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Sounders at LA Galaxy: Keys to the Game

Four keys to begin the decline of the Galaxy and replace them with a new dynasty, a rave green dynasty of Sounders with a Hall of Fame coach at its head.

Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images

There is no doubt that the LA Galaxy are more than a dynasty. They ruled the roost from 2009 to the present – three MLS Cups, two Supporters' Shields, 3 regular season Western Conference best records, a loss in the MLS Cup Finals, a trip to the CONCACAF Champions League semis.

Bruce Arena's Galaxy were an empire. Their rulers were Beckham, Donovan, and Keane. Their lieutenants are well known - Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, Eskandarian, Buddle, Magee, Juninho, Sarvas. They were as big a soccer club as can exist in the United States. The superclub would sit back and absorb the damage and then lash out rapidly in waves of attack. LA didn't fear. They caused fear.

But there are holes now, big empty holes. Gone are Beckham and Donovan. Gone are Sarvas, Magee, and Eskandarian. Now they absorb, but there is no lashing out.

Oh, they raise the five fingered hand proudly, a pride they thoroughly deserve.

However, in 2015, the LA Galaxy are cross dependent and long ball prone. Things are so off, their fans are cursing Saturdays. Who curses Saturdays‽ Evil empires curse Saturdays.

It is time to topple that empire. It cannot happen in one match, but one match can start the fall. Sunday could be our Adrianople. It will take strong play in four areas to start that fall - win the air, a jaeger, defensive control at the top of area, exploit Rogers.

Win the air

This gets a lot easier if Andy Rose plays. He dominates in the air and provides a third air control piece to Sigi's board. LA's Omar Gonzalez is on par with Chad Marshall in the air. If the Galaxy don't have either Meyer or Leonardo in their lineup, then the Sounders will have two players with advantages in set-piece situations, as well as their opportunists ready to pick up the scrap or the popular far-post-to-near-post header.

A Jaeger

Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are great together. This is known. They are great playing up top; they are great dropping back. When the Sounders are great they have more than those two scoring. Marco Pappa or Lamar Neagle breaking out their scoring boots, or joining in the flick-on parade, should help. LA sits with two deeper CMs, so swarming over them with the foot skills of Clint/Oba/Marco creates a weapon that Gonzalez isn't fast enough to stop. If Seattle brings back that attack that unfolds like an origami mech Omar's partner will have to be perfect to prevent shots on goal.

Defensive control at the top of the area

On a team with Osvaldo Alonso this should not be hard. But control is about command and communication. Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes will drop into space behind Ozzie and force one of Brad Evans or Chad Marshall out to cover them. If both drop back only one of Evans/Marshall can step up. Since Evans still thinks like a midfielder, he is most likely to make that step. His communication with Alonso and Marshall, and the possible help from the fullbacks and other CM, will be vital. When Evans steps it creates angles that Keane and Zardes can exploit. If he doesn't those men can run at he and Chad with the ball at their feet.

Exploit Robbie Rogers

Like any fullback on Jurgen Klinsmann's radar, or who should be on his radar, Rogers is pretty good at going forward. He's not good at crossing the ball and his defense is adequate. Tyrone Mears and Marco Pappa can work together to exploit his absence, or just his inability to defend well. Whether Seattle is winning the air war or not, Mears/Pappa can slip into the 18 through short game interplay, where they'll be able to hit Dempsey and Martins as they exploit the Gonzalez/AJ pairing.

None of this is easy. None of it assures a win. It certainly does not assure that the greatest empire MLS has seen will fall.

It is a start, and a necessary one. There is a large monkey on Seattle's back. It wears blue, gold and five rings. Besting them in the regular season, the Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League will knock them down. It is in November and December when they will truly fall.

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