Bruce Arena always wins. He takes a roster that on paper looks disorganized, slow, and incompatible and wins. They start slow and take off, every year. Look at who they rely on - Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Jelle Van Damme. Pace is reserved for a handful of youngsters like Gyasi Zardes. An interesting mix of well-aged, slow and calm veterans with quick but incredibly inexperienced youth and yet he wins. Last time Seattle played LA in the regular season, they lost with Clint Dempsey being double-teamed and marked out of the match. No one else found the glaring holes that opened up to get a ball in the back of the net. Those holes will be there again.
LA is going to give up possession, unlike previous years where they had a quest to hold the ball combined with a press for quick counter attacks when they turned it over, they love to just counter now. They trap forwards and wait for turnovers at midfield to release Giovanni Dos Santos and Gyasi Zardes down the flank, get into box or find Robbie Keane for a finish. Bad back passes are certain death. LA either floods the scoreboard or finds nothing, it all depends how much ammunition you give them.
Defensively, the trap ensures your best forward doesn't smell the goal or touches the ball, i.e. Clint Dempsey. They will make secondary players beat them. The flanks are open with usually a converted CB playing RB and CBs that can't spread wide to help on the wing. At LB Robbie Rodgers has some speed and is dangerous in the attack but defending is not instinct. Rodgers is out with ankle surgery, meaning we will likely see Dave Romney again. He is timid defensively and not strong in the attack, though will make runs anyway. He’s young and it shows with lapses in judgement and focus. We’ll see it a few times this match and it will be more abundant with tracking late runners. Seattle had chances against these defense but without strong involvement from Deuce, they were lacking quality.
The center of the park went from bruising Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas to Gerrard and Nigel de Jong. That shift has lead to space and fouls being plentiful but last match the Sounders failed to utilize it. Cristian Roldan’s usage and freedom in recent matches (with Alonso on the field) has been a revelation and he should be able to make things happen. If Lodeiro or Flaco sub on, they will as well. The pivotal player is not Clint Dempsey, it is Jordan Morris. If Deuce can't find space, what will Jordan do? If he makes back shoulder runs or occupies defenders to open space for Deuce, Valdez, AI, etc. then the Sounders will find the goal.
I think Schmetzer makes a lot of small adjustments and it works. The players are galvanized. Nicholas Lodeiro subs on and creates a goal. Seattle wins, 2-0.
Galaxy- Rowe, DeLaGarza, Steres, Van Damme, Romney, Larentowicz, Gerrard, De Jong, Zardes, Dos Santos, Keane
Sounders- Frei, Mears, Evans, Marshall, Jones, Roldan, Alonso, Ivanschitz, Valdez, Dempsey, Morris