras are a legendary creatures. They can act out of turn and so initiative doesn't matter quite as much as it does to mere mortals.

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