By: Karen Watson
SEATTLE – The wait is over, the MLS playoffs are only days away, and after a nail biting weekend of uncertainty the Sounders now know they will be facing the LA Galaxy –a team with the best record in the league at 18-7-5 and winners of the Supporters Shield.
Seattle had a difficult start to the season, including a 4-0 home loss to the Galaxy in May, but has improved dramatically since the mid-point ending with a 10-2-3 second half record, top in the MLS. The Rave Green are also riding high on a 10 league game home unbeaten streak.
The Galaxy will be coming to Qwest Field as an impressive road team only allowing seven goals in fifteen away matches and also leading the leagues in assists (46) and second in goals (44). Although they triumphed over the Sounders in both MLS matchups, they didn’t have the same success against them in the Open Cup quarterfinals losing 2-nil.[picappgallerysingle id=”9975705″]
The Sounders’ likely starting lineup – Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Sanna Nyassi, Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Steve Zakuani, Blaise Nkufo, and Fredy Montero – haven’t dropped a point in seven league matches when starting together and have tallied fifteen goals in those wins. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller has seven shutouts during the second half of the season with fifty-five consecutive starts. And then there is Sanni Nyassi who has been on a tear after ending his two year goal drought against Toronto on October 2, scoring four times in the last month and winning MLS goal of the week twice.
Seattle Forward Fredy Montero, who didn’t play in the last regular season game against Houston, is nursing a quad injury but has trained with the team throughout this week and is expected to be ready for Sunday. Defender Jeff Parke took a nasty hit during the Houston game but is recovering well and will also almost certainly be available.
Thick with stars, obvious Galaxy players to watch will be captain Landon Donovan, recently returned David Beckham, and scoring ace Edson Buddle (17 goals, second in the MLS). Beckham didn’t return to the team until September 11 due to injury but has two goals and an assist in his seven games.
Over 30,000 tickets have already been sold and Seattle’s loyal fan base will be doing their best to intimidate not only the Galaxy supporters but the players as well, with their signature brand of atmosphere and the ferocity of their chanting. Los Angeles will have the opportunity to reciprocate the hospitality during the return leg on November 7 at the Home Depot Center. The team scoring the most goals on aggregate in the series will advance to the single elimination Western Conference Championship match.