by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Do you know that feeling of repeatedly hitting your head against a brick wall, only to bloody one’s head? We duel with LA time and time again, often with no points to show for it. Another season. Another trip to Avalon Boulevard. Do we have the stones to walk into Los Angeles and claim the three points? Fasten that seat belt, Grandpa. It’s going to be a wooly one in the Southland.
The Good News
We’ve had marginally better recent form than LA. We are defending marginally better than LA. Gerrard, Keane, Larentowicz, and DeLaGarza have all left LA. This can only be a plus for us. The last time we faced them in LA, we hosed them 4:2, with Morris scoring two. Vancouver scored 4 on LA but could only manage to score two on us. LA have only won once at home in three tries this season. With so many new players in the side, each match we play is hopefully leading to a better understanding on the pitch. Galaxy are minus Rogers, Lletget, and possibly Diop if he fails his matchday fitness test. Onalfo is a young manager for LA. Attempting to replace Bruce Arena has got to be supremely difficult.
The Bad News
Torres out, due to a hamstring problem. The metrics paint a mostly even chance for both sides in this match. Historically we don’t play up when we travel to LA. LA have limited us to two wins away in 10 tries. They thumped us out of the US Open Cup last season. They have three times knocked us out of MLS Cup. In 21 matches in the league against LA, we’ve only won five times. Both of us are near the bottom of the league table at 18th for LA and 19th for us.
Know Thine Enemy
Goalkeeper – Looks like Brian Rowe will start if Diop fails his fitness test. Rowe has 66 pro appearances and was developed by UCLA.
Defence – Smith has only 25 pro appearances. Steres is an old hand and has played nearly 130 pro matches. Van Damme is a seasoned professional with over 200 matches in Belgian football for Anderlecht and Standard Liège. Add to that 31 caps for Belgium. The venerable Ashley Cole needs no introduction. 107 England caps and over 400 matches of English football well establishes his credentials as a professional.
Midfield – Alessandrini is the most dangerous of the bunch, and the most likely of any in the team to score a goal. He has over 100 matches of French football under his belt and would have featured for Les Bleus if not for injury. Alessandrini has a career strike rate of 27%. Pedro was developed by Portuguese club Vitoria and has over 140 matches of Portuguese football under his belt at the tender age of 24. Jermaine Jones is a fierce competitor who’s resumé is well known. He has played over 300 times as a professional. Much of that experience was hard-earned in the German Bundesliga. He has nearly 70 United States caps. He is a known commodity as a holding midfielder, and can occasionally score goals. He is as well known for his skill as he is for his volatile temperament. I met him once at a pub in SF. He seemed utterly cheerless.
Forward – Boateng has 40 matches in Swedish football. The Ghanian national has played nearly 30 times for LA and has nearly 70 professional matches under his belt. dos Santos is well known to us. The Mexican national and Barcelona product has played nearly 240 times as a pro. Was twice sold for €6M to Spurs and then to Villarreal. Has a tonne of experience in Spanish football. Zardes is a mainstay of the United States team. The LA native has 31 caps and six goals for the Yanks. He has played over 100 times for LA with a 30% strike rate. He is one of the most dangerous men on the pitch.
LA defender Daniel Steres was with the Sounders in 2012 but never played for the first team.
Selections for Last Match
LA: Diop, Smith, Steres, Van Damme, Cole, Alessandrini, Pedro, Jermaine Jones, Boateng, dos Santos, Zardes.
Bench: Rowe (gk), Romney, Husidic, Jamieson IV, Mendiola, McBean, Garcia.
Sounders FC: Frei, Fisher, Svensson, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Lodeiro, Dempsey, Shipp, Morris.
Bench: Meredith (gk), Wingo, Alfaro, Fernández, Bruin, Delem, Adekoya.
OUT: Rogers (ankle), Lletget (foot surgery).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Diop (hip).
OUT: Evans (calf), Kovar (groin surgery), Torres (hamstring).
MATCHDAY DECISION: None.
LA: Villarreal (USL suspension).
Sounders Centre-Half, Chad Marshall, really sticks with a club when he signs. He’s played nearly 100 times for us since he moved from Silver Drive in 2014. He played over 250 times for Columbus before he moved to Occidental Avenue. In a footnote: Marshall nearly made the United States 2010 World Cup Finals squad but was cut by USA manager, Bob Bradley on May 26th, 2010.