At this point the basics are pretty well known. Seattle Sounders FC hold the advantage in the Supporters' Shield race. A win or a draw and they earn their first ever MLS trophy. They get this opportunity at home (which is essentially a half goal advantage). NBC is carrying the game on its broadcast channel, right after their EPL games for the weekend. That will lead to strong ratings and amazing rants on social media.
It is a massive game with thousands of tickets still available. The weather will be poor, but about 70% of the seats at CenturyLink are under a roof. There's time for you to be able to watch a game with a few truly world class players on the pitch. There is a trophy on the line.
SaH: How bad is the forced change from Omar Gonzalez to Leonardo (or someone else?) going to be for LA?
LAGC: The off the cuff reaction anyone with eyeballs is sure to have will undoubtedly be to support the notion that this will go quite badly. I'm going to borrow a line from Lee Corso here: Not so fast, my friend.
Leonardo has nineteen starts at center back this season. That means while he can be assigned direct blame for at least four points that the Galaxy would like to have back, he's also been a big part of the +34 goal differential LA has enjoyed this year. According to the incredibly relevant Castrol Index, Leonardo's actually a better player this season then DeLaGarza.
Facetiousness aside, all together I'm just glad it was Gonzalez that got the red card and not DeLaGarza. The biggest issues have arisen when Gonzalez and Leonardo started next to each other, as their styles are too similar. Leo is going to get himself into strange positions and he needs a quick partner who can clean up his messes. LA's best chance is to keep the amount of shots against down with better midfield play.
SaH: What went well for LA on Sunday?
LAGC: The part where they scored the two goals and everyone was happy was pretty nice. I wonder if there are people who had fancy dinner parties to go to who left before the hour mark and think LA did really well in that win. The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! How happy...
What went well and led to that blameless vestal start was Dan Gargan and Baggio Husidic playing well as Seattle locked down Landon Donovan's channel. Juninho did his usual workhorse bit controlling things in the middle, and DeLaGarza behind him was the sweeper just sweeping up any Sounder litter that blew into his path.
SaH: Any chance that Bruce Arena just rolls over or does he want this trophy?
LAGC: Outside of the US Open Cup, and CCL away ties, I've never seen Bruce Arena acknowledge a change of conditions with his lineup, his substitutions, or anything else. The man is brilliant, I know he knows the situation and what's required, but it's always about the best players on the field and nothing more.
It's something that can be quite frustrating. We've reached a point where Alan Gordon is his first substitution no matter the situation. It hurt LA playing Seattle, as his best players philosophy left Gyasi Zardes in the game even though he's not effective from the midfield.
However, it also meant sticking with Zardes through the early period, so it tends to work in the long term even if there are short term frustrations. Arena is going to put a lineup out that he feels can win. God help us, he might even just get it done. With Leonardo! That man's a genius.
SaH: Sigi starts every game playing for a win. Only in cases of extreme injury waves has he slapped together a conservative lineup just trying to steal a single point. There's been a less than a six-pack of those so far in his six year Sounders history, but most have come in the Playoffs. That is probably why they are memorable.
On Saturday the team will go for the win. There's no reason to hold back. They have the advantage and they're healthy.
LAGC: What did you see as key to the Sounders' comeback?
SaH: I saw three things being key. Limiting the effectiveness of LA's scoring trio (you need a nickname for them). If the Galaxy can't figure out how to threaten through those guys this week and need goals from the lesser players Seattle will be just fine. Part of that was Yedlin's new role as a defender first who can burst forward at chosen times with devastating purpose. Also, if he continues to defend high on the pitch that will create turnovers in more threatening areas. Lastly, ObafeMiVP Martins is a creative force. If he can create danger from wide and narrow areas while still getting plenty of scoring opportunities Seattle's attack will score.
LAGC: How much do you think the MVP award matters to Obafemi Martins? He certainly gained an edge last week, and a great performance here would almost seal it.
SaH: Oba likes fancy things. This is a man who took old tops from kits and uses them to upholster his chairs. I don't know what the MVP trophy looks like, but I'm quite intrigued by what Martins could do with it. I guess that means it would mean a lot to me.
I don't get the feeling that Oba cares if he gets the MVP. He does care about scoring a lot of goals and helping Clint score a lot of goals. If he does that again this weekend he'll probably get the award.