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Three questions with Corner of the Galaxy

Are the Sounders a trap game for the Galaxy?

Last Updated
3 min read

Sixteen years ago, back when Sounder at Heart and Corner of the Galaxy started, the two clubs we followed were immediate rivals. At the time the LA Galaxy were the preeminent club in the league and the Seattle Sounders were the expansion upstarts dreaming of bigger things.

Then the rivalry faded. LA acquired a more pressing regional neighbor. And the Sounders took over the tops of the trophy and wins list. Recently both clubs have been a bit listless. The Galaxy seem to be surging back, while Seattle is looking for the winds to set sail again.

Saturday's match between the 2-0-3, +3 Galaxy and 0-2-2, -2 Sounders is on MLS Season Pass at 7:30 PM PT.

For Corner of the Galaxy, Josh answers Three Questions.

SaH: Soccer is supposed to be a low-scoring game. Does Greg Vanney know this? It seems the LA Galaxy aren’t concerned with giving up goals because they know they are their best when playing a high-octane game.

CoG: The Galaxy are certainly coming into their own on the offensive side of things. Joseph Paintsil has been immediately effective, and his link-up play with Mark Delgado has been deadly. Add in Riqui Puig, some Diego Fagundez, and Gabriel Pec and you can mix and match your way to a lot of goals. And don’t forget about “average striker” Dejan Joveljic. The goals have been flowing for the Galaxy, for sure.

The defensive side of things is much more nuanced. Of the nine goals they’ve allowed, five of those have been via set-piece. It’s a problem Vanney spoke about and vowed to fix for the Galaxy. Add in a penalty kick goal, and Messi versus a 10-man Galaxy side after Delgado was wrongfully ejected for a ghostly second yellow and the Galaxy’s defense from the run of play has been relatively solid. Not perfect. But much improved from last season.

What does that mean for Seattle? Take advantage of the set-pieces, crowd McCarthy and the box, and find some poor marking around the penalty spot and you too can score multiple goals without having to generate much.

So while the Galaxy can score goals almost like no one is there, Vanney is going crazy with those set-piece goals and I expect a mild improvement. 

SaH: Which player has been most important in bringing back LA's swagger?

CoG: Tough question. Riqui Puig, Joseph Paintsil, and Dejan Joveljic would be great nominees for this. And of those three it’s Paintsil and his ability to just glide by defense like this league is beneath him. The swagger comes from Paintsil (who doesn’t actually bring a lot of it. He’s very much a downhill runner with good passing and a heavy shot). I’d actually put most of the credit for this on a midfield of Puig — who does the pretty things — and Mark Delgado, who is having a quiet most-important-player-on-the-field season. Depending on where Puig is picking up the ball, he’s the most dangerous in any one moment. But he’s prone to mistakes, holding the ball too long, and expecting a little too much from those around him. He’s a risk/reward guy. Delgado has been the solidness on the other side of Puig. He’s a two-way midfielder who is making a killing combing with Paintsil. Puig may bring the swagger — with his Disney Channel haircut — but it’s Delgado right now that is allowing that swagger to play out. 

SaH: Is there a weakness that Seattle might be able to exploit?

CoG: The weakness is simple against the Galaxy right now. They’re prone to individual mistakes. They’re prone to relying on Puig too much and in situations when they shouldn’t — deep in their own defensive third and asking him to dribble around four guys. The Galaxy’s biggest weakness from open play is that they turn the ball over in bad situations and allow teams that really haven’t had much of a look the entire game to get a cheap goal. I already talked about the set-piece defense — the Sounders should capitalize on that — but really, Seattle needs to hang around and patient enough to let the Galaxy shoot themselves in the foot. It’s been the only recipe for scoring goals I’ve seen so far.

Another weakness in this particular game is that the Galaxy haven’t won at home and they’ll heap some extra pressure on themselves to do it. Plus, they may be looking ahead to LAFC. This Galaxy team isn’t good enough to think ahead to another game. With Seattle struggling because of injuries, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Galaxy come out flat in this game.

A warning for Seattle fans: The Galaxy have been extremely good in the second half of games. They make the right adjustments and, as seen in the game against Sporting KC, they score bunches of goals in the span of minutes. So if the sounders have the opportunity to step on the Galaxy’s neck, do it. Or they may end up regretting it. 

There's no reverse this week. But you can check out some posts like Seattle being a trap game and other content on their site.