The Sounders won the first match against the LA Galaxy 3-0 on May 2nd, but the score doesn’t tell the full story.
LA looked much improved from the side that struggled while missing out on the playoffs last season. They had some good spells of possession after conceding two early. The improvement has continued, and while most people will talk about the return to form for Chicharito, there are signs that Greg Vanney is improving the team defensively, too.
Since the loss at Lumen Field, the Galaxy have won three of their four fixtures, picking up two clean sheets in the process. Of the four goals conceded in that timeframe, three came while playing a man down for the second half in their loss at Portland.
Derrick Williams remains suspended but LA have looked much more connected defensively with more protection for Nick DePuy and Daniel Steres. The center backs are not afraid to drop off and deny the space in behind that has so often hurt them in transition moments. Jonathan Bond has also looked more confident after a shaky outing against the Sounders and is coming off an impressive performance in the win against San Jose.
Galaxy Players to Watch
Designated Player signing Kevin Cabral has made just two starts since arriving from France but showed glimpses of his pace and ability in 1v1 situations against San Jose, and with an extended run of training with the team, he will be an even bigger threat.
It may seem silly to say given the Sounders are unbeaten and top MLS standings, but I think the break came at just the right time for Brian Schmetzer’s side. Seattle had drawn their last two matches against Atlanta United and Austin, with the team struggling to generate the goalscoring chances that had come so freely in previous games.
While only SKC has scored more goals that Seattle coming into this weekend, you could argue that for the first time since the start of the season the absence of Nicolás Lodeiro was really felt. His ability to set the tempo and be a creative force in central areas would offer another attacking option to complement the attacking thrusts of Brad Smith on the left-hand side.
The good news is Raúl Ruidíaz is available after being left out of Peru’s Copa America squad. He has a habit of showing up in Seattle’s big games, particularly when there is a Golden Boot rival on the other team. The Sounders’ shape in attack will be interesting with Will Bruin sure to come back in and offer an aerial threat. Ruidíaz has spoken about his appreciation for the work Bruin does to open up space and allow the Peruvian to get on the end of Seattle’s wide service. The Sounders continue to excel defensively with the ability of Nouhou and Yeimar to defend open spaces out wide critical to the team’s defensive success so far, but they will be tested by Cabral.
Sounders Players to Watch
Will Cristian Roldan drop into a deeper midfield role to offer a withdrawn attacking threat and allow Fredy Montero to play as a number 10? It would be a bold move by Seattle, but Brian Schmetzer has never been afraid to make big decisions.