What You’ll Watch
The Seattle Sounders will look to set a team record with a sixth straight win and extended their unbeaten streak to nine games when they host the LA Galaxy this Saturday at CenturyLink Field. This is the first of two meetings, and the only one in Seattle, this regular season.
The Galaxy sit in fourth place in the West with a record of 10-8-7 (37 points in 25 games played; 1.48 ppg) while the Sounders sit in eighth place with a record of 9-9-5 (32 points in 23 games played; 1.39 ppg). Last time out, the Sounders beat FC Dallas 2-1, while the Galaxy drew 2-2 against Colorado on Tuesday night.
The Sounders are right in the thick of things with 11 games to go. Every single point is crucial at this juncture of the season. If everything falls correctly for Seattle this weekend, with a win they could head into next week’s match in the sixth and final playoff spot.
A Look at the Enemy
Last Five: D-W-L-D-D with 11 goals scored and 11 conceded
Leading Goal Scorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 15 goals (four on the road)
Assist Leader: Ibrahimovic, seven assists (three on the road)
Injury Report, Suspensions and International Duty
Out: Rolf Feltscher (shoulder surgery), Romain Alessandrini (knee injury), Giovani dos Santos (leg injury), Jonathan dos Santos (groin injury), and Michael Ciani (hamstring injury)
Too scared of turf to play: Ibrahimovic
International Duty: N/A
Out: Jordan Morris (torn ACL)
Questionable: Handwalla Bwana (right midfoot sprain) and Clint Dempsey (low back pain)
International Duty: N/A
REFEREE: Mark Geiger
AR1: Frank Anderson
AR2: Mike Rottersman
4th: Dave Gantar
VAR: Younes Marrakchi
What to Watch
It’s hard to make too much of a guess what former Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid will do this weekend. Go check out that injury list again; that’s a lot of quality missing! On top of that, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said he’s not particularly interested in playing on turf. The Galaxy wouldn’t be toothless without him, more like just wearing dentures.
Normally, theirs is an offense that takes more of its shots from inside the 18 than almost any team in the league; they are certainly not a team that will fast break you to death. The Galaxy play a cross-heavy style, leaning to right side for many of their attacks; when you’re playing with Ola Kamara and Ibrahimovic, you probably would, too. What you probably wouldn’t expect, however, is that after Ibrahimovic the next two leading providers of assists are left back Ashley Cole and defensive midfielder Chris Pontius.
The biggest problem Schmid will run into is he’s typically covered previous absences by these players with others on the injury list. There’s just no way for him to run out threatening players at every position; he’s probably going to have to start one or two players out of position as it is, and switch up the tactics substantially, all on short rest.
The Galaxy do, of course, have the option to bunker in and try to eke out a result by weathering the Seattle attack. It’s much less hard to implement a defensive bunker than offensive movements on short rest. The general perception this season — and not without reason — is that the Galaxy defense has been terrible. It struggled mightily early on, but has settled into a just-good-enough groove over the middle third of the year to provide the offense with sufficient support to out-gun their opponents. Without those guns up front it’s an open question whether they’ll be able to keep the Sounders from kicking down the door and spending the entire match sitting in their living room.
All things considered, LA will be pleased to come away with a a tie. The Sounders will almost certainly once again need to figure out how to deal with a packed box and an opponent without much interest in opening up the field. That’s something they’ve done well over their current streak, and it should continue.
- Impose your will - with so much uncertainty around what the LA tactical setup will be, this is as good a time as any for Seattle to show the strengths of their game plan and talent and force the offense down their throat.
- Don’t let up - regardless of who is missing, the Galaxy are a late game team. Regardless of who is missing, Sigi Schmid undoubtedly has some extra motivation. Regardless of who is missing, this is a big game for the standings. The Sounders can’t have lapses of concentration that let LA steal a result.
- Be as good as the result - in spite of the string of results, Seattle hasn’t been playing amazing soccer (don’t get it twisted — I’m not saying they’re bad, just not doing as well as they could or should be). They’ve been carried through this largely on the back of the defense, and I’m strongly of the opinion the offense hasn’t been playing near the level of its production. That’s ok for now, particularly if the results keep coming, but can’t go on forever. This is a great match to build some legitimate, defense-shredding offensive opportunities.
How to Watch
Date/Time: Saturday, August 18 @ 1:00 PM
Location: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
Streaming: YouTube TV
Radio: 950 KJR AM (English), El Rey 1360AM (Spanish)