Three Key Match-Ups: vs LA Galaxy

Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy

MLS Regular Season
Monday, July 28; 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: ESPN2; KIRO Radio 97.3 FM; ESPN Deportes Radio, 1490 AM (Spanish)

For the first time in the 2014 season, Sounders FC will meet the LA Galaxy on Monday at CenturyLink Field. It’s always a heated affair when the two teams meet and here are three All-Star matchups to watch in this nationally televised match.

Clint Dempsey vs. Omar Gonzalez
The two U.S. National Team cohorts will square off for just the second time as professionals. Last time out, Dempsey scored his first Sounders FC goal in a 1-1 draw to close out the 2013 regular season. This time, they meet under different circumstances. Dempsey has nine goals in 10 MLS matches, including one in his return to league play after a run at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Gonzalez, meanwhile, is on track to make his first MLS start since May 3. An injury in that match limited him to 45 minutes, then he left for World Cup duty. In Brazil, he suffered an ankle injury that has limited him since his return to the Galaxy, but he has been back in training this week and could be a factor for the LA defense. It is possible that Gonzalez will show some rust and Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are just the type of players that can take advantage of that. However, the Galaxy defense ranks second in MLS, allowing just 16 goals in 17 matches this season. And that has come while Gonzalez, the club’s top defender, has played in just six.

Osvaldo Alonso vs. Landon Donovan
Over the course of Seattle and LA’s first 18 meetings across all competitions, Alonso and Donovan have worked their way in and out of each other’s paths. Some games, they would rarely see each other, depending on where Donovan lines up in that particular match. Yet in others Alonso would be a swarming nuisance to the Galaxy captain. This time around, expect the latter. Donovan has been moved to the point of LA’s diamond midfield and that puts him right in the crosshairs for Alonso. While he has had his big matches in 11 regular season appearances against Seattle, the Sounders – led by Alonso – have limited him to just one goal, along with four assists. This season, Donovan has three goals and four assists in 15 matches for the Galaxy.

Chad Marshall vs. Robbie Keane
Keane has been a thorn in the side of the Sounders in his five previous matches against Seattle with four goals and two assists. Add to that his three goals and one assist in two playoff matches and Sounders FC has been seeking a solution to the Irish international since he came to MLS in 2011. This is a different defense than any he has faced in Seattle, though, and Marshall has been the anchor. Seattle is riding a six-match home winning streak that includes three consecutive shutouts, thanks in large part to Marshall shutting down opposing strikers. It won’t be easy on Monday, though, as Keane has 10 goals and six assists in 16 matches, including five goals and five assists in the last nine as LA has gone 5-1-3 in those contests. He has also found a good strike partner in Gyasi Zardes, who has six goals and one assist this season, all of them coming in the last nine matches.

BONUS MATCHUP: Sigi Schmid vs. Bruce Arena
When the two all-time leaders in MLS regular season victories match up, it’s going to get talked about. When one of them – Schmid – has a chance to reach a major career milestone with his 200th career win, it is amplified. Schmid (199) and Arena (166) rank first and second on the all-time list after both had incredibly successful careers at the college ranks as well. In MLS play, Schmid is 6-7-6 all-time against Arena as Schmid has coached the LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew and Seattle while Arena has had stops with D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls and the Galaxy.