Sounders: 10 things to know heading into important game with LA Galaxy
By Paul Taylor
Heading into last weekend's game, the Sounders talked about getting off to a fast start at home versus Real Salt Lake. This plan made sense, given RSL had conceded goals in the opening 15 minutes in their last three league games and in five of the previous seven.
Unfortunately for Sounders fans, their team is not playing well at the moment. It was Real Salt Lake who scored first, as they subsequently went on to win 2-1 and strengthen their position in the Western Conference standings.
In this respect, Seattle enters the weekend's action just one point out of a playoff place, not that this is particularly reassuring. With seven losses in their last ten league games, this is a desperate team.
The last time such a run happened to the Sounders was between May-July in 2016. This resulted in the decision to part company with the late, great Sigi Schmid.
It's time for the Seattle Sounders to start playing up to the talent level on their roster, beginning with Friday evening's game in Los Angeles against fellow playoff challengers, the LA Galaxy.
In addition, one more loss for Seattle this season would equal their most in MLS franchise history, which was 14 in 2016. However, while it might be considered a reach by some, 2016 was the year the Rave Green went on to win their inaugural MLS Cup.
The Sounders still have nine games remaining so there is some hope, but it's well past time to show what they're capable of. Here are 10 things to know, ahead of Friday night's game in Los Angeles versus the Galaxy:
1) LA Galaxy has the advantage in the all-time head-to-head meetings between the two clubs. In 42 games they have 17 wins and 12 draws, while the Sounders have 13 wins.
2) Although Los Angeles has the all-time edge, Seattle has not lost in their last eight games to them, with a record of five wins and three draws. This includes a 3-2 victory in Seattle earlier this season, when Xavier Arreaga scored the winning goal in the 72nd minute.
3) The Galaxy has done better when it comes to goals in league play this year with 37 in 24 games, compared to 32 in 25 for the Sounders. Los Angeles also has an advantage in average shots per game at 13.8-12.5 and attempts on target at 4.7-4.1.
4) On an individual level, Javier Hernández leads Los Angeles with 10 league goals in 2022, followed by Dejan Joveljic with nine. Seattle's leading scorer in MLS play is Jordan Morris with six, while Raul Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro both have five.
5) The Sounders have been, quite simply, poor on the road this season in league play, losing four straight and with an overall record of 3-8-1. For what it's worth though, the Galaxy are not exactly a powerhouse at home, with a 7-5-1 record.
6) As if the Sounders didn't have enough to contend with already, LA's marquee summer signing Riqui Puig looks set to make his debut on Friday. The midfielder was signed from Barcelona, where he helped them win La Liga in 2018-19 and the Copa del Rey in 2020-21.
7) Similar to Seattle, Los Angeles has also struggled of late, with five losses in six league games prior to last weekend's 5-2 demolition of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Further, one of Seattle or LA figures to win on Friday, based on the two sides managing just two and three draws respectively this season, in 49 combined league games.
8) More generally speaking, Seattle has several 13-year streaks they are attempting to extend this season. These include qualifying for the playoffs, finishing fourth or higher in the Western Conference and no lower than seventh overall for the Supporters' Shield.
9) The roster the Sounders currently have, is essentially the one they'll need to rely on the rest of the way, however long they have left in their season. Joao Paulo was lost for the year after suffering a right ACL tear, while Obed Vargas has been out for multiple weeks with a lower back stress fracture and no indication of when he will return.
10) Friday's clash likely sees the beginning of the most defining stretch of Seattle's league season, as they will play three consecutive away games. Talking to the media on Thursday about the key component for this road trip, Brian Schmetzer said:
"(It's about) mentality. We went on the road last year and won three games in a row. It's doable, it's possible; this team has it in them. We've just got to get back to playing with defense, concentration for 90 minutes. (Offensively) scoring more than one goal a game would help. So just back to doing what we know we can do. "
* Statistics courtesy of mlssoccer.com
What's your prediction for Friday night's game in Los Angeles? Will the Sounders win, draw, or lose and why? Let us know in the comments section below.