I’m not sure everyone out there can remember the playoff series that took place between Lakers vs. Sonics. All the different battles that took place over 30 years and just how much we all hated and were frustrated by them. The rivalry that has grown between Seattle and LA on the soccer pitch is kind of like the modern incarnation of all that. This is the narrative that seems to be most popular. But then again I’m not sure it quite fits.
Regardless of whether they are James Worthy or Kobe Braynt or whomever, you can’t ask for much more than what you get with David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan. They’ve got the pieces to go blow for blown with the Sounders and possibly the better pieces a long the back line.
Despite the “big-3″ they are missing a few of their personnel due to injuries. Such as Christian Wilhelmsson (who could still feature as a sub) and A.J. DeLaGarza. DeLaGarza is one of the better centre backs in the league and has shown the propensity to shut down top strikers around MLS. Usually teamed with the 2011 MLS defender-of-the-year Omar Gonzalez the team will be forced to lean upon rookie Tommy Meyer coupled with Gonzalez.
Everyone of course is going to focus on the attacking pieces that are so prominent among their peers in the league. But it’s on that back line with Gonzalez and Meyer that the outcome is truly going to be determined.
Likewise it’s a question of how much can Zach Scott disrupt David Beckham on the far side. Last time around at the HDC, we saw Scott fail on a couple of occasions against quick strikes. Having Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Jeff Parke performing like two of the Avengers helps prevent a breakdown in the defense. Adam Johansson continues to do an amazing job out wide in supporting the attack.
Both teams can defender. Both teams can create chances galore.
The difference between the clubs, in my opinion, is Josh Saunders vs. Michael Gspurning. It’s clear that our Austrian keeper is a huge difference maker. The series with Real Salt Lake proved that well enough. The problem is you have to weigh what we’ve seen from Josh Saunders over the last 4 games against what we’ve seen with Gspurning.
Saunders is a good goal keeper. I don’t think he was nearly as bad as what Taylor Twellman kept pointing out against the Sounders. He’s a bit indecisive at times and he’s not nearly as athletic as his peers but overall he’s rather smart and efficient. That said he’s averaged a goal against him per game in the playoffs and despite making great saves, as we saw the last time we visited, he struggles with consistency.
My projected starting XI:
Immediately you see the one big change from Thursday night. No, it’s pretty apparent that Zach Scott will get the start. What you don’t see is Mario Martinez in the XI. The Galaxy are one of the better teams protecting against balls in the air. But what they struggle against is speed and speed specifically on the counter attack. I’m not saying that Mario Martinez wouldn’t be helpful, but I would love to see Steve Zakuani making moves to cut inside the box and give Christian Tiffert yet another target. Also having the ball at his feet gives the club yet another dangerous weapon.
I know that Dave Clark said that this team doesn’t have the midfielders to score and beat LA on aggregate but I tend to kind of disagree with him. Between Evans and Martinez putting in dangerous strikes during the series against RSL, the Sounders could easily find their way on top. It’s not that I don’t want to see Fredy or EJ score, I just don’t want to lump the pressure of getting through this series on them.
This is a powerful team with or without Mauro Rosales. The struggles that occured with him out of pocket could be a reason, to or then again not to, start Super Mario. There are a lot of ways this could go and it’ll be interesting to see how Sigi runs with it.
Projected outcome: Sounders 1 – Galaxy 1
Goals: Eddie Johnson (’37), Robbie Keane (’44)
Topics: A.J.DeLaGarza, Adam Johansson, Christian Wilhelmsson, David Beckham, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Josh Saunders, Landon Donovan, Michael Gspurning, Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Keane, Tommy Meyer, Zach Scott