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Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy: Three Questions

Sigi’s backline is in disarray.

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Results did not go the Seattle Sounders’ way on Saturday. Portland beat NYCFC and so Seattle are merely second in the Western Conference. At 6 PM tonight, on FS1, they have the opportunity to retake first place. In their way are the LA Galaxy, now led by Sigi Schmid. Brian Schmetzer has a nearly full selection, with only Brad Evans out for injury and Nouhou suspended for his red card.

The Galaxy are much worse off. One top defender transferred away. Another tore his ACL. Robbie Rogers (left foot), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Baggio Husidic (foot) all remain unavailable as well.

Schmid’s work is cut out for him as he returns to Seattle for the first time coaching against the Seattle Sounders. Brian Schmetzer is trying to extend a 11-game unbeaten run.

Mike from LAG Confidential answers Three Questions.

SaH: How can the defense cope with the losses of Jelle Van Damme and Pele Van Anholt?

LAGC: Losing Pele was huge. The season might be over, but Van Anholt is not projected to return until the late spring.

Should he return (his contract expires at the end of the year), Van Anholt would probably need until the midpoint of the season to achieve full fitness. So there's a hole there. And incumbent right back Bradley Diallo is not the answer.

New CB signing Michael Ciani has been training with LA this week, and is projected to start alongside Daniel Steres. However Ciani lacks fitness, and the pairing of Steres and Dave Romney have quietly formed a working chemistry the last few games, so we might not see Ciani on Sunday.

SaH: How does Jonathan dos Santos fit into the squad?

LAGC: It's far too early to tell. We won't know for sure until 2018 when familiar faces return and an anticipated roster rebuild takes place.

A frustrating pattern I've witnessed the past few seasons is a tendency on the Galaxy's part to play their star pieces out of position: Gyasi Zardes has been shuttled to the wing and as a No. 9, when he works best paired with another forward up top. Sebastian Lletget started on the wing before thriving as a two way midfielder. Where to play Gio is still a mystery.

With LA blowing up the squad this winter it would be beneficial for the Galaxy to correct this pattern, which leads to the original question: How does Jona fit into the squad? You can probably pencil in Jona and Sebastian Lletget at the No. 6 and 8 positions. The younger dos Santos did well at Villarreal as a two way midfielder and on the wing, and Lletget can play both positions as well. It's up to Sigi to figure out which combination works best.

SaH: Is Sigi going to get more control over roster decisions?

LAGC: Absolutely. Not to start rumors, but Galaxy general manager Peter Venegas has been referred to as the "Teacher's Pet" during Schmid's original tenure in LA, when Pete was a player. It wouldn't be surprising if Sigi held considerable influence over the roster rebuild this winter, much like Bruce Arena when he was in charge.

Projected lineup: 4-2-3-1 Jon Kempin, Ashley Cole, Daniel Steres, Dave Romney, Bradley Diallo, Joao Pedro, Jonathan dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng, Gyasi Zardes

LAGC: Obviously it was disappointing when Joevin Jones skipped town to participate in World Cup qualifying with Trinidad and Tobago. Brian Schmetzer had strong words for the left back, stating Jones had to prove his commitment. Is the matter settled, or does Schmetzer keep Jones out of the lineup to make a point?

SaH: There's a chance that Schmetzer benches Jones, which would be a mistake. Joevin Jones is the best left back in the league, this year. For a team that can be first in the West and that should target 3rd in the Shield hunt they need talent. It is especially important to start Jones because Nouhou, his backup, is out with a red card suspension.

Now, the team still needs to be harsh to Joevin. They cannot afford to have key players abandoning them during important stretches. Seattle only earned two 1-1 draws while he was off in Trinidad & Tobago. His presence likely bumps one or both of those up to a win. So there must be significant punishment as a deterrent for future players doing the same. I do not know if a fine would be enough.

LAGC: How has new signing Víctor Rodríguez looked in Rave Green?

SaH: Take Marco Pappa's attacking technique and play it on fast forward. V8 is an exceptional ball-handler with wonderful vision. His touch is among the best in the league. Plus, everything he does in the central third is about getting the ball into the final third as quickly as possible. Rodriguez pushes the pace at all opportunities. He loves the transition game. His defense is adequate though his size may be a disadvantage at times. On top of that he is one of the best direct kick takers on the team, already.

He was the perfect addition and only cost TAM money.

LAGC: Sigi's back! (We can both assume he'll have some kind of gameplan for stopping his former pupils) What kind of reception do you think he'll receive?

SaH: I hope that people will applaud with vigor when he is announced and then boo his team. No one should ever underestimate what Sigi Schmid did for the Seattle Sounders. His contributions to this organization are immense. At the same time, he's with the LA Galaxy now. Anything beyond the introductions is overkill. The Seattle Sounders need points and they have Brian Schmetzer, a man who I love beyond soccer.

Project Lineup: Frei; Jones, Marshall, Torres, Leerdam; Alonso, Roldan; Rodriguez, Dempsey, Lodeiro; Morris

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