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Sounders catching Galaxy at opportune time

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Chad Marshall knows what to expect from a Sigi-Schmid-coached team. He played for him for 10 years.

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

TUKWILA, Wash. — Outside of the regional rivalry that naturally arises between Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, Sounders matches against the LA Galaxy have often been among the most hotly contested due to both teams’ traditions of success. That rivalry continues Saturday with the two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions.

Chad Marshall is one of the best-equipped Sounders to speak about the ongoing feud with the Galaxy, given his Southern California upbringing, his time in Seattle, and a long career playing under former Seattle head coach and current LA boss Sigi Schmid that dates back to 2006.

“I think the playoff series in 2014 and 2015 stick out to me,” Marshall offered as definitive moments in the rivalry. “That was my first year here in ‘14. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I thought that ’14 conference final was really MLS Cup. I thought whoever won that was going to go on to win. They got the shot off the post to tie and then they won on away goals. It was nice to get them back the next year on the play-in game, and we haven’t had too many [playoff] games against them since then.

“They’re always a good team. They’re loaded with talent and they always seem to put it together at the right time. There’s a lot of storylines to it.”

The Galaxy fell on hard times in 2017, winning just two of their final 18 matches of the season and finishing dead last in the combined league standings.

Now, after a slow start that was reversed by superb play and 15 goals from Zlatan Ibrahimović, the Galaxy appear to be cooling. LA is now winless in three, all against teams currently out of playoff position. The latest result was a tie at home on Tuesday to the Colorado Rapids on the back of an 82nd-minute concession to 22-year-old forward Niki Jackson. The Galaxy also lost to the Rapids on Aug. 4.

Throw in a home draw against Minnesota United over the weekend, along with injuries to both dos Santos brothers, Romain Allesandrini and defender Michael Ciani, and it appears that not all is well in Carson. Ibrahimović said after the latest gaffe against Colorado that the Galaxy don’t deserve to make the playoffs with their current run of form.

For the Sounders, Saturday marks a chance to further derail LA. The feat will not be simple; Schmid has not yet lost to his former club, managing two draws in 2017, one just three days after replacing the fired Curt Onalfo as the Galaxy head coach.

“[Schmid] is always able to put together a quality team,” Marshall said. “He’s got a lot of talent. He’s a good recruiter. He’s got a lot of veterans that he relies on to find the game and figure it out. They’re always going to battle and be a tough team. He always likes to go forward and score goals. They’re a talented team on the attacking side of the ball for sure.”

Still, LA looks ripe at the back for another multigoal performance from Seattle. The Galaxy have now allowed at least two goals in each of their past five and eight of their past 10. If the Sounders, who have outscored opponents 11-3 in their last five matches (all wins), can keep things clicking in the final third, they would find themselves just two points behind the currently third-place Galaxy with two games in hand.