A month ago the Seattle Sounders crushed the LA Galaxy. A few things have changed since that 5-0 thrashing. Zlatan Ibrahimivic plays at home, but not on turf. Sigi Schmid quit/was fired. Dominic Kinnear took over. LA no longer looks like a team capable of making the MLS Cup Playoffs.
FS1 will get what they want for their 4 PM match Sunday — lots of goals. LA has eight matches scoring 3 or more goals and ten games giving up 3 or more goals. Seattle is unbeaten in their last six matches against the Galaxy.
Mike Gray from LAG Confidential answers Three Questions.
SaH: If Dom Kinnear can put his mark on this team, what will it be?
LAGC: That’s a good question. I was expecting tidiness on the ball and an improved defensive performance, and yet on Dom’s debut the Galaxy conceded five goals to TFC so the back line is still very much a work in progress.
One thing with Zlatan is he can thrive off direct play, so fixing the team is basically a matter of fixing the defense. Of course, that’s a big “If”.
SaH: Who would be the biggest beneficiary of the Galaxy adopting the LAFC/Union idea of playing attacking players as defensive midfielders?
LAGC: Jonathan dos Santos. The El Tri regular has the range and tenacity to influence the midfield and the dexterity to make something happen in the final third.
SaH: What will Zlatan’s reaction be when he finishes second in the MVP race?
LAGC: Zlatan doesn’t finish second. Zlatan would remind you he didn’t arrive until April and has more goals than Josef Martinez has games.
Projected Lineup: Bingham; A.Cole, Skjelvic, Romney, Feltscher; Pontius, Kitchen, J. dos Santos; O.Kamara, Zlatan, Alessandrini
LAGC: Raúl Ruidíaz suffered an ankle sprain Wednesday night vs. the Union. Will the former Morelia star be available on Sunday?
SaH: It should be expected that he will be questionable. He’s jogged on the side in limited training late in the week and could make an appearance, though I would expect as a substitute. Coach Brian Schmetzer tends to be coy with player health, and the club will wait until the last minute to make a decision on their pricey DP.
LAGC: We can’t help but notice the correlation of Ruidiaz’s injury and Seattle’s nine game win streak coming to an end. How has the Peruvian Designated Player transformed the attack?
SaH: His addition didn’t make the Seattle Sounders attack amazing. It’s merely adequate now (yes, I know that the team has averaged 2.2 goals in matches he’s played). But with such a great defense a middling attack is good enough. What Raul offers is quality finishing, the ability to stretch the field and the best defensive pressure that Seattle’s ever had from a regular starting forward. If you get some time during the match watch what he’s doing off the ball when Seattle is in possession. His movement helps open passing lanes that target other players, and himself. It also gives space for the midfield to work underneath him. The dark, grey offense that started the season now has hope and light.
LAGC: The second ever voting process has begun for Garth Lagerwey as Sounders season ticket holders decide whether to keep the current general manager. Do you believe he’ll be retained? (Because if not, I know a guy…)
SaH: He won’t get the massive vote that Adrian Hanauer got. The expectations are higher now than they were then, and Lagerwey wasn’t the owner who brought top flight soccer back to Seattle. At the same point, the voting started shortly after the Sounders won their 9th straight match. Seattle is almost certainly going back to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the 10th straight year and Garth oversaw an MLS Cup win and another appearance in the MLS Cup Final. That’s a great resume.
What he’s combating in his retention vote is a vocal element of the fanbase who are tired of feeling like the first half of the season doesn’t matter. These people are rightly frustrated at the past results in the early season, whether Lagerwey is to blame for the struggles or not. I expect Garth will get about 65-70% support in the vote, no where near a chance that he isn’t retained.
Predicted Lineup: Frei; Nouhou, Kim, Torres, Leerdam; Alonso, Svensson; Rodriguez, Lodeiro, C.Roldan; Bruin