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Preview: LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

Two teams trending in different directions face off

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at LA Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Once the marquee matchup in MLS, LA Galaxy vs the Seattle Sounders has become a one way affair in recent years. Just like the team that the Sounders played last week, the Galaxy aren’t very good. The extent to which the Galaxy have become not good, especially against Seattle, is of course a welcomed development after a decade or so of fierce competition. The Sounders are undefeated in their last nine fixtures against LA (5W, 4D) and no team has ever gone 10 matches unbeaten against the Galaxy. Can Seattle make history this weekend?

One key stat

100 - Brian Schmetzer is one win away from 100 career MLS wins. He’d be the third fastest coach to reach that milestone behind Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley.

What the Sounders will try to do

Given how bad the Galaxy are at the one thing they do, I wonder if we’ll see a bit of a different approach from Seattle this weekend. The two most impressive performances (COL, @SKC) from the early returns of this season came against teams that tried to press them and failed. The Galaxy aren’t going to do that because they might be the worst pressing team in the league.

So, with that in mind, I wonder if we’ll see a strategy akin to an older sibling picking on their younger brother. You know the classic scenario where the smaller and younger kid is swinging with all their might while the older and stronger holds their hand on the forehead? Well, the soccer tactics equivalent of this scenario is allowing the Galaxy to commit their wingers and fullbacks forward, Yeimar and Ragen heading away every cross, and the Sounders absolutely ruining them in transition.

What Galaxy will try to do

The Galaxy are a team that cost a bunch of money to assemble but lack a clear identity. In general, teams in situations like this rely on the lowest common denominator in attack: Crossing. That’s exactly what this Galaxy team does and it’s no surprise they’re bad at it. The Galaxy sit 28th in the league in crossing accuracy at 16.4% after completing only 12 of their 73 cross attempts this season. Keep in mind, the Galaxy have played one fewer game this season than most teams because their home opener was postponed.

Now, that’s how the Galaxy have played in practice in their first four games. They theoretically have a squad built to dominate the midfield. The quality of Marky Delgado, Riqui Puig, and Gaston Brugman is there. It’s actually an intriguing matchup against the Sounders’ midfield three. Whoever wins this battle wins the game, I think.

Vibe check

Good vibes to start the season are great. The Sounders are one bad turnover against Cincinnati from being undefeated and have generally passed every test thrown their way this season. Good vibes lead to confidence and confidence lead to expectation. Given how good the Sounders are and how bad the Galaxy are, we should be confident in expecting a win this weekend.

How close to full strength is everyone?

  • The Galaxy will still be without full-time Twitch streamer, part-time soccer player Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez on Saturday. They’re also without their starting goalkeeper Jonathan Bond. They’ll receive a bit of a boost as Douglas Costa should be fit enough to make the bench.
  • The Sounders are nearly full strength. The two questions are around Alex Roldan and Heber. We know that Héber should probably be on the bench and that A. Roldan will at least feature, if not be fit enough to be in the starting XI. But maybe at LB where Kelyn Rowe was declared out.

Projected lineups

Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; A. Roldan, Ragen, Yeimar, C. Roldan; João Paulo, Rusnak; Chu, Lodeiro, Morris; Ruidiaz

Galaxy (4-3-3): Klinsmann; Edwards, Neal, Cáceres, Leerdam; Brugman, Puig, Delgado; Boyd, Joveljić, Alvarez

What you need to know

Sounders record (2nd in the West, 4th in the Shield): 3-1-1, +8 GD

Galaxy record (12th in the West, 27th in the Shield): 0-1-3, -2 GD

Where: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, CA

Kickoff time: 4:55pm PT

Commentators (AppleTV): Jake Zivin and Taylor Twellman

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