The Seattle Sounders close out their 2021 home regular-season schedule tonight against the LA Galaxy. It’s not a mathematical must-win game in any sense, but the Sounders do need to get this thing head back in the right direction if they don’t want to waste what had been a spectacular season up until a couple weeks ago.
Here’s what we’re hoping to see:
The Sounders are 11-0-1 in regular-season home finales in their history, including a seven-game winning streak. Continuing that trend is particularly important. Despite their best efforts, the Sounders are still very much alive for the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference thanks to Sporting KC’s loss to Minnesota United on Sunday. A win against the Galaxy would not only put them back at the top of the conference, but maybe more importantly would ensure they finish no worse than the No. 2 spot. In addition to securing home-field at least through the conference finals, the No. 2 team in the West is also guaranteed a spot in the 2022 Concacaf Champions League. These are all good things! — Jeremiah
Run right by him
The long-awaited return of Jordan Morris is finally here. The Mercer Island product has been out since the start of the season with a torn ACL, an injury he suffered while on loan in the English Championship with Swansea City. I don’t think I could pick a better match for Morris to return to the field than one against the LA Galaxy. He has five goals and two assists against the Galaxy in 10 matches, including this meme-worthy effort that saw him leave Daniel Steres in the dust.
It’s uncertain home many minutes Morris will get tonight. But can you imagine if he scores in his return? Now that’s definitely a thing we’d like to see. — Mark
Getting the band back together
The recent plummet in form for the Sounders has coincided with a lot of absences of first-choice players. Raúl Ruidíaz hasn’t played since coming off at halftime of the Sept. 29 against San Jose because of a hamstring injury. João Paulo missed the match against LAFC because of a suspension. Nicolas Lodeiro has been absent for most of the season with a knee injury, and hasn’t started since Sept. 11. It’s possible that all three of them could start tonight. After four straight losses, these guys are definitely a sight for sore eyes. — Mark
Defense, defense, defense
Brian Schmetzer’s teams are usually built back to front, with solid defense being the standard he expects from his teams. The Sounders haven’t exactly been bad in that regard over this four-game winless run, but the eight goals they’ve allowed is the most they’ve given up in any four-game stretch since 2019, and their five games without a shutout is the longest such streak this year. Maybe even more important than putting up a big number on offense is keeping it tight in the back. — Jeremiah
Dominate the Galaxy
Since Brian Schmetzer took over as head coach in 2016, Seattle is 7-1-5 against the LA Galaxy. That includes a 3-0-2 record at Lumen Field, including a 3-0 win earlier this year. The Sounders have outscored the Galaxy 29-15 in those matches. Four of those matches have been clean sheets and the Galaxy have been held to 1 goal or less in 9 matches. It’s safe to say Schmetzer has a firm grip on whoever is on the touchline in LA, and even more so now that it’s Greg Vanney. Of course, he’s the manager that’s lost twice to Seattle in the MLS Cup final. Tonight needs to be a display of continued dominance. — Mark