Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy
September 21, 2013, 7:30 pm PT; StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network; 97.3 FM; La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
It may seem to be a recurring theme of late, but with the playoff races so tight in both conferences, it certainly won’t be the last time a match is referred to as a possible playoff matchup.
Saturday’s meeting between Sounders FC and the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center is just that, as the two Western Conference foes both look playoff-bound for the fifth straight season and could very well face each other for the third time in the last four years. After facing Real Salt Lake last week at CenturyLink Field and earning a 2-0 victory, Seattle is looking to continue that success in high-intensity matches on Saturday against the Galaxy.
“We talked about beating those certain teams – and Salt Lake was one of them – and hopefully we get over that hump and if we see them in the playoffs we can have that in our back pocket,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “That’s got to stay true for LA because that’s another team that has our number.”
Los Angeles has won MLS Cup in each of the last two seasons and reached the final in 2009, so the playoff atmosphere is far from foreign territory for the Galaxy. Seattle also has plenty of playoff experience, as it is one of three teams with LA and Real Salt Lake that have reached the postseason in every season since 2009.
This year, both teams have been up-and-down, but are among the top teams in the West. Seattle and LA both lost in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals and went through inconsistent spells, but are currently on hot streaks. While Seattle has won five straight and eight of its last nine, LA is unbeaten in its last four matches with wins in its last three.
While the match will provide a good measuring stick for Seattle, the team is focused more on finding its own rhythm.
“It’s good to play against them. They’re a good team. But we’re more focused on us and doing well with this team and continuing the run we’re on,” said forward Clint Dempsey. “The team’s been doing really well and I just want to play a part in that and help this run continue. Hopefully we can finish the season strong.”
While the health of the Galaxy side is still in question with Landon Donovan (ankle) and AJ De La Garza (elbow) both leaving last week’s 2-2 draw with DC United early because of injuries, Seattle is nearing full strength after Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey both returned from international duty and Brad Evans nears a recovery from a calf strain.
That leaves questions for Seattle Head Coach Sigi Schmid, but those queries have more to do with strategy and the options available than absences.
“It’s a good problem to have because you have options. The team’s playing well, so obviously there is going to be disappointment in whomever is not in that lineup,” Schmid said. “But we need everybody as we continue to go forward because you never know who is going to take a knock or take an injury, who gets called into a national team and who’s out of form. Everybody has to be on top of their game and working hard, but on any given game day there is probably going to be one or two disappointed people and that’s to be expected. But I know they’re all good professionals and they all want us to succeed as a team. As long as we keep that in mind, we’ll be fine.”
The Sounders know they have a difficult opponent ahead of them, but are ready again for the challenge. The work ethic that has produced a 0.20 goals against average in the last five matches will be needed against the Galaxy.
“It’s an experienced team and a good team and one of the best in the league,” Evans said. “It’s up to us to buckle down.”