Sigi Schmid was quite clear. The goal in today's match (2pm, ESPN) is not to win, but to set up a victory in the series. Beating the LA Galaxy goes a long way towards that, but there are many paths to winning a two-leg series that counts aggregate away goals.
The attitude is to come out of Game 1 being in position to win it in Game 2. So if that means you win the game in Game 1, you're in great position in Game 2. If you tie the game, you're also in good position. If you lose the game and you get an away goal, you're in better position than if you lose the game 1-0. But the main thing is to come out of Game 1 in a position to win it in Game 2, because every time we've had Game 2 at home, we've done well.
What is the best way to do that?
Control Landon Donovan
The greatest player who played a majority of his career in this league dominated RSL. But against Seattle he has not fared as well. Most of that is thanks to the way Evans and Yedlin have covered him. They were quite successful in the last meeting and must do it again.
Taking advantage of width
The contest between the wide players went Seattle's way in two of the three previous meetings between the two teams. But, again, RSL couldn't control the LA fullbacks and Donovan. Seattle has to have a great day from Leo Gonzalez, who sits on a yellow. Seattle plays at its best when it gets Yedlin and at least one wide midfielder forward. But against the Galaxy they've been cautious with that. The thing is that a road goal (or two, please two) in a tie is a huge result. So use the advantage of DeAndre Yedlin. He could have only two games left. Let's see the Yedlin that earned him that contract.
A vicious magical thief
LA and Seattle have so many similarities in roster construction. Donovan, Keane, Zardes are in many ways similar to how Oba, Clint and Lamar played this year. The forward off the bench is a bruiser (Barrett v Gordon). Both defenses are built around an air traffic control specialist. The central mids are a CDM and a box-to-box CM. Each has a strong leftback. There is one primary difference between the two teams in how the roster is constructed.
Pappa is a multi-class wizard/thief, the Latino MLS Player of the Year and capable of being a game changer.
The dynamic duo for Seattle has yet to put up numbers like other MLS stars have in the Playoffs. Their games are strong, but the finishing just hasn't been there. Both have tempers that seem to fuel greatness. This is the time for that. Sure, this is narrative, but this is Clint's league now. Martins could be the MVP. It's time to prove it.
Three very valuable LA players are a card away from suspension. A leg two without Donovan, Gonzalez and/or Rogers would be very similar to the Shield win at home. Each has shown that they are prone to mental errors. One today is series shifting. But, Leo also sits with a yellow and Seattle's depth at left back is not enough to win the West. He can not afford to make that error today.